Countries vowed to cut carbon emissions. They aren’t even close to their goals, U.N. report finds
Sometimes, when I write scary essays, I encourage you not to read them. This one’s different. It’s going to be brutal, scary, jarring, and alarming. But if you want my thoughts on the future, then read away.
It strikes me that the planet’s fate is now probably sealed. We have just a decade in which to control climate change?—?or goodbye, an unknown level of catastrophic, inescapable, runaway warming is inevitable. The reality is: we’re probably not going to make it. It’s highly dubious at this juncture that humanity is going to win the fight against climate change.
Yet that is for a very unexpected?—?yet perfectly predictable?—?reason: the sudden explosion in global fascism?—?which in turn is a consequence of capitalism having failed as a model of global order.
If, when, Brazil elects a neo-fascist who plans to raze and sell off the Amazon?—?the world’s lungs?—?then how do you suppose the fight against warming will be won? It will be set back by decades?—?decades…we don’t have.
America’s newest Supreme Court justice is already striking down environmental laws?—?in his first few days in office?—?but he will be on the bench for life…beside a President who hasn’t just decimated the EPA, but stacked it with the kind of delusional simpletons who think global warming is a hoax. Again, the world is set by back by decades…it doesn’t have. Do you see my point yet? Let me make it razor sharp.
My friends, catastrophic climate change is not a problem for fascists?—?it is a solution. History’s most perfect, lethal, and efficient one means of genocide, ever, period. Who needs to build a camp or a gas chamber when the flood and hurricane will do the dirty work for free?
Please don’t mistake this for conspiracism: climate change accords perfectly with the foundational fascist belief that only the strong should survive, and the weak?—?the dirty, the impure, the foul?—?should perish. That is why neo-fascists do not lift a finger to stop climate change?—?but do everything they can to in fact accelerate it, and prevent every effort to reverse or mitigate it.
But I want to tell you the sad, strange, terrible story of how we got here. Call it a lament for a planet, if you like. You see, not so long ago, we?—?the world?—?were optimistic that climate change could be managed, in at least some way. The worst impacts probably avoided, forestalled, escaped?—?if we worked together as a world. But now we are not so sure at all. Why is that? What happened? Fascism happened?—?at precisely the wrong moment. That shredded all our plans. But fascism happened because capitalism failed?—?failed for the world, but succeeded wildly for capitalists.
Now, this will be a subtle story, because I want to tell it to you the way it should be told. Let me begin with an example, and zoom out from there.
The world is in the midst of a great mass extinction?—?one of just a handful in history. Now, if we had been serious, at any point, really, about preventing climate catastrophe, we would have made an effort to “price in” this extinction?—?with a new set of global measures for GDP and profit and costs and tariffs and taxes and so on.
But we didn’t, so all these dead beings, these animals and plants and microbes and so on?—?strange and wonderful things we will never know - are “unpriced” in the foolish, self-destructive economy we have made. Life is literally free to capitalism, and so capitalism therefore quite naturally abuses it and destroys it, in order to maximize its profits, and that is how you get a spectacular, eerie, grim mass extinction in half a century, of which there have only been five in all of previous history.
But biological life was not the only unpaid cost?—?“negative externality” - of capitalism. It was just one. And these unpaid costs weren’t to be additive: they were to multiply, exponentiate, snarl upon themselves - in ways that we would come to find impossible to then untangle. (And all this was what economists and thinkers, especially American ones, seemed to whistle at and walk away, anytime someone suggested it.)
You see, capitalism promised people - the middle classes which had come to make up the modern world?—?better lives. But it had no intention of delivering - its only goal was to maximize profits for the owners of capital, not to make anyone else one iota richer.
So first it ate through people’s towns and cities and communities, then through social systems, then through their savings, and finally, through their democracies. Even if people’s incomes “rose”, cleverly, the prices they paid for the very same things which capitalism sold back to them with the other hand, the very things they were busy producing, rose even more?—?and so middle classes began to stagnate, while inequality exploded.
