EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The approach ‘think global, act local’ neglects the particular ecological value of ecosystems

Guido J.M. Verstraeten1 and Willem W. Verstraeten2
Guido J.M. Verstraeten and Willem W. Verstraeten
  • 1University of Applied Sciences (Björneborg-Pori, Finland) & Karel de Grote Hogeschool , Antwerpen, Flanders, Informatics, Belgium (
  • 2Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Ukkel, Brussels, Belgium (

A sustainable society is considered as an organic system, called an ecosystem, wherein all possible connected parameters are contributing to the conservation and evolution of the ecosystem containing life and landscape against stress from outside. Any ecosystem contains species of mutually interacting organisms all contributing to a dynamic equilibrium. An ecosystem is characterized by a population carrying capacity.

Humans are the only species on earth without a specific ecosystem. They live everywhere. The evolution did not adapt the homo sapiens to some ecosystem, on the contrary humans transformed all ecosystems to their own environment. Nature transforms into environment when humans are managing an ecosystem and transform it to their environment by attributing to nature the concept of natural capital as first instrumental step to economic growth, considering pollution as collateral damage.

Inspired by Enlightenment Anthropology (Shallow Ecology and Naess´ Deep Ecology) the UN encourages humanity to transform the consumption of raw matter, energy and food into a more sustainable cleaner way and even to start transition of energy resources and human diet in order to dampen the effects of global warming. Economic policy supports technological procedures avoiding waste of raw material and stimulating sustainable production processes and sustainable recuperation of raw material inside the produced items. The energy transition and preferable industrial production method, however, is globally imposed top-down without examining the consequences for local life of humans, non-humans (e.g. wind turbines near human settlement, bird mortality, destruction of the ecosystems of the seafloor) and the landscape (e.g. solar energy systems on hillside, water dams). Moreover, the global view favors large scale in policy as well as in means of production. However, this global transition organization of the global environment establish the new order characterized by its global and universal action and is not in balance with local ecosystems characterized by diversity of life and human management (so called perverted adaptation). Nature is reduced to things and just rewarded in terms of natural capital to sustain a Global Urban Middleclass consumptive society.

Therefore, we adopt Aldo Leopold ‘Land ethics’ (1949) and apply it to the shear coast of Southwestern Finland. We summarize his ideas in three hot headlines: (i) The land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen; (ii) We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong to, we may begin to use it with love and respect; (iii) Anything is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. Participation to the ecosystem based on autonomous technology, i.e. not controlled, is focused on global energy transition to save the Universal Urban Middleclass Life. On the contrary, the concept of Land Ethics makes room for eco-development based on care for humans, culture, environment and nature in interaction with all ecosystems. In a nutshell: act local, interact global.

How to cite: Verstraeten, G. J. M. and Verstraeten, W. W.: The approach ‘think global, act local’ neglects the particular ecological value of ecosystems, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3770,, 2022.


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