The hope of the twentieth century rests on its recognition that war and depression are man-made and needless as is so with Climate Change.
Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel.
All can be avoided in the future by turning from … nineteenth-century characteristics … and going back to other characteristics that our Western society has always regarded as virtues: generosity, compassion, cooperation, rationality, and foresight, and finding an increased role in human life for love, spirituality, charity, and self-discipline.
We now know fairly well how to control the increase in population, how to produce wealth and reduce poverty or disease. We may, in the near future, know how to postpone senility and death but to what avail if we continue to deny Climate Change.
It certainly should be clear to those who have their eyes open that violence, extermination, and despotism do not solve problems for anyone and that victory and conquest are delusions, as long as they are merely physical and materialistic.
Our problem is that capitalism provides very powerful motivations for economic activity because it associates economic motivations so closely with self-interest.
Money and goods are not the same thing but are, on the contrary, exactly opposite things. Most confusion in economic thinking arises from failure to recognize this fact.
Goods are wealth which you have, while money is a claim on wealth which you do not have. Thus goods are an asset; money is a debt.
You would think that policymakers with the dark future of Climate Change ahead would be addressing a new set of existential questions.
Such as: Should Economics that grew wealth bear more of the burden to stop climate change. Another words developed countries should take the lead allowing less developed countries to maintain emissions.
As we all know to date no international mitigation and abatement efforts have taken place on a large enough scale to freeze emissions. We don’t see any intense geopolitical cooperation. Countries will not do anything on behalf of other that requires them to sacrifice their own interests.
Off course when you introduce future generations into the question democracy as it stands is not equipped to represent the interests of future generations never mind the here and now. Humans that don’t exist have no say as to what will it mean to live a meaningful life in a world that has eliminated all wildness, and forms of life from the planet.
So here we are poised to become agent of the greatest catastrophic events ever to hit our planet which could have to support over 10 billion people by 2050.
We are currently on a trajectory to warm the planet 4°C. In such a 4ºC world most of us will not be able to adapt never mind our natural systems.
As we move beyond the stable state we are already well beyond the zone of uncertainty. The risk for all species – including ours- grow and grow.
We need to start thinking in terms that we are just not used to thinking of as a human species.
Will it be left to the market to decide. With businesses as hubs for democratic engagement this could unfairly shift costs onto either consumers or taxpayers.
I’m not convinced.. that we’ve ended up with a society that’s really able to harness the innovation potential of business.
Climate change challenges democracy. But climate change also needs democracy.
We live in a carbon dependent world. And for the most part, we are loath to forego this somewhat cosy arrangement. Carbon dependency is promoted in part by technology which gives us many good things on the cheap: electricity, personal mobility, affordable consumer goods, cooling and warmth. It is also encouraged by governments which promise easy options to low-carbon outcomes, without delivering these options. And for the most part, we do not seem to care, as the goodies continue to arrive.
We all know in our hearts that this is a cop out: we are duped but we connive in the deceit. Democracy is not a system that forces us to face up to these contradictions. We want to live in a sustainable society but the political system does not reward or support the innovators and entrepreneurs who would guide us to it.
Political institutions manipulate us, as do the power brokers who shape political opinion and guide policy. Democracy shuns the long-term.
The goal of equipping democracy to mitigate and adapt to climate change is not a one-time endeavor but a continuous process.
Today, the formerly contented European middle classes, sitting in the gap between the rich minority and the poor majority, for the first time in living memory cannot be sure their children will be better off than they are. Confronted by this austere prospect, this group – the natural allies of climate stability – will become unsettled.
The world’s nations are desperately looking for guaranteed techno-fixes to climate change. Democracy around the world has suffered as governments seek to lean on eco-technocrats to cut back on investment in education and health and invest instead in technology for climate mitigation and adaptation.
I really do believe that people can provide the answers – if only we could unleash the real power of that creative potential. Environmental innovation has to be about much more than technology. I’ve realized that, and I’m going to make it my business to ensure that as many other people as possible do too.
So where best to start than requesting your Television Stations to highlight Climate Change in their Weather Forecast. Join me. This is a war against no enemy other than ourselves.