Let’s specify the unpaid costs in question: trust, connection, cohesion, belonging, meaning, purpose, truth itself.
These were social costs?—?not environmental ones, like the mass extinction above. And I will make the link between the two clear in just a moment. First I want you to understand their effect.
A sense of frustration, of resignation, of pessimism came to sweep the world. People lost trust in their great systems and institutions. They turned away from democracy, and towards authoritarianism, in a great, thunderous wave, which tilted the globe on its very axis. The wave rippled outward from history’s greatest epicenter of human stupidity, America, like a supersonic tsunami, crossing Europe, reaching Asia’s shores, crashing south into Brazil, cresting far away in Australia.
Nations fell like dominoes to a new wave of fascists, who proclaimed the same things as the old ones?—?reichs and camps and reigns of the pure. People began to turn on those below them?—?the powerless one, the different one, the Mexican, the Jew, the Muslim— in the quest for just the sense of superiority and power, the fortune and glory, capitalism had promised them, but never delivered.
The capitalists had gotten rich - unimaginably rich. They were richer than kings of old. But capitalism had imploded into fascism. History laughed at the foolishness of people who once again believed, like little children hearing a fairy tale, that capitalism - which told people to exploit and abuse one another, not hold each other close, mortal and frail things that they are?—?was somehow ever going to benefit them.
Now. Let me connect the dots of capitalism’s unpaid social and environmental costs, and how they are linked, not additively, 2+2=5, but with the mathematics of catastrophe.
When we tell the story of how capitalism imploded into fascism, it will go something like this: the social costs of capitalism meant that democracy collapsed into neo-fascism?—?and neo-fascism made it unlikely, if not outright impossible, that the world could do anything at all about climate change, in the short window it had left, at the precise juncture it needed to act most. Do you see the link? The terrible and tragic irony? How funny and sad it is?
The social costs of capitalism weren’t just additive to the environmental costs - they were more like multiplicative, snarled upon themselves, like a great flood meeting a great hurricane. The social costs exponentiated the environmental, making them now impossible to reduce, pay, address, manage. 2+2 didn’t equal 4?—?it equalled infinity, in this case. Both together made a system that spiralled out of control. Wham! The planet’s fate was being sealed, by capitalism imploding into fascism?—?which meant that a disintegrating world could hardly work together anymore to solve its greatest problem of all.
Let me sharpen all that a little. By 2005, after a great tussle, much of the world had agreed on a plan to reduce carbon emissions - the Kyoto Protocol. It was just barely enough - barely - to imagine that one day climate change might be lessened and reduced enough to be manageable. Still, there was one notable holdout - as usual, America.
Now, at this point, the world, which was in a very different place politically than it is today, imagined that with enough of the usual diplomatic bickering and horse-trading, maybe, just maybe, it would get the job done. And yet by 2010 or so, the point of all this, which was to create a global carbon pricing system had still not been accomplished - in large part thanks to America, whose unshakeable devotion to capitalism meant that such a thing was simply politically impossible.
So by this point the world was behind - and yet, one could still imagine a kind of success. Maybe an American President would come along who would see sense. Maybe progress was going in the right direction, generally. After all, slowly, the world was making headway, towards less carbon emissions, towards a little more cooperation, here and there.
And then - Bang! America was the first nation to fall to the neo fascist wave. Instead of a President who might have taken the country into a decarbonized future, Americans elected the king of the idiots (no, please don’t give me an apologia for the electoral college.)
This king of the idiots did what kings of idiots do: he lionized, of all things... coal. He questioned whether climate change was…real. He packed the government with lobbyists and cronies who were quite happy to see the world burn, if it meant a penthouse overlooking a drowned Central Park.
He broke up with allies, friends, and partners. Do you see the point? The idea of a decarbonizing future was suddenly turned on its head. It had been a possibility yesterday?—?but now, it was becoming an impossibility.
