Humanity Must Choose Between Two Very Different Approaches to Checking Climate Change


It is becoming increasingly clear that the most powerful and influential forces in the world are increasingly building a consensus around an approach to checking climate change which is centered on basically retaining the existing economic systems with all their distortions and inequalities. In particular excessive consumerism( based of course on excessive energy generation) of a significant section of the population and how this results in denial for a larger number of people will not  be challenged, the excessively polluting and disruptive activities of giant corporations will not be substantially challenged and the overall injustices and non-sustainability of existing systems will not be challenged. Solutions will be somehow   found, it is believed in this by and large status quo  approach,  within this existing paradigm with its undeniable injustices and distortions, by increasing renewable energy (so defined as to include big hydro and nuclear power in some countries) in a big way, by reducing fossil fuels particularly coal to some extent, by a system of carbon credits and by promoting some geo-engineering solutions as well.

A consensus will be created  more or less along this approach, with some variations, with the support of some leading scientists and technocrats, bolstered by agreements among leading emitters, pushed by big billionaire donors, promoted by high-profile climate diplomats, finally sealed by the UN system and  its international summits. This will be celebrated as a big achievement of humanity, not just of  few powerful forces.

Will this succeed in checking climate change before it is too late? It is highly doubtful and therefore we need to keep looking more questioningly at  the more detailed reviews of how calculations relating to net zero emissions are reached.

However the even more basic objection to this approach is that this  takes an isolationist view of climate change and GHG emissions. The reality is that there are about a dozen  or so life-threatening environmental problems facing the world and quite a few of them are close to the limits of  planetary  boundaries, and it is the overall impact of all these human-made problems taken together which threatens the life-nurturing conditions and capacity of our planet. Climate change is just one of these about a dozen or so related problems, perhaps the most important one, but still one of several. We have to take up the task of checking all these problems together, all the more so as these are related to each other and  inter-act with each other. This is a very important reason why an isolationist and narrow approach will not work, and we have to adopt instead a much wider systems approach which is willing to consider all aspects of  how basic distortions  in the overall systems and thinking brought humanity to this tragic situation and how changes to correct these basic distortions are very much needed to find satisfactory solutions before it is too late.

Even if by a magic wand or miracle we are able to sort out all these problems within the existing system,  then also we will have to cope with the bitter reality that environmental conditions can still be made life-threatening within a few hours for almost the entire humanity and most other life-forms if just 1 to 5 per cent of the existing nuclear weapons are put to use in a limited nuclear war, or if space warfare becomes a reality.

Hence clearly we need a much wider and deeper approach of correcting basic distortions  in the existing systems and deeply-flawed thinking on which these are based.  In a nutshell, what we need is a path ahead for world based entirely on deep and firm commitment to peace ( in all aspects of life), environment protection, justice, equality and protection of all forms of life. Environment protection including checking of climate change in turn must be rooted in ensuring that  needs of all are met within the limits of various planetary boundaries, and this in turn implies that there should be more equality and justice. Checking militarization and somehow stopping all wars and arms-races will be a huge  achievement for its own sake, but in addition this can also contribute much to reducing GHG emissions.

Hence there is a clearly an alternative approach to checking climate change which is based on checking all wasteful and excessive consumption in a big way along with the wasteful and excessive energy  it requires, as well as moving towards a path of more equality and justice to meet basic needs of all while also securing more participation of people in environment protection by creating systems based on  justice and equality. Just by creating systems of agriculture , horticulture and forestry , mainly mixed organic/natural systems, based entirely on sustainable and ecologically protective, creative and satisfactory livelihoods of small farmers and all stakeholders, it should be possible to make an immense contribution to checking climate change.

Hence the second approach to checking climate change which necessarily involves moving to systems of much more equality, justice and peace  and which recognizes the needs for systems change and for challenging powerful interests is certainly a much more relevant and credible approach.

It is this second approach which has much higher chances of  success, but powerful forces which benefit from existing unjust systems are  not allowing this second approach to come forward and by doing so the powerful forces are also endangering the future of humanity and of other life-forms as well. At this most critical juncture of history, therefore, the movements of justice, peace and environment protection must unite and assert themselves in peaceful but very  strong and sustained ways, willing to making sacrifices, to save the future of humanity ad all forms of life.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author, is Honorary Coordinator of Save the Earth Campaign with its SED Demand. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Man Over Machine , Protecting Earth for Children and Earth Without Borders. His novella A Day in 2071 can  be read at Contact [email protected] . web-site



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