With the World Climate Change Conference wrapping up in Durban, South Africa this week it is clear that humankind continues to display a marked inability to respond to a change in the environment so gargantuan that national governments, their political factions, and multinational corporations as well as some nine billion sentient beings around the globe cannot comprehend it.
In the United States, the majority of Americans deny its existence; never mind the ability to envision what this means for the human race.
No matter what millions of conservatives say about climate change or however Republican Presidential candidates feel about it, the fact of the existence of changes in the climate of the Earth that are injurious to the plant and animal species of the globe is not arguable. What is is how all this will play out and whether or not we can adjust to the changes that are already underway.
Liberal activist and journalist Naomi Klein has stated in a recent interview that her greatest insight into this problem is that the liberal compromise that has been attempted over recent years with conservatives and multi-national business is not enough. The idea she presents is a hard truth that even Al Gore would have trouble selling. No one wants to hear it.
What it essentially is, is that capitalism and its continued runaway growth in the world over the long run, and the increasing population and development of formerly third world nations using the traditional market models will leave such a carbon imprint that it will doom us. The way we do business, make money, and the materialistic lives we lead, and the fossil fuel, carbon- based frenzy underway since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 1780’s is no longer sustainable if we hope to live on this planet in the future.
Struggles for Justice would go even further than Ms. KIein and state that it is not an ideological struggle between traditional capitalism and socialism or whether or not Karl Marx was right on everything. It is a fundamental lifestyle shift that must be negotiated by the entire human race if we have plans to survive at all in the next century and beyond. It could be said the climate change raises the ultimate question of the survival of the human species.
So when conservatives and Republicans deny climate change in the United States it is a useless exercise, a fool’s errand that they need not be on in the first place. Denying climate change will not provide the counter to progressive Green portions of the American polity simply because even they are not thinking with the breadth of vision we will need to survive. With all of us underestimating the challenges we face with the warming of the planet due to greenhouse gases that human beings have added to the Earth there is no point in wasting valuable time arguing about whether or not climate change is a fact. It is.
The great question of the coming age will be what humankind can do to change how we impact the climate of our Earth in order to simply survive. No doubt large scale business will survive. As will the ability to earn wealth from good ideas and putting them into practice to provide people with the essential goods and services they will continue to need.
The great contest that we don’t even realize we are in is that our very thinking about what a good life is for each of us must change in a revolutionary manner in just the next decade or two or we are done. We are candidates, if you will, to join the dinosaurs in extinction.
First we can brainstorm continuously and creatively, jumping out of thousands of human constructs or boxes: a multide of ideas about visions of how people can live. It does not require the abandonment of democracy, or a republican form of government thank God. But it will impose upon all human beings the necessity of paring down material wants and needs. What we will retain can be highly modern technology and we can demand and get sufficient food, water, and housing. We can also get access to a good education and to live in peace with each other and to nurture our families and social connections as never before.
The entire direction of technological innovation will be driven by the necessity, an iron law of our future, to provide those essential things we need with as little energy use and material impact as is possible. Many traditional desires for material excess will have to be abandoned completely. There lies the revolutionary change imposed upon all of us. Less is more will have to be an ingrained bedrock value pursued by an entire species over the entire planet.What must die is the unhindered pursuit of material excess and the idea that great wealth is a contribution to the public good when held by a single individual. Our happiness in life can no longer be tied to great material abundance. That is going to be bad news to all occupants of the entire political spectrum. Ouch!
This is not socialism here as that doctrine traditionally imagines a world where these material goods and wants are supplied in endless quantities to everybody. So the old socialistic idea of production so that all may share in a materially abundant life has to go too. No ideological struggle here, just the necessities of survival.
The meditation rituals of the Eastern religions that help human beings focus within, instead of pursuing blind ambition materially without will have to come into wider use. For those of us more comfortable with Western traditions rediscovery of the tenents of the Judao-Christian faiths will lead us to lives that will be more in tune with our planet.
God created the Earth and left human beings in the role of stewards of the creation she had begun. We have a lot of work to do. The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth that tell the disciple to abandon worldly treasures, material things that are not essential, and to place our treasures, spiritual and not material, with God in heaven suddenly have a new relevance. The process of “emptying” oneself and taking up the cross of Christ will have new meaning as well.
We’ll still eat well; have nice comfortable clothing and a modern and technologically advanced place to live. But it will all have to be an even more Green human living pattern that is so in tune with the planet that our technology is almost invisible and where the vast multitude of ideas to change how we do almost everything will animate humankind or we die.
Suddenly, turf battles over climate change advocates and the deniers have no meaning any longer. The hot sun will rise one day soon and we all will see our predicament. How we act, how well we cooperate how innovative we are, how visionary, and how generous and loving we can be will all be critical to human survival.
Struggles for Justice is eternally optimistic. Let us make a visionary shift in how we live, the greatest change our species has yet had to make in recorded history together. Let it be a great adventure. Let it be the greatest gauntlet, heroically thrown down to all of us, and which we grasp eagerly. Climate change is underway. The manner in which we must respond and to adjust has yet to begin. The Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa was a failure largely due to failure to think and act anew as Lincoln might have said were he still with us today.