Before the neofascist wave, the world might have indeed “solved” climate change. Maybe not in the hard sense that life would go on tomorrow as it does today?—?but in the soft sense that the worst and most vicious scenarios were mostly outlandish science fiction. That is because before the neofascist wave, we could imagine nations cooperating, if slowly, reluctantly, in piecemeal ways, towards things like protecting life, reducing carbon, pricing in the environment, and so on. These things can only be done through global cooperation, after all.
But after the neofascist wave, global cooperation - especially of a genuinely beneficial kind, not a predatory kind - began to become less and less possible by the day. The world was unravelling.
When countries were trashing the United Nations and humiliating their allies and proclaiming how little they needed the world (all to score minor-league wins for oligarchs, who cashed in their chips, laughing ) - how could such a globe cooperate more then? It couldn't - and it can't. So the neofascist wave which we are now in also means drastically less global cooperation - but less global cooperation means incalculably worse climate change.
So now let’s connect all the dots. Capitalism didn’t just rape the planet laughing, and cause climate change that way. It did something which history will think of as even more astonishing. By quite predictably imploding into fascism at precisely the moment when the world needed cooperation, it made it impossible, more or less, for the fight against climate change to gather strength, pace, and force.
It wasn’t just the environmental costs of capitalism which melted down the planet - it was the social costs, too, which, by wrecking global democracy, international law, cooperation, the idea that nations should work together, made a fractured, broken world which no longer had the capability to act jointly to prevent the rising floodwaters and the burning summers.
(Now, it’s at this point that Americans will ask me, a little angrily, for “solutions”. Ah, my friends. When will you learn? Don’t you remember my point?)
There are no solutions, because these were never “problems” to begin with. The planet, like society, is a garden, which needs tending, watering, care. The linkages between these things - inequality destabilizing societies making global cooperation less possible - are not things we can fix overnight, by turning a nut or a bolt, or throwing money at them. They never were.
They are things we needed to see long ago, to really reject together, and invest in, nurture, protect, defend, for decades--so that capitalism did not melt down into fascism, and take away all our power to fight for our worlds, precisely when we would need it most.
But we did not do that. We were busy “solving problems”. Problems like…hey, how can I get my laundry done? Can I get my package delivered in one hour instead of one day? Wow--you mean I don’t have to walk down the street to get my pizza anymore? Amazing!!
In this way, we solved all the wrong problems, if you like, but I would say that we solved mechanical problems instead of growing up as people.
Things like climate change and inequality and fascism are not really “problems”--they are emergent processes, which join up, in great tendrils of ruin, each piling on the next, which result from decades of neglect, inaction, folly, blindness.
We did not plant the seeds, or tend to our societies, economies, democracies, or planet carefully enough--and now we are harvesting bitter ruin instead. Maybe you see my point. Or maybe you don’t see my point at all. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a tough one to catch sight of.)
The tables have turned. The problem isn’t climate change anymore, and the solution isn’t global cooperation--at least given today’s implosive politics. The problem is you--if you are not one of the chosen, predatory few. And the solution to the problem of you is climate change. To the fascists, that is. They are quite overjoyed to have found the most spectacular and efficient and lethal engine of genocide and devastation known to humankind, which is endless, free natural catastrophe. Nothing sorts the strong from the weak more ruthlessly like a flooded planet, a thundering sky, a forest in flames, a parched ocean. A man with a gun is hardly a match for a planet on fire.
I think this much becomes clearer by the year: we have failed, my friends, to save our home. How funny that we are focused, instead, on our homelands. It would be funny, disgraceful, and pathetic of me to say: is there still time to save ourselves?
That is the kind of nervous, anxious selfishness that Americans are known for--and it is only if we reject it, really, that we learn the lesson of now. Let us simply imagine, instead, that despite all the folly and stupidity and ruin of this age, the strongmen and the weak-minded, in those dark and frightening nights when the rain pours and the thunder roars, we might still light a candle for democracy, for freedom, and for truth. The truth is that we do not deserve to be saved if we do not save them first.
"We are governed, rather, by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “inverted totalitarianism.” By this Wolin means a system where corporate power, while it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the three branches of government and a free press, along with the iconography and language of American patriotism, has in fact seized all the important levers of power to render the citizen impotent...
