What would you think of a government which allows its own people to die?
I’m asking as friend.
“A government which allows its own people to die?”
You ponder for a moment.
“I’m not exactly sure… They’d be negligent, wouldn’t they? And immoral? And definitely dangerous!”
It looks to me as if we’re thinking along the same lines… Negligent, yes. Immoral, definitely. And dangerous… Yes, that too.
Now tell me… What would you think if it were your own government?
In the early years of the 21st Century CE most governments across the world are endangering their own populations.
We could go further: they’re endangering their own species.
“Come on!” you might object. “You can’t be serious! Anthropospecicide? Isn’t that a bit extreme?”
I am serious. And it is extreme.
It makes genocide look like foreplay.
If this is your response then pause a moment. Ask yourself: “Why am I responding like this? Why would I choose to downplay such a potentially appalling risk? Have I got caught up in some sort of ‘identity’ thing?”
You might even ask, “Am I entangling my sense of self with a macho justification for inaction? Am I aspiring to join an in-crowd who deliberately conflate inaction with common sense?”
That’s a good question. It deserves an answer.
We all want common sense and truth and intelligence on our side. But in the spotlight of common sense and truth and intelligence there’s no real basis for suggesting that climate change inaction can possibly be sensible. In fact, the very reverse is true.
97% of the world’s scientists agree that human activity – through the production of greenhouse gases – is the cause of our current cycle of global warming.
More worrying still, the ‘plausible worst case scenarios’ of the IPCC are over double what most experts consider a ‘manageable’ 1.5o increase in global temperatures.
We’re risking a catastrophic increase of 4o.
4o – a ‘plausible outcome’ if our governments continue with the palliative, half-hearted measures they’re taking today.
4o – the outcome if our governments keep talking the talk but not walking the walk.
4o – meaning a catastrophe for our species.
Ask any climate scientist… Ask them about the impacts of a 4o rise in global temperatures.
So… if we continue as we are, apocalyptic climate change is a real possibility: a ‘plausible worst case scenario’.
Of course, there are mavericks who might disagree. “4o is not as likely as you’re saying,” they might claim.
So suppose 4o is not VERY likely.
Suppose it’s only just possible. Or even unlikely.
Does that mean we should do nothing?
Because even if catastrophic global warming were highly unlikely, its impact, if it were to happen, would involve the death of billions of human beings. It might even jeopardise all life on Earth.
Therefore, even if the possibility were truly low (which is no longer a common belief among scientists ), then we’d still want to take precautions.
Just in case.
It’s called ‘the precautionary principle’.
It’s called ‘better safe than sorry’.
Morality kicks in at this point, too. (That’s what you’d expect, isn’t it?)
Here’s some moral logic:
Knowing inaction = Action
It’s a truth you already recognise.
To stand beside a shallow pool and watch a child drown would be as bad, morally, as drowning the child yourself.
To knowingly allow something terrible to happen is morally equivalent to causing it to happen.
This applies to just about every government in the world in the 2020s.
They’re aware of the scientific consensus on climate change.
They know the risks.
They’re not acting.
They might say they are.
They might claim “All’s in hand”.
But they’re not. And it’s not.
A measure of government
So I’ve drawn up a list (a surprisingly brief and achievable list) of what our governments should be doing – something you can judge them by – so you can bring them down or vote them out if they don’t comply.
👉 I&I: Inform and Inspire
Good information is essential for effective action – and it’s time our governments shared the very best and most up to date scientific information with those they govern. Our governments must help us understand the best and worst case scenarios in relation to climate change and the actions needed to achieve the first and avoid the second.
They must publicise and expose eco-harm, ensuring we are aware of the environmental consequences of our actions and the actions of our corporations, through education, public information, advertising, labelling.
And our governments must inspire hope. All humanity will benefit from an equitable and just ecological transformation, from a thrilling green revolution.
Our governments must govern. Our governments must lead. And they must inspire.
👉 Embrace the 3 Rs: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Reduction is the most powerful weapon immediately available in the battle against climate change: reduction of energy usage through massive programs of office, home and factory insulation, through our use of better building materials, through energy efficiency and energy retention, through energy recapture and re-use.
Re-use must also become central to human industry and technology – mirroring the cyclical processes within nature, where the waste products of one process become the pillars of existence of another.
