A conversation with Luis Sepúlveda.
The Pecci Centre Reopens on the 16th of October 2016 with the major Exhibition entitled ‘The End of the World’. What are your opinions on this theme?
The end of the world. We can not know how close it is but it is certain that the situation in which we find ourselves is very worrying. Global warming is a reality and it is happening before our eyes with both rising temperatures and sea levels. This is worrying because it is caused by the concept of the continuous exploitation of nature without fear of consequence. We are the only ones who can change this situation and so the responsibility for the removal of the impending threat of “the end of the world” rests with us. Through choices we have made with regard to the environment, we have brought about the end of entire ecosystems.
How aware do you think we are of the resulting consequences of these choices?
I think that there is a definite lack of global, collective consciousness of the great danger posed by climate change, a lack of an awareness which would allow us to see that an economic or political model cannot shape human life and the planet. This is what is missing. I don’t think that we have reached the end of an era or the end of an age but we are hugely irresponsible in our consumption of the resources of the world and of nature and this certainly has political value. The whole world depends on those who have the knowledge and the ability but can’t be relied upon - on the one hand, we support that which has changed the shape of the earth, cut down all the trees etc., but the problem is that it’s only after that we come to realise that it has not done any good and all that has been achieved is a profound negative impact on the soil. This alteration results in the destruction of the soil from an agricultural point of view and hunger for so many people living near these places - mainly in the Amazon. I wouldn’t speak, however, about the end of the world. That which must come to an end is the irrational way in which we view the world. This depends on a collective consciousness which has yet to grow, an awareness which, if it were to grow, would bring us closer to the end of this idea of exploiting the earth but which if it does not grow, will bring us still further away.
Do you also think, therefore, that here has been a change in the way in which we relate to and talk about our planet?
No, I don’t think that the relationship between people and earth has changed. What has changed is the economic interest: the vision of those who support irrational deforestation has been established at the expense of the majority who still wish to live in harmony with the planet. Let’s take a look at the huge country of Argentina, for example. The vast territory of La Pampa, which was a natural habitat for cows, was drastically transformed into a barren landscape in order to cultivate genetically modified soybeans. This means not only the transformation of the earth, because every year the land is affected by desertification, but also the lives of the people who who were living in this territory.
So the effects of environmental changes are also political?
Of course! The desertification which I mentioned previously creates a terrible political problem. The inhabitants of these areas are being driven from their homes, forced to migrate to large metropolises putting even more pressure on the impoverished, overpopulated hubs of these cities . From this we can gauge the effect of the senseless political vision of the cultivation of land for the sole purpose of profit. It is a total change: human, political and economical. In conclusion, the important thing is to keep active, optimism can’t exist if we are not doing anything.
Frame from the film How to change the World