"Obama’s assault has been worse—the Bush bailouts of big banks, the endless imperial wars, the failure to regulate Wall Street, the hiring of corporate lobbyists to write legislation and serve in top government positions, the explosion of drilling and fracking, the security and surveillance state as well as the persecution of government whistle-blowers...
"The Obama administration, in return for financial support from these kingpins of carbon, has cynically undermined international climate treaties, a fact we discovered only because of the revelations provided by Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. It uses its intelligence agencies, these revelations revealed, to spy on those carrying out climate negotiations to thwart caps on carbon emissions and push through useless, nonbinding agreements...
"If we appeal to self-identified liberals in the establishment who have no capacity or desire to carry out the radical reforms, we will pour energy into a black hole. And this is what the corporate state seeks. It seeks to perpetuate the facade of democracy...
"If the response of the corporate state is repression rather than reform then our strategy and our tactics must be different. We will have to cease our appealing to the system. We will have to view the state, including the Democratic Party, as antagonistic to genuine reform. We will have to speak in the language of ... revolution."
The World is Turning Catastrophically Stupid. Here’s How Not to Join It.
I’d bet, these days, shortly after reading the headlines, you’ve thought, shaking your head and muttering, something like: “Jesus. We live in an age of impossibly catastrophic stupid.”
You’re not wrong. About a decade or so ago, hot on the heels of the financial crisis, something happened?—?an old story began to be rewritten, as the world found itself poorer once again. There was an explosion, somewhere deep in the human heart, and a tsunami rippled across the globe?—?one boiling and bubbling with every imaginable variety of stupid: human folly, gleeful ignorance, self-destructive greed, reckless spite, dim-witted cruelty parading itself as enlightenment.
And so now a tsunami of imbecility is rolling like a slow-motion thermonuclear bomb across the globe. Lightning bolts of foolishness shiver down it. Smoke clouds of idiocy billow from it. Here are the five kinds of stupid wrecking the globe?—?because your first job, these days, as a human being, is to make sure you’re not being turned into an imbecile by this wave of stupid, too.
Economic stupid is nationalism, populism, or austerity, three words that craftily mean the same thing. It’s the idea that “we don’t have the money to pay for it!!”, whether “it” is school lunches, healthcare, education, parks, libraries, media, or trains. Sure we have the money. What do you think an era of zero interest rates mean? It means that there is so much money sloshing around in the treasure chests of the global economy, so much loot piled up by Jeff Bezoses and Bill Gateses, that there is nowhere left to put it. Not a single place: all the yachts, super mansions, and trophy castles have been bought.
Nada left to buy equals zilch interest to lend at. Zero interest doesn’t just means “societies can borrow for better than free and give everyone healthcare, education, an income, and savings”?—?it means that if they don’t, the economy will go right on cruising into oblivion, because that money will go on piling at the top, instead of doing anything remotely useful, beneficial, or necessary.
Now, who’s the prime exemplar of austerity? America, of course. There, thanks to four decades of people imbecilically destroying their very own government, those very people live in rank indignity--they have no healthcare, retirement, pensions, safety nets, and therefore, they have no mobility, opportunity, stability, security, and therefore, quite reasonably, they have no hope or optimism left, which is why they’re turning to harder and harder drugs to numb the pain of it all.
But see the point: the nationalist says: “us first!!!”, but ironically, he only means “them last!!” He is too stupid to invest in his very own society. He wants, instead, to kick out the scapegoats, exclude the minority, scorn the weak. But he doesn’t see that “us first” and “them last” are not opposites?—?they quite often go hand in hand in a race to the bottom of the abyss. Ah, only a true imbecile would confuse up for down.
So my next form of stupid is social stupid. Social stupid is the idea that a society can function without a social contract. That Uber can replace ambulances and hyperloops can replace buses and what next? Vending machines can replace hospitals and schools, I guess.
