The "Primitivist" Henri Rousseau painted "The Dream" in 1910. It now hangs in Manhattan's MOMA
Climate Crisis Update: Seven Vital Talking Points in the Outreach to Win Hearts & Minds
By Richard Power
The Climate Crisis is An Aspect of Our Global Reality: Just as we now live in a global economy, in which the good and bad that happens in one region of the planet impacts every other region, just as cyberspace encompasses the whole of human civilization, without borders, time zones or even any sense of physical distance, and just as the global economy and cyberspace interpenetrate each other to the point at which they exist as two aspects of a single global reality, we must now accept the truth that climate is a third interpenetrating aspect to this global reality. Any attempt to proactively engage in any endeavor to impact one or another aspect of this single global reality will either fail or have only limited impact without recognition of the oneness of all life on this planet.
The Climate Crisis is the Bleeding Edge of Our Sustainability Meltdown: Understand that the Climate Crisis is, in actuality, simply the most urgent and all-encompassing element of an overall Sustainability Crisis already confronting our species. Even if we had not accelerated global warming to lethal levels with the burning of fossil fuels, we would still be facing global crises due to unsustainable approaches to population, water, food, energy and sanitation. But ironically, even though the Climate Crisis aggravates some of these other sustainability issues, in particular, water and food, it also demands the adoption of new models of green living, which will by extension resolve most of these issues, in particular, food, water and energy.
The Climate Crisis Rivals Nuclear Proliferation as Our Top Security Threat: The Climate Crisis is the No. 1 or No. 2 threat to human civilization. No rational view of global or national risks and threats can arrive at any other conclusion. The only debatable issue is whether or not nuclear proliferation should be No. 1 or No. 2. Arguably, it is a tie for No. 1. Nuclear war could end human civilization in a matter of minutes. The Climate Crisis could end human civilization in within a century. But the Cold War demonstrated that at the very least the threat of nuclear war can be mitigated. Unless we act urgently, drastically and globally, the destruction that will result from our Climate Crisis is inexorable.
The Climate Crisis is Not Only A Sustainability Issue, and A Security Issue, It is A Public Health Issue: Some people you encounter will resonate with the Sustainability angle, others will resonate with the Security angle, but many who do not resonate with either can be put in touch with the immediacy of the Climate Crisis by articulating the profound public health issues involved. As a recent report compiled by The Lancet medical journal and experts from the Institute for Global Health at University College London, "Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century." (Agence France Press, 5-13-09)
Overcoming the Challenge of the Climate Crisis Requires A Multi-Dimensional Quest: The Climate Crisis cannot be successfully mitigated without sweeping national action and comprehensive global cooperation among the governments of the world. Of course, at every stage, what governments do will likely be done too slow and accomplish too little. So they must be pushed by the scientific community, activist organizations, enlightened business leadership and public opinion. At the same time, as this pressure is applied to our own governments and the community of nations as a whole, alternative courses of action must be developed through which the scientific community, activist organizations, enlightened business leadership and public opinion can impact the climate directly regardless of what governments do or fails to do. Simultaneously, 24x7, each individual must transform his or her life-style and personal environmental in whatever ways are practical and meaningful.
The Role of Nuclear Power in Overcoming the Challenge of the Climate Crisis is An Open Question: Although nuclear energy offer an alternative to the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the burning of fossil fuels, it creates its own highly dangerous waste, which cannot be adequately neutralized or safely disposed of. Furthermore, the building of nuclear power plants establishes high-risk target, which can with sufficient force, be weaponized and turned on the populace of its surrounding environs. And these are only two of several serious issues that must be dealt with in any rational consideration of the role of nuclear power in coming to grips with the Climate Crisis. Nevertheless, next time your flight is coming in to land at a major metropolitan airport anywhere on the planet, whether in the stone-cold dead of winter, or the stifling heat of summer, look out over the city below, consider the millions of lives concentrated there, and ask yourself how we keep all of this going over this next century. The role of nuclear power is a subject of fierce debate. If you want to be a credible, you must understand both sides of the argument. (See Climate Crisis Update -- Global Warming & The Nuclear Option, A Convergence of National Security Issues)
Overcoming the Challenge of the Climate Crisis Requires A New Economic Model, Not An Old Ideological Dichotomy: The global financial system and the global economy it fuels has experienced a Sustainability Meltdown of its own. And indeed, the sustainable issues that threaten our economic security are intricately and inextricably intertwined with those that threaten our environmental security. We need new economic models. But if we become entrapped into the 19th and 20th Century ideological struggle between capitalism and socialism, or lost in its shadows, we will not succeed in developing those new 21st Century models. Look for inspiration in the exquisite organization of organic life rather than in the agonizingly short-sighted organization of human society hitherto. (For an archive of Words of Power posts on Economic Insecurity, click here.)
If you have not already joined the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore and I urge you to do so. Click here.
For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
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