Sunday, December 11, 2016

The ‘best’ way to fight Climate Change?

While protecting our forests is crucial, it is delusional to think any single or even a hundred separate, specific actions are the ‘best’ way to fight Climate Change.

Protecting forests is the best way to fight climate change' With the Cancún Declaration adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity summit, DW talks to an indigenous leader on how native peoples are defending the Earth's forests - and through that, biodiversity and climate. At the 13th meeting of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD CoP13), representatives from more than 190 nations are discussing conservation in Cancun from December 4 to 17. Already on Saturday (03.12.2016), delegates agreed to adopt the Cancún Declaration to ramp up efforts to protect the world's biodiversity. At the conference, indigenous groups' role in protecting biodiversity will be among the topics in the spotlight. Leaders from the Amazon region, Congo and Indonesia, among others, are unifying their voices in demanding greater respect and support for their communities, which they believe to be key actors in the fight to protect our planet. (December 5, 2016) Deutsche Welle 

Along with protecting our forests are voting climate deniers out of office, ramping up renewable energy, blocking fossil fuel infrastructures, pushing our media to do a better job reporting on Climate Change, enacting a worldwide carbon tax so that burning fossil fuels becomes prohibitively expensive, ceasing oil drilling in the Arctic, developing a Climate Action Plan in every community, helping our wildlife and plants to adapt to the warming, enhancing our ability to monitor the changes that come with warming up a planet by making sure agencies like NASA are capable of maintaining crucial equipment, keeping scientists focused how our climate system works, backing environmental groups who are at the legal forefront of beating back bad environmental legislations, organizing local groups to stop bad environmental decisions, growing food locally so that we can produce as much good food as possible, preparing our communities for climate refugees who will need a place to live, making sure the Green Climate Fund helps support those nations that did not cause Climate Change but will experience the consequences more quickly and worse, increasing public education about Climate Change and how our public health will be affected so that we when plan for warming we do so comprehensively, and on and on and on and on … 

The point being that however overwhelming people may find addressing Climate Change to be, there is nothing for it. We have to both adapt to the changes and stop anymore warming—at the same time and all at once. We must attempt to accomplish this even if doing so will increasingly consume most of our lives. The more we drag our feet the more likely our children’s and grandchildren’s lives will be but desperate attempts to deal with this crisis. And a less likely their being successful. Climate Change will get worse unless we change course immediately, and this is true whether we like it or not.

However convenient or psychologically comforting folks may find seizing on the ‘best’ solution for themselves, there is no single way to fight Climate Change. It’s one of the reasons why communicating Climate Change is so very difficult and unpopular. But dumbing the problem down to a just few actions you can take is not the answer to this problem. (I cannot ever say ‘this kind problem’ because there is no problem like Climate Change.)

To put forth the psychological position that too many action items needing immediate attention will overwhelm and paralyze folks into doing nothing is a stance, not a fact. (‘We cannot do anything to address Climate Change that will harm our economy’ is also a stance and so is ‘We cannot address Climate Change unless the actions are fair’ (albeit a good and moral stance).  Military personnel preparing for battle are not told to leave the battlefield and chill if they feel overwhelmed. As we have witnessed in humanity’s many wars, we can do incredible things to save ourselves and our loved ones—however inconvenient and numerous they may be.

I understand the psychosocial reasoning behind trying to tamp down the urgency and plethora of actions needed and putting acting on Climate Change all into a doable package of some sort, but it’s backwards psychology. To address Climate Change properly, you must first assess what Climate Change is (an existential problem threating our life-support system) and help humanity move towards solving it on a scale and time frame that will matter. Not deciding first your level of commitment.

Watching the world pass tipping points where the consequences of this warming are irreversible cannot be alieved by shrugging one’s shoulders and saying, “Well, we tried.” We cannot decide first what our capacities are for taking action and then try to solve the problem. Nature is not designed for our convenience. Our ancestors, going all the way back to the beginning, either adapted or perished.

So what can we do? We can fully embrace this challenge and prioritize our actions so that they are equal to the task. We aren’t trying to save the planet so much as we are trying to save our place on it.

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