One hundred and ninety-five countries recently reached a consensus at the end of an historic meeting in Paris regarding the need to lower carbon emissions and thereby diminish our dependency upon fossil fuels as the predominant source of energy for human activity. This, in itself, is a major breakthrough in that it represents a nearly universal recognition of the reality of climate change and its very real threat to the future of the species upon planet earth.
However, there is a wide chasm between recognizing the threat and collectively implementing the degree and intensity of change that is required to meaningfully address the problem. The enormity of the issue cannot be understated. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has already breached 400 parts per million (ppm). This compares to ~ 270 ppm that was the measure of CO2 in the pre-industrial age. The current level compares to eras in the earth’s distant past in which the climate conditions were of such extremes that human existence would be seriously constrained. The effects of climate change are very much in evidence around the planet. It is not within the scope of this article to attempt to enumerate the details. Human activity is literally transforming the earth’s climate – no manner of obfuscation or denial can alter this reality.
The degree of political, social, cultural and religious unrest that seems to infest human communities throughout the world provides suggestive evidence that human beings are collectively unable to face the enormous challenges posed by the seemingly ineluctable “progress” of climate change. In reality, there is no threat to the future viability of the human species greater than this issue.
In order to successfully and radically diminish the production of greenhouse gases to a degree that would obviate the threat to humans in the near and more distant future, action is required on a scale of unheard proportions. This level of global cooperation will not be possible or even conceivable if we persist in responding to real or imagined threat with violence and irrational behavior; if we continue to value the self at the expense of the larger community; if we insist on showing little or no compassion for the hundreds of millions of our species faced with dire circumstance in everyday life and if we put the immediate interests of the State above the well-being of humanity.
Simply put, in my judgment, without true and lasting peace of mind and spirit both individually and collectively, the solution(s) to the problem of climate change will elude us. In the final analysis, it is up to us – the viability of future generations of human beings is in in our collective hands.