The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has attempted, once again, to awaken the world's leaders, and people, to the dangers of global warming and climate change. Some reports indicate that the word "risk" is included 240 times in the report, indicating that the panel which reviews and reports on a multitude of scientific research studies, is "taking the gloves off" in an attempt to bring all of us to a focused and concentrated series of actions to stem the tide of emissions that are already baked into the global climate system, and to prepare for the conditions that are becoming more imminent....almost as if the planet were becoming "more pregnant"....only this time not with new life but with serious threats to many needed staples for life. Papers, television news reports and even more planned conferences are detailing the report's contents in their unique manner. Here is a small segment from the Los Angeles Times on today's date:
Global warming threatens food and water supplies, security and economic growth, and will worsen many existing problems, including hunger, drought, flooding, wildfires, poverty and war, says the report by hundreds of scientists from 70 countries.
"Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," panel Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said at a news conference in Yokohama, Japan, where the 2,500-page assessment was presented.
As the Earth warms, snow and ice are melting, rainfall is shifting, heat waves are growing more intense and water supplies are being strained. Plants and animals are moving to cooler areas, and in a few cases, have gone extinct because of climate change, the report says.
Oceans are rising and growing more acidic, hurting marine life and threatening coastal residents with more destructive storms. By century's end, climate change could displace hundreds of millions of people and cause trillions of dollars in damage to the world economy, the scientists say.
One of the panel's most striking new conclusions is that rising temperatures are already depressing crop yields, including those of corn and wheat. In the coming decades, farmers may not be able to grow enough food to meet the demands of the world's growing population, it warns. (By Tony Barbosa, LATimes, March 31, 2014)
It is no comfort to realize that while some countries have made some progress in stemming the rising tide of carbon emissions, the world has not taken this issue seriously, has not even agreed on the facts, and has continued to pursue a global market economy of capitalism without the requisite regard for how that system has, is and will continue to impact the lives of every living creature, including humans. We have not taken a "stewardship" position on the earth, air, water and land and their relationship to our survival. We have not adopted a sacrificial position in order to provide a healthy world for our grandchildren. We have collectively and almost proudly declined the options that would reverse the trend on emissions, accept the details of this and many other reports and "put our collective house in order".
And yet, there are glimmers of change in technology, and in some food production, that are attempting to turn this threat into a new opportunity. Our question is whether the corporate world that is so steeped in its own processes, even with the more recent restrictions imposed by government, can and will finally see and accept that their own futures are no secure, nor are the futures of their workers, (including their most senior executives, and their descendents), not to mention the future supplies of their processes and their respective impacts on "our" rivers, lakes, oxygen supply and even our food supply.
We have, in the west, preached an ideology of individualism, as if that were the road to personal success, including education and employment. We have almost literally omitted from our indoctrination of our youth the notion of a collective responsibility. "He's not heavy, he's my brother" were the words to a once famous popular song, without the spreading of that perspective into the far reaches of our culture.
And yet, it is still possible that as the awareness of the growing dangers seeps into our individual and our collective consciousness, that we might begin to see our glaring inter-dependence, our-shining examples when our compassion stretched us out of our comfort zone, and when we discovered our better angels, a legacy from which we will have to draw both inspiration and practical approaches if we are to confront our own darkness and accept our own hubris and make the changes that both that confrontation and that acceptance require.
We cannot lie our way out of this dilemma.
Although we will try, we cannot buy or sell our way out of this dilemma either.
We cannot push the details off for another generation or two, and expect them to do our work.
We cannot deny the facts in the water, on the land and in the air that threaten life in so many ways.
We cannot avoid the truth that there is no national interest more pressing than our collective global, planetary interest.
And we cannot discharge even the most basic and meagre responsibility to preserve life and the supports such preservation requires, by sticking our heads in the sand.
The next few months and years will determine whether we have crossed a threshold from which there is no escape, or whether together we will reverse our thirst and thrust for and pursuit of individual success and replace it with a collaborative and sustained effort to take this threat seriously.
This choice is not one that can be left to another generation; it is here re-defining our existence today!