Biodiversity and Bioethics
Before facing the delicate relationship between Biodiversity and Bioethics, it is necessary to focus our attention on some terms, among these the concept of Ethics.
But Freedom is not a static term but a term of movement; movement in relation to something or someone. A term subject to the verification of one’s own autonomy (physical and spiritual) correlated to the autonomy of other beings, things and factors. Freedom is subject, therefore, to rules, and every rule is subject to knowledge. In conclusion, there cannot be Ethics without Knowledge.
Let us now turn to the concept of Epistemology.
Epistemology is that branch of philosophy that regards the conditions under which scientific knowledge can be had and the methods used to reach such knowledge, as the etymology of the term suggests. This derives from the union of the Greek words “episteme” (science, certain knowledge) and “logos” (discourse). In a narrower meaning, epistemology can be identified with the philosophy of science, the discipline that deals with the bases of the different scientific disciplines.
But which are the Principles that have produced modern Epistemology? Up until today, they have been based on the posits of Enlightenment thinking and philosophy.
We know that the Enlightenment was born and developed between the English revolution (1688) and the French revolution (1789). Among other principles, it wanted to strongly affirm, among other things, two aspects:
1) the exaltation of reason, whose field of investigation has, however, limited itself scientifically to verifiable reality, omitting any type of metaphysical or religious speculation;
2) the critical re-examination of history, the refusal of the authority of tradition considered as a source of prejudices and endorser of institutions without a rational base.
In order to affirm and to apply these principles, Enlightenment Thinking behaved similarly to the cognitive ability of our eyes. If we analyze the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, we realize that we have the possibility to individualize the size of values that are around 4. 10-7.
This perception is certainly too limited for us to be able to state that through our sight we understand the whole of the reality that surrounds us. It means that if I translated into reality, and rationalized on, only what I saw, almost everything (rationally) would escape me.
The exasperated application of Enlightenment Thinking (even if it was a useful philosophy for helping man to emerge from the swamps of the medieval period) has, however, given man a partial vision of the Cosmos. A vision that, translated into culture, science and technology has made us create a logic of the Human System which is distant and transversal from the logic of Biological Systems.
What unites the two logics is the need for energy.
It is by following these two “schools of thought” that the two systems evolved with different models.
To give a clarifying example, we can affirm that human systems have experimented mechanistic models to obtain energy and movement (as in the Otto cycle of internal combustion engines); biological systems have used (in most cases) the Krebs cycle.
The two systems preside both on the production of energy starting from oxidisable substances, but while the Otto cycle is concerned with how to get a good yield, the Krebs cycle is concerned with how to obtain energy, accumulate it, adjust itself to the different systems with a model of organized complexity that modern technology is not yet able to emulate.
The substantial difference between the two systems resides in the fact that Biological Systems have had to adjust and to SYNCRONIZE themselves to the most complex thermodynamic machine that exists: the Planet Earth; creating systems of maximum variability, with a smaller energy level and therefore with greater yield.
The human systems are based on highly specialized models, with high energy consumption and thus with low yield (we pollute too much).
In the four-dimensional matrix on which the thermodynamic machine Planet Earth is based, we are still primitive and uncultured.
Now, briefly recalling the principles of thermodynamics, we realize that Biological Systems became complex in order to raise the yield of energy that derives from the use of solar energy and terrestrial energy to the maximum point possible.
In biological systems every single organism behaves like a thermodynamic machine. Every single thermodynamic machine in the biological system not only uses some solar and terrestrial energy but also the “waste products” of other organisms, working definitively as a “Single Living Organism.”
What has not yet been understood (by Politics through to Research) is that every organism is useful to the service of others.
By removing one, the operation of the whole system deteriorates and the more pieces are lost, the worse the Ecosystem works.
To sum up: the value of entropy, which has determinate values in biological thermodynamic systems, increases more and more as the system degrades (loses pieces) thus damaging the general yield of our biological machine. To use a term which is unfortunately close to our cities, a degraded ecosystem uses the energy at its disposal badly and therefore pollutes more. The increasing value of entropy represents for all thermodynamic systems a scale for measuring pollution and the ineffectiveness of energy.
Human systems have interacted transversally with biological systems because they have not understood their logic nor their model.
We have thought for long time (and unfortunately still do) that some parts of the environment could be exploited to our liking, creating wealth; we have eliminated other parts, such as specialized agriculture, or indiscriminately attack portions of territory every day.
We have acted like the mechanic who when dismantling a machine is left with a lot of extra parts when he goes to reassemble it because he does not understand its functionality or utility.
Our models of Development are by now prehistoric and cannot be adjusted to the demands of the most advanced and perfect model of Ecosystem.
The rationalist culture (based on Enlightenment Thinking) developed up until today is reductionist; it is no longer suitable for the demands of new times.
Man is a promoter of progress but he cannot have the presumption that this goes in the right direction as long as he investigates the world through eyes which look only for personal profit. This equation is by now insufficient for the development of the future of humanity.
We have to begin to see the world system as a complex manifestation of complex energy forms. Biodiversity is an energy form of organized complexity. The energy level of every small monad of the ecosystem is correlated to the nearest monad but also to monads distant in time and space. One cannot enter or exit this most complex model with the facility and the boldness with which one enters or goes out of a room. Every time that we enter or go out of these rooms we irreversibly change their aspect and functionality.
Ultimately, Ecological Systems and Economic Systems (notice the same prefix Eco) have to move on the same level and considering that we cannot act on the biological ones, we therefore have to act on the socioeconomic ones.
We have to substantially re-examine our sensitivity and therefore our behaviour towards the world. Where Political Systems, Scientific System and Social System are three functions of the same Logic.
The Enlightenment equation that affirmed:
“The exaltation of reason, whose field of investigation has, however, to limit itself to scientifically verifiable realities, omitting any type of metaphysical or religious speculation.”
must be reconverted into:
“A prudent use of reason, whose investigative field has to encompass every reality, experience and culture; giving dignity back to metaphysical speculation.”
We have reached the threshold of that step in history where the horizon is so wide that the secrets of matter go beyond the finite to reunite in Infinity.
The slow but inexorable progression and evolution of human civilization has brought the Human System to collide with the Ecosystem.
As happens in the clash between galaxies, the two systems will be affected by this mutual influence modifying every previous Equilibrium and Knowledge in a new Ethical and Cultural form.
We can affirm, as Thomas D’Aquinas did, that: “All of our knowledge can only open doors on new questions and every discovery is only the beginning of a new science” but it is also more exact to say, still in accordance with of the Italian philosopher and theologian, that: “You do not possess the Truth, but it is the Truth that possesses you.”