Commitment

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)

Global CO2 Emissions

(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)

Stephen Hawking

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

(Source:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commitment)

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.

Klaatu

(Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaatu_%28The_Day_the_Earth_Stood_Still%29)

©Taryn Fisher 2015

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A Moral Imperative: JFK takes a stand

Fifty years ago today, on June 11, 1963, General Henry Graham, the head of the Alabama Guard (which had been federalized by President John F. Kennedy) ordered Alabama Governor George Wallace to stop blocking two black students, James Hood and Vivian Malone, from entering the University of Alabama’s Foster Auditorium to register for classes.

That evening, President Kennedy informed citizens across America via a televised address that he was sending a federal civil-rights bill to Congress.  During his address, he said, “I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents …  We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.”

For JFK’s full address:  http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3375

For other speeches on Civil Rights:  http://www.history.com/speeches/john-f-kennedy-on-desegregation-at-ole-miss#john-f-kennedy-on-desegregation-at-ole-miss

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Photo courtesy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cSrvqYKQH8

A few hours later, Medgar Evers, a World War II veteran and civil-rights activist, was assassinated.

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Photo courtesy en.wikipedia.org

It’s critically important that desegregation was framed as a moral issue.  Doing this put the onus on every American citizen to do the right thing:  support this cause with both words and actions.  JFK argued that a problem this significant could not be solved through legislation alone.  He said, “It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.”

The same holds true for the issue that we face today:  environmental degradation.

We are consuming natural resources faster than the rate of  replenishment.  We are stripping the earth to satisfy our needs and wants and leaving behind a path of pollution.  Environmental degradation is an issue of such magnitude that we – each and every one of us, living in every corner of the world – must act.  We must consume less and do so less harmfully, and we must ensure the replenishment of extracted natural resources upon which our survival depends.

This is neither a partisan issue nor one of corporations versus individuals.  It is, however, an issue that requires us to work together to achieve a goal greater than ourselves.  We must redirect our efforts away from argument and toward collaborative action.

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Photo courtesy http://www.history.com

©Taryn Fisher 2013

Today is Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day

Food Revolution Day on May 17, 2013 is a global day of action for people to make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills. It’s a chance for people to come together within their homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skills, food knowledge and resources. Food Revolution Day aims to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone by focusing on three simple actions – cook it, share it, live it.

http://edibleschoolyard.org/resource/food-revolution-day-2013

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Words Change the World

Frederick Douglass – prominent abolitionist, author, and orator – was born into slavery.  He used words to change the world, saying, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress … The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both … Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did and it never will.”

http://www.frederickdouglass.org/douglass_bio.html

Photo courtesy http://www.bedfordstmartins.com