“Wait, Umair!”, you cry. “Who’d be stupid enough to believe that? LOL!” Alas, as it turns out, plenty. All those extremist parties arising around the globe? They look to America as an example--not as a warning. That’s what they want to become. Hence, the bombastic demagogues that run them stand for cutting public services, deconstructing governance, shredding the social contract, and replacing it with various forms of authoritarianism, kleptocracy, and feudalism, which don’t really have social contracts as much as pledges of fealty. It took human beings millennia to develop these things called social contracts--and yet here we are, timewarping backwards centuries by the month.
But it’s not just demagogues and extremists who want fealty these days, is it? I read an article in the Guardian where Elon Musk said that to survive the next World War, we have to colonize Mars. Ahahaha LOL. Elon. My dude, my dude. Maybe we could try to…prevent the next world war? You know, save millions of lives, instead of running away while they turn into radioactive dust?
That’s my third form of stupid. It’s technological. Let’s call this one techno-determinism?--he idea that we can engineer solutions to our problems, like, say going to Mars. Elon hasn’t quite considered the fact that if humans who make world wars go to a different planet, all that’s likely to happen is world wars on Mars, Venus, and Pluto. We can’t solve human problems with technology.
That’s why Twitter turned into the world’s largest emotional toiletbowl, why Facebook chose profits over democracy, and why YouTube is a place kids go to get educated on subjects like murder, bullying, and torture, not, say Renaissance literature and watercolours. Now, this form of stupid, techno-determinism, goes deeper than we think. But let me try to boil it down.
Do you think that we can even really see human problems without ever reading books, watching plays, studying ourselves, and learning history? If you do, congratulations, you’re a techno-determinist, you just don’t know it.
But techno-determinism is hardly alone in it’s raging quest for easy, comfortable solutions, that require no thought, consideration, reflection, or growth. This brings me to my fourth form of stupid. It’s cultural. Let me call it salvationism.
The rise of extremist religion, whether Islamic, Christian, or otherwise? Salvation--in the next world, so who needs this one? The rise of demagogues and strong men? Salvation--safety in daddy’s muscular arms. The rise of bizarre forms of magical thought--on both the left and right, the right-wing version being “race science” and genetic determinism, just like in the good old Nazi days, and the left version being the idea that shouting at Donald Trump on Twitter is going actually resolve problems of poverty, abuse, and violence?
Salvation, my old friend. Everwhere we look, people want a way out of this age. It’s no surprise that they look for the easiest, least painful one. You might laugh at opioid addicts?—?but I’d bet if you look at yourself a little more carefully, well...
And that brings me to my fifth and final form of stupid. It’s the biggest one of all, and it’s psychological. Denial. We are in deep, profound denial about... everything, more or less.
Take America again. Just a few weeks ago, kids were massacred with a machine gun. The nation went hysterical--and now it’s back to mostly caring about TV shows. Denial.
Nobody can pretend they don’t know kids massacring each other is terrible--they can only be in denial, no? But I could extend that example endlessly--because my first four forms of stupid are really also forms of denial. Nationalism, extremism, demagoguery, the rebirth of literal Nazism, salvationism, determinism--all the manifold, maddening forms of stupidity that define this age of globally catastrophic stupid--these are all strategies of denial. Denying someone else rights, dignity, a chance, a future, belonging, a self.
Denial. Self-chosen ignorance. Socially constructed mass delusions. Overweening folly. About the world, humanity, life, and each other. Things will be OK, go back to normal. We stick our fingers and cry “LA LA LA LA!!” at the merest mention of even the tiniest inconvenient truth?—?quick, change the channel, unlike that person, unfollow. So here are a few of those truths, now that I’ve got you in a position where you can’t squirm away so easily.
The climate is changing. Inequality is spiking. Young people’s lives are declining. The global economy is broken. Democracy is slowly fading, if not dying. We are in deep, deep shit as a world, as a species, as human beings. I could go on.
The point isn’t to depress you. Sorry, you’re not that important. The point is that it isn’t about you. What isn’t? This. All of it. The planet. Society. Democracy. Life. Even your life. Denial is a way to retain one’s egoism, really, to cling to the delusion that one is all-powerful. “If I ignore it long enough, it’ll go away!!” Sorry. You just don’t matter that much. The great truth of this age begins right there.
