What have we committed to? We have committed to a lifestyle that will not sustain us.
Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history … The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen … Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions … (are) driven largely by economic and population growth … Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped. (Source: IPCC 5AR, SPM)
(Source: IPCC 5AR, SPM http://ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/)
The more pressing question is, how will we wrench ourselves from this unhealthy commitment?
Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions … Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for reducing and managing the risks of climate change … Effective decision making to limit climate change and its effects can be informed by a wide range of analytical approaches for evaluating expected risks and benefits, recognizing the importance of governance, ethical dimensions, equity, value judgments, economic assessments and diverse perceptions and responses to risk and uncertainty. (Source: IPCC 5AR, SPM)
According to Dawn Stover, a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists columnist, “The world needs an emissions diet plan—and a full complement of socio-economic incentives and support systems to ensure its success.” (Source: http://thebulletin.org/climate-change-irreversible-not-unstoppable8044) Stover says that this statement is about as helpful as telling an obese person that eating less will yield weight loss.
Perhaps we must start with a stark assessment of our most ugly trait – aggression. According to Stephen Hawking, “The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression … It may have had survival advantages in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.” (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/23/stephen-hawking-aggression_n_6733584.html)
What if we were willing to commit a drastically different lifestyle, one that will sustain us? A lifestyle that elevates the concept of commitment to one another and to our life-sustaining planet? Let’s start by defining commitment:
- a promise to do or give something
- a promise to be loyal to someone or something
- the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something
Are we capable of nurturing a healthy commitment to ourselves, to each other, and to our planet, or must we develop a legal and enforcement system that protects us from ourselves? Perhaps we are due another visit from Klaatu.
©Taryn Fisher 2015