Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Can We Avert Calamity

One hundred and ninety-five countries recently reached a consensus at the end of an historic meeting in Paris regarding the need to lower carbon emissions and thereby diminish our dependency upon fossil fuels as the predominant source of energy for human activity.  This, in itself, is a major breakthrough in that it represents a nearly universal recognition of the reality of climate change and its very real threat to the future of the species upon planet earth.  

However, there is a wide chasm between recognizing the threat and collectively implementing the degree and intensity of change that is required to meaningfully address the problem.  The enormity of the issue cannot be understated.  The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has already breached 400 parts per million (ppm).  This compares to ~ 270 ppm that was the measure of CO2 in the pre-industrial age.  The current level compares to eras in the earth’s distant past in which the climate conditions were of such extremes that human existence would be seriously constrained.  The effects of climate change are very much in evidence around the planet.  It is not within the scope of this article to attempt to enumerate the details.  Human activity is literally transforming the earth’s climate – no manner of obfuscation or denial can alter this reality.

The degree of political, social, cultural and religious unrest that seems to infest human communities throughout the world provides suggestive evidence that human beings are collectively unable to face the enormous challenges posed by the seemingly ineluctable “progress” of climate change.  In reality, there is no threat to the future viability of the human species greater than this issue.

In order to successfully and radically diminish the production of greenhouse gases to a degree that would obviate the threat to humans in the near and more distant future, action is required on a scale of unheard proportions.  This level of global cooperation will not be possible or even conceivable if we persist in responding to real or imagined threat with violence and irrational behavior; if we continue to value the self at the expense of the larger community; if we insist on showing little or no compassion for the hundreds of millions of our species faced with dire circumstance in everyday life and if we put the immediate interests of the State above the well-being of humanity.

Simply put, in my judgment, without true and lasting peace of mind and spirit both individually and collectively, the solution(s) to the problem of climate change will elude us.  In the final analysis, it is up to us – the viability of future generations of human beings is in in our collective hands.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Guns in America

We as a people need to accept the deep-seated social malaise that plagues us, if we are to ever resolve the issue around gun violence in America.  It goes deeper than the fact that murderous weapons are widely dispersed within the general population. 

There are many individuals within the fabric of this culture that suffer needlessly.  There are many men, women and children who live without a home and find themselves without sufficient resources to live a “normal” life.  There are many who are stricken with severe mental illness and have no recourse to adequate and sustaining care.  There are many people of color who feel the constant weight of intolerance; who bear the burden of unequal treatment under the law; who endure the unrelenting pain of racial prejudice.  There are many women who are subjected to derision simply because they seek to exert control over their own bodies.

As a society, we have chosen a path where the individual has been elevated to predominant position while the commons is being dismantled and those aspects of living that are essential to successful living such as access to adequate nutrition, shelter and health care are denied on a regular basis to so many in need.  We have, in essence, become a people without the necessary degree of compassion that would lead to an alleviation of this degree of suffering.

We have allowed the voices of ignorance, intolerance and in many cases sheer and unmitigated stupidity to secure a hold on the national psyche.  For example, in the face of unrelenting gun-related violence, there are suggestions – taken seriously – that the real solution to this issue is for everyone to carry guns.  This idea is absolute madness; for, it envisions a future where the social contract that is a necessary component of a sane society is completely obliterated. 

We have permitted illogical and spurious ideas to come to the forefront of serious national debate without being sufficiently challenged.  The most of egregious of these is, in my opinion, the contention that climate change is not real and of no consequence.   

In essence, if we do not collectively use reasoned judgment and a basic trust in reality-based information to fashion public policy grounded in compassion and a view towards a sane and sustainable future, we will effectively rob the future of possibilities for our descendants.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Climate Change Revisited

Despite the anti-science rhetoric that seems to have broad representation in the US Congress, climate change is a very real phenomenon that if unchecked will put the world's people in peril. If our collective behavior in regards to burning of fossil fuels continues unabated it will necessarily have a dramatic impart on peace and security in the world populated by future generations of human beings. The question we must pose to ourselves is, "Is this the legacy we want to leave behind?"

An example of what the future may have in store is what changes are occurring in the lives of the peoples of the Marshall Islands.