The world is telling us something pretty important these days, if we listen. It is that we don’t matter at all. Not this way. We have lived all wrong for the last century or so. Materialism, rationalism, individualism. What have they produced? Greed, brutality, cunning, competition. What have those produced? At a human level--beneath the festooned gadgets and the glittering spires? Loneliness, bitterness, rage, anger, fear, envy. Inequality and stagnation and immobility and decline. Despair and cruelty and misery at the meaningless of it all.
But it is we ourselves who chose all this. This meaninglessness. This futility, emptiness, hollowness. We chose it by saying nothing mattered at all, except winning, conquest, cruelty, possession. Nothing mattered except having the power to make nothing matter.
That, my friends, is the definition of imbecility. This is the age of the imbecile.
The point is to make it all matter again. Society. Democracy. Prosperity. Life. The planet. Each other. Then we will matter again, too. But if we do not make those things matter, then we will not either. We will vanish, unremembered, like the dust on the wind that we are. Tiny blind creatures who thought they were something more than that?—?how funny. Swept away by the oceans in the blink of an eye. And not a star in the universe wept a tear.
That is the message of this age. But we are not quite ready to hear it yet, I fear. What does it really mean, this word, “stupid”? It means something like: “what I thought would matter didn’t, and what I thought wouldn’t did. I got it all backwards. Doh! I was so stupid.” Doesn’t that describe where we are today? We made everything meaningless, a game, a contest, a reality show, including ourselves, keep right on doing it, and then wonder--“wait!! why is my life going nowhere?! Why don’t I matter?!” Ah. Well. That’s because nothing matters to you, including and beginning with you--not the planet, democracy, society, prosperity, your grandkids, nor your mind, heart, body, or soul.
Such a person is an imbecile, who cannot assign meaning to the world, only subtract meaning from it. And that’s because they swallow lies most children wouldn’t believe. Cruelty is kindness. Put your neighbour last. Scorn the weak. Despise the stranger. Such lies make fools of us--because when we believe them, soon enough, nothing means anything, except our immediate desires, but in that way, nothing much matters at all, and in the end, we are left baffled by the lack of meaning in our worlds, selves, lives.
That---assigning, giving, and deriving meaning--is the signal test of intelligence. Human beings are failing spectacularly it today. The world is engulfed in stupid, which is a way to say: nothing means anything, precisely because the only kind of power we desire anymore is the power to take meaning away from things, not give meaning to them.
A world of self-interested pleasure-maximizing robots in human flesh will happily watch everything burn for another hit of greed, envy, power, and hate. And that level of stupid, that absolute and total lack of meaning, which is what totalitarianism really is, is what must begin with changing if we are to come back to our senses again.
CoalStop the Coal Plant From Moving Into Your Neighborhood Texas focus. Ralph Nader.
"...the choice of Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai as this year's Nobel Peace Prizewinner... stands as an implicit rebuke to the environmental backwardness of America's political and media classes...
"The Bush administration remains in denial about climate change even though its closest overseas ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said in September that climate change is the single biggest long-term problem his nation faces. Blair's top scientific adviser, David King, has gone further, declaring that climate change is the biggest threat civilization has ever faced--bigger even than the global terrorism that dominates headlines and obsesses George W. Bush. King warned in July that there is now enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to melt all the ice on earth. which would put most of the world's biggest cities under water, starting with low-lying metropolises like New York, London and New Orleans...
Climate change is to the twenty-first century what the nuclear arms race was to the twentieth: the overriding threat to humanity's continued existence on this planet. And it is already killing people. In the summer of 2003, some 15,000 people died in France from an unprecedented heat wave. No single weather event can be definitively attributed to climate change, but such heat waves are exactly what scientists expect as warming intensifies. If climate change is not moderated, more will die in years to come--either directly, through declines in food production and the spread of infectious disease...
"... most US journalists still don't get it. At best, they see climate change as just one of many environmental issues. At worst, they are still fooled by industry propaganda casting doubt on the science behind claims of climate change...