Recycling, the little sister of Reduction and Re-use, is energy expensive, but is nonetheless crucial and must be embraced to avoid waste and ecological harm.
The three Rs must become government policy: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle… and thrive.
👉 Meat and dairy
Governments must encourage and enable a transition to vegetarian and then neo-vegan diets, through encouraging changes in farming, through taxation of meat and dairy products, through developing alternative protein sources (e.g. microbial fermentation), and through education.
We must all become neo-vegan.
It’s not a dietary choice. It’s a tactic for human survival.
Our governments must invest in an environmental revolution. Not the palliative tweaking we see now which will only usher in climate and social disaster, but massive investment in greening power generation and distribution, transport systems, housing and buildings, farming and land use.
Invest now and mitigate or prevent catastrophe.
It’ll be money well spent.
👉 Use the tools we already have
This is dull but effective: governments must use the tools they already possess to facilitate a green transformation:
- Tighten and adapt existing legislation (e.g. on house-building standards to reduce carbon footprints; on water company utilisation, wastage and pollution of water supplies; on land use to encourage local production and consumption, biodiversity and rewilding).
- Use taxation to incentivise green development and penalise activities or products which generate greenhouse gasses or degrade the environment.
- Immediately halt any subsidies or government investments facilitating fossil fuel industries. These and additional revenues must be used to decarbonise these industries, reskilling their workforces in green technologies and enabling a transition to green energy supplies.
- Redirect International Development Budgets to exclusively support sustainability initiatives in other countries.
- Utilise existing state or government assets to support sustainability measures across each nation.
These tools are all already in our governments’ possession. They must use them.
👉 Set decisive targets
Governments across the world must set urgent decarbonisation and green transition targets for all the internal departments or bureaus they oversee, and for the external areas they regulate. The targets must be monitored annually, aiming to accelerate decarbonisation and environmental protection wherever possible.
👉 Rewilding and forestry
Our governments must implement mass rewilding and reforestation, to generate carbon sinks and protect and encourage biodiversity. They must ban deforestation. Banning blood sports will also assist in enhancing biodiversity, in addition to being, morally, the right thing to do.
Encourage less travel and more home/in-community working.
Provide green alternatives to private transport, including:
- Agile, flexible and potentially free electric bus services
- Cheap or free trains, powered by green electricity
- Electric cars as a service (community or public ownership)
We are entering uncharted territory. Climate change has begun and its impacts will be felt increasingly by every nation across the globe. All governments must take action to create resilience in energy, water, food and health care, creating disaster resilience and local sustainability wherever possible. Decentralisation and devolvement are key.
Today’s only valid war is not with one another, nation vs. nation or people vs. people, but with the existential threats which face us all. We need to divert defence budgets and military R&D towards climate impact mitigation and civic infrastructure improvements; and we need to upskill the armed services to serve a key role in climate crisis and extreme weather assistance, in civilian support and damage containment and limitation.
As part of a governmental I&I (Inform & Inspire) initiative, governments must add Climate Change and Sustainability to all educational curricula, providing the necessary resources and teacher-training to support this. Our children must fully understand the future and the challenges which await them, and they must be empowered to tackle these challenges.
Governments must encourage population stabilisation through the key measures of providing health, food and energy security; equitable education for girls and women; and female emancipation within every nation on Earth.
It’s not a long list.
Given the critical importance of the issue, it’s a comparatively short list.
We must urge our governments to take these actions to combat climate change and preserve the biological world.
We must unseat them if they don’t.
Nothing in this list is rocket science. Nothing here is unachievable. And the cost is low when you include the benefits of investment in new industries and technology.
Meanwhile…. the cost of doing nothing, of allowing a ‘plausible worst case scenario’ to occur, is appallingly high.
Our message to our governments must be this:
Luke Andreski is a founding member of the @EthicalRenewal and Ethical Intelligence collectives and author of Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020), Intelligent Ethics (2019) and Ethical Intelligence (2019).
You can connect with Luke on LinkedIn, https://uk.linkedin.com/in/luke-andreski-ethics, on WordPress, https://lukeandreski.wordpress.com/, or via EthicalRenewal on Twitter https://twitter.com/EthicalRenewal.
If you still question the value of radical action on climate change, read this: https://creatingsocialism.org/cop26-why-we-should-be-scared/
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