Climate change will change our lives — and most say they are ready

Posted November 30th, 2007 in Blog Comments Off on Climate change will change our lives — and most say they are ready

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

The world is ready for big lifestyle changes in response to the human warming of the planet — not everyone, but a large majority of us, this according to the BBC.

This is very good news. But it makes all the more woeful the lack of leadership from political, religious, and cultural leaders. We could be pulled together to make big changes in how we live, to raise taxes if we have to, to reorganize our communities, cut way back on our use of carbon-dioxide-emitting fossil fuels, to alter basic living habits — if we had the right discourse, the appropriate urgency and call to unifed action, unified sacrifice, to save decent living conditions on the planet for future generations — not to mention the one right behind me already sharing the planet with us.

Next month, world leaders will gather once again under the sponsorship of the United Nations, this time in Bali, Indonesia, in an attempt to negotiate a climate deal that will involve the necessary sharp cuts in carbon emissions. coal-fired-power-plant-conesville-oh-national-geographic-peter-essick.jpgOne of the UN’s top climate specialists, Yvo de Boer, says that failure to reach a deal, given the evidence, is ‘almost inconceivable.’ But those who have followed the global warming policies of the Bush administration are aware of just how conceivable this might be. If the US doesn’t jump in seriously, neither will China, India, Brazil, etc.

We are now pretty isolated, given that Australia’s new Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd said he would ratify the old Kyoto Protocol when he takes office. Bush lost one of his last climate-change-denying buddies. Still, he intends to resist any binding agreements in Bali, insisting that voluntary actions and new technologies will take care of the problem. Ah, that old Nero syndrome. But Bush’s fiddle has fallen out of tune – it no longer resonates any harmonies (how’s that for a tortured metaphor?)

Okay, but it remains just breathtaking for me that protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industries trumps the future habitability of our planet for billions of us in the calculations of this administration. Such are the moral times in which we live.

While I was roaming through articles at Reuters ‘Planet Ark’ website yesterday, I stumbled on some other articles that I want to share with you by way of links. One reveals again why the failure of rich countries to act keeps on dooming these attempts at a global pact, Rich Nations Should Do More on Climate Change – China.

Hard to argue with the central point:

Rich countries responsible for most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions should take the lead on climate change, a commentary in China’s state media said on Tuesday, a week before the opening of global talks on the issue.

Easy to come down on China, India, and Brazil when it is our own explosive industrial and post-industrial development and our energy-dense lavish lifestyles that have created the crisis. But then, we just so often want someone else to bear the cost and responsibility of change.

Finally, this last point for today. Climate change is combining with depletion of ecosystems to put much of the world in peril. Some regions are already in peril, areas of Asia and Africa for example, where agriculture is in a state of collapse because of climate change combined with overuse of lands and water, both driven by poverty. Add explosive population growth and you have the mix for a very unstable, volatile world.

graph_of_ecological_overshoot_1960-2001.png Which is why climate change and ecological overshoot combine to create the most profound war and peace challenge in all of human history. Climate change and ecological overshoot are the preeminent peace issues of our day.


…climate changes in the past led to famine, wars and population declines…The world’s growing population may be unable to adequately adapt to ecological changes brought about by the expected rise in global temperatures, scientists in China, Hong Kong, the United States and Britain wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“With more droughts and a rapidly growing population, it is going to get harder and harder to provide food for everyone and thus we should not be surprised to see more instances of starvation and probably more cases of hungry people clashing over scarce food and water.”

That comes from this article, History shows climate change led to war, famine, also from Planet Ark.

So past is our future, if we don’t do this differently. According to International Alert, a London-based conflict resolution group:

Climate change will put half the world’s countries at risk of conflict or serious political instability… 46 countries — home to 2.7 billion people — are at high risk of violent conflict because of climate change, and another “56 states where there [is] a risk of political instability.”

Climate change will affect water supplies, growing seasons and land use, said [Dan Smith, secretary general of International Alert], bringing communities in the poorest and most vulnerable countries into conflict.

Do we really want to live in such a world? Or our children?

Most of us are saying, no, we don’t want this. But few of us know how to proceed, given the magnitude of the changes required. Ecological hope rests in our ability to reject this dire future scenario and to demand a different world than this, a different course than the one that leads in this direction.

If nothing else, we know from the BBC report that we are not alone in bearing both the fear of an unraveling world and the aspiration for a different kind of future. Our rejection of the current course is step number one. Take the next step with us. There are so many ways you can do it. Help us build this community of ecological hope by joining in the conversation, by getting committed, by forcing a new direction in this country, wresting its future and the future of the planet from the greedy, the self-interested, the complacent.

It is not only the biggest crisis of our times, it is also becoming the biggest movement of our times.

[tags] climate change and conflict, united nations climate talks, bali climate change conference, planet ark, international alert[/tags]

Photo CO2 emissions: National Geographic, Peter Essick
Graph of ecological overshoot: European Environment Agency

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