"Now that Russia supports Kyoto, the United States and Australia are the only major industrial countries outside the protocol" (Mark Hertsgaard. "Climate, the Absent Issue." The Nation, Nov. 1, 2004: 3).
Quotes"Our gross national product ... if we should judge the United States of America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.?" – Robert F. Kennedy
“Anything else you are interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolute critical moment in the history of our planet.” ~ Carl Sagan
"Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us." - Bill Nye [the science guy]
"The cost of our success is the exhaustion of natural resources, leading to energy crises, climate change, pollution, and the destruction of our habitat. If you exhaust natural resources, there will be nothing left for your children. If we continue in the same direction, humankind is headed for some frightful ordeals, if not extinction." - Christian de Duve [Nobel Prize-winning Belgian cytologist and biochemist]
“Greed has poisoned men’s souls” ~ Charlie Chaplin, ‘The Great Dictator’, 1940
"We are all living together on a single planet, which is threatened by our own actions. And if you don't have some kind of global cooperation, nationalism is just not on the right level to tackle the problems, whether it's climate change or whether it's technological disruption." - Yuval Noah Harari [Israeli historian, philosopher and best-selling author]
"Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course." - Ban Ki-moon [South Korean diplomat who was the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations]
“If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4°C, 5°C or 6°C, you might have half a billion people surviving.” ~ Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
"As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions." - Al Gore
"The world that you and I live in is increasingly challenged. Population growth, pollution, over-consumption, unsustainable patterns, social conflict, climate change, loss of nature... these are not good stories." - Jack Dangermond [(born 1945) is an American billionaire businessman and environmental scientist]
“Winning slowly is the same as losing.” ~ Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of 350.org
"Climate change is a terrible problem, and it absolutely needs to be solved. It deserves to be a huge priority." - Bill Gates
"Anybody who doesn't see the impact of climate change is really, I would say, myopic. They don't see the reality. It's so evident that we are destroying Mother Earth. This is not the problem of one country or a few countries: it is the problem of mankind. We need to work together to stop this. Otherwise, our future generations will simply disappear." - Juan Manuel Santos [Former President of Colombia]
“I still do not understand why we don’t have people on the streets every single day raising their voices for climate.” ~ Christiana Figueres, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary, 27 June 2013 – at a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey
"Climate change joined immigration, job creation, food safety, pilot training, veterans' care, campaign finance, transportation security, labor law, mine safety, wildfire management, and scores of executive and judicial appointments on the list of matters that the world's greatest deliberative body is incapable of addressing." - George Packer [staff writer for The New Yorker]
"The power of the individual, market forces, and the private sector permeate our lives. With that power comes responsibility to address huge challenges. Climate change cannot be solved by governments alone. Xenophobia, hatred, and intolerance - more business leaders have to play a role in trying to be positive leaders, civic leaders." - Daniel Lubetzky [Mexican-American entrepreneur, author and activist]
“You cannot run from your problem. You have to dance with it.” ~ Vietnamese proverb
"Wind and other clean, renewable energy will help end our reliance on fossil fuels and combat the severe threat that climate change poses to humans and wildlife alike." - Frances Beinecke [served as NRDC's president from 2006 to 2015]
"The shift to a cleaner energy economy wont happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact." - Barack Obama.
