Given the exhaustive scientific study and analysis of the hard data that incontrovertibly supports the relationship between human activity and climate change, the question that remains is, “What is the source of the skepticism that seems to surround this unmistakable reality – a sentiment that is especially widespread within the United States?”
One can postulate that there exists a pervasive mistrust in science among a considerable portion of the general population This is true to some extent, but I believe there is another and more profound reason for this apparent resistance to the truth.
It is my contention that this puzzling denial is a result of the loss of the communal acceptance of the fundamental importance of the Commons in American life. The Commons is represented by those necessities, commodities and services that are essential for the maintenance and sustenance of human life such as availability of clean drinkable water, clean air, descent shelter, access to health care, availability of adequate nutrition and a healthy and sustainable natural environment. The Commons can only be maintained if the individuals that comprise the community are dedicated to its continued support and maintenance. It is one of the fundamental roles of government and government policy to preserve and maintain the Commons. In a truly democratic society where government functions “by and for the people,” if the will of the people is to allow government to abrogate that fundamental role that is a troubling development; for, it imperils the very future viability of the social order.
Human life in modern culture operates within an economic milieu that is essentially devoid of compassion in which all aspects of life are of value to the degree that profit can be made and all things are reduced to the uncompromising competitiveness of the marketplace. As a direct consequence of this system based primarily upon capital and its perpetual accumulation, the well-being of the individual supersedes all other considerations, and individuals are taught to evaluate their own success based upon personal material acquisition.
As a consequence, what is lost is an appreciation of the value of community effort for the purpose of promoting and sustaining the well-being of all members of society i.e. the Commons. A societal philosophy that elevates the individual above all else inevitably endangers the very nature of community life.
Furthermore, the exaggerated focus on the individual that overshadows all other considerations, obscures the essential reality that all members of the human race are rightful members of the human family and worthy of the same respect, compassion, care and concern that we gladly extend to our own immediate families.
Solutions to the widespread issues of poverty, hunger, disease, political turmoil, conflict and the ineluctable degradation of the natural environment require reasoned cooperation and collective action on the part of all nations.
Seeing reality through the myopic lens of the individual and individual needs in a material culture that has an ever-diminishing connection to the natural world, inevitably leads to a dismissal of importance of the Commons as well as a rejection of the inherent reality of climate change. In fact, the future viability of the species rests squarely in the hands of humanity.
The apparent skepticism of the reality of climate change has its origins in an unwillingness to accept this responsibility and make the appropriate changes in communal behavior to maintain the future vitality of the entire species.