“We are what we think. All that we are, arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” ~ Gautama Buddha (563–483 BC), teacher and religious leader. Translated by T. Byrom, Shambhala Publications, in 1993
"We can be thankful President Barack Obama is taking aim at one of the prime causes of climate change and extreme weather: air pollution. The EPA's carbon pollution standards are the most significant step forward our country has ever taken to protect our health by addressing climate change." Donna Brazile [American political strategist, campaign manager, political analyst, and author]
"It's coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It's not just climate change; it's sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now." - Sir David Attenborough [English broadcaster and natural historian]
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~ African proverb
"Climate change, in some regions, has aggravated conflict over scarce land, and could well trigger large-scale migration in the decades ahead. And rising sea levels put at risk the very survival of all small island states. These and other implications for peace and security have implications for the United Nations itself." - Ban Ki-moon
"Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity, perhaps ever. Global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate, causing drought and forest fires and impacting human health." - Cary Kennedy [former Colorado State Treasurer, as well as a former Deputy Mayor and Chief Financial Officer of Denver, Colorado]
“My final advice for young people is to not wait for leadership from adult politicians. Step forward today, because our current leaders are denying the dire reality we are facing. Leadership can come form anywhere.” ~ Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International
“We are the last people who can prevent catastrophe on the planet. We have no excuse for failure.” ~ Amina J. Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general, May 2017
“We would never consider this level of risk in any other walk of life, yet we seem prepared to take this risk with our planet. Conversely, the scientific evidence shows that we can create a positive future, but only with bold action now.” ~ Johan Rockström, chair of the Earth League, an international group of scientists from leading research institutions “What changes our planet is consciousness. What creates consciousness is education” ~ Bank of the Planet – investments generation information and actions
“I think calling it climate change is rather limiting. I would rather call it the everything change.” ~ Margaret Atwood, in a Slate.com interview published on 6 February 2015
“Sometimes the riskiest decision you can make is to do nothing.” ~ Richard Branson, Virgin
“The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement
“I have become convinced that climate change is the biggest threat to human rights in the 21st century.” ~ Mary Robinson, former UN high commissioner for human rights, president of Ireland 1990-1997
“Investing one cent more in oil, coal and gas is investing in the death of society, and the in the death of our children.” ~ Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International – interviewed in Philippino tv programme on ANC (13:19-13:35). Uploaded on youtube.com on 4 June 2013
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” ~ Anna Lappe
“Decarbonisation is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first.” ~ Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica, May 2018
“All that stands in the way of saving the planet is a combination of ignorance, prejudice and vested interests.” ~ Moms Clean Air Force
“Live simply so others can simply live. Climate change is a global emergency. Carbon pollution kills. Polluters should pay.” ~ John Pratt
“In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality.” ~ Naomi Klein, Canadian author and activist
“It’s not enough that we do our best. Sometimes we have to do what’s required.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill, British politician (1874–1965). [At a United Nations meeting in November 2016, Secretary of State for the United States John Kerry used this quote as he talked about the need for states to stop subsidising fossil fuels:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ~ Richard Buckminster Fuller, American author (1895–1983)
“They’re polluting the planet for free, and you’re paying the price” ~ Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens
“It’s not climate change that needs to be tackled. It is the political power of fossil fuel industry.” ~ Richard Denniss, chief economist, The Australia Institute
“The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.” ~ Bruce Duncan ‘Utah’ Phillips (1935–2008), American folk singer and poet
“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.” ~ Barack Obama, American president
“The principle of the maximisation of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy.” ~ Pope Francis’ teaching letter, ‘Laudato Si’
“The secret of change is to focus all our energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ ‘Socrates’, a character in the book ‘Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman, 1980
“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.” Pete Seeger, American singer
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion” ~ Paulo Coelho, author
“We are dealing with issues that are critical to human nature. There has to be a way to come together and do it right, to protect the environment and human rights. We can go to the moon, for goodness sake! Why can’t we deal with this? It’s a matter of setting our priorities, establishing our values.” ~ Sister Sheila Kinsey, Justice Peace & Integrity of Creation Committee
“I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy… and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.” ~ Gus Speth, former dean of forestry and environmental studies at Yale
“Dare to turn what is happening in the world into your own personal suffering and thus discover what each of us can do about it.” ~ Pope Francis (@Pontifex) 19 June 2015
“Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change. [We must reject] a system that has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.” ~ Reuters reporting from Pope Francis’ speech in Bolivia on 9 July 2015
“When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears.” ~ Pope Francis’ teaching letter, ‘Laudato Si’
“Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.” ~ Pope Francis’ teaching letter, ‘Laudato Si’
How crisp fall temperatures can turn the atmosphere into a megaphone
Colby Glass, MLIS