Is this challenge for the political process achievable?

In Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century: Information for Policy Makers (pdf) makes for depressing reading. We’re well on the way to stuffing up the planet’s climate, we’re causing species extinctions at a rate not seen since an asteroid hit the planet 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs, we’ve transformed 40% of the ice-free land on the planet through farming, logging and building towns and cities, we’re polluting the atmosphere and oceans, and population and resource consumption are growing fast.

All of these impacts feed on each other, and make it more likely that the planet will pass through tipping points that lead to irreversible changes. It’s not enough to work on just one issue — we have to work on all of them at the same time, and quickly. The longer we leave it, the more expensive and difficult it will be to prevent crisis turning into disaster. “Delaying even a decade may be too late,” the statement warns.

This is a huge challenge for the political process around the world. Progress on climate change — a problem first identified in the 1980s — has been pitifully slow. Economic and political inertia, exploited by industries that stand to lose if carbon emissions are cut, have made meaningful international action all but impossible to achieve. Thirty years of fine talk and empty promises mean that we’re now staring down the barrel of irreversible and highly damaging climate change.

It’s difficult to be optimistic that the world is suddenly going to sit up and pay attention. There’s too much money to be made, and influence to be bought, by carrying on with business as usual. Ultimately the planet will find a way to deal with humanity’s impacts if we don’t, and the outcome is unlikely to be pretty.


3 Responses to Is this challenge for the political process achievable?

  • How are we to instruct the children; how are they not to repeat our mistakes; how are all of us at a minimum to try and go forward sustainably, if those elders with knowledge refuse to share an understanding of what the best available science tells us about the population dynamics of the human species that is causing us to grow exponentially in a patently unsustainble way and by so doing, to destroy everything we claim to be protecting and preserving for those who come after us?

  • Creating Sustainable Communities under Ecological Limits to Growth
    By Gabor Zovanyi
    More than two decades of mounting evidence confirms that the existing scale of the human enterprise has surpassed global ecological limits to growth. Based on such limits,The No-Growth Imperative discounts current efforts to maintain growth through eco-efficiency initiatives and smart-growth programs, and argues growth is inherently unsustainable and that the true nature of the challenge confronting us now is one of replacing the current growth imperative with a no-growth imperative.
    Gabor Zovanyi asserts that anything less than stopping growth would merely slow today’s dramatic degradation and destruction of ecosystems and their critical life-support services. Zovanyi makes the case that local communities must take action to stop their unsustainable demographic, economic, and urban increases, as an essential prerequisite to the realization of sustainable states.
    The book presents rationales and legally defensible strategies for stopping growth in local jurisdictions, and portrays the viability of no-growth communities by outlining their likely economic, social, political, and physical features. It will serve as a resource for those interested in shifting the focus of planning from growth accommodation to the creation of stable, sustainable communities… Zovanyi concludes by presenting evidence that suggests that prospects for realizing states of no growth are greater than might be assumed.

  • Even if human overpopulation is most colossal of the human-driven global challenges looming ominously before humankind, it is only one of a number of wicked problems we are called upon to acknowledge and address. The Fukushima nuclear reactors disaster is another. If Japan cannot handle it alone, then an international team needs to be assembled to confront this cataclysm. Ignoring a big problem like this nuclear wreckage only results in a bigger, ever more wicked problem to overcome. My generation is simply not stepping up to the challenges before us. The consequences of our failures appear incalculably harmful and profound with regard prospects for a good enough future for children everywhere on Earth. The very last thing a responsible person is to do in such circumstances is consciously and deliberately choose to remain silent, I believe. Are we not participants in and witnesses to a colossal failure of nerve? When are the leaders and followers alike going to speak out in an intellectually honest way and act with a sense of moral courage? How terrible are global challenges posed by nuclear disasters, overpopulation, climate destabilization, pollution, biodiversity loss, among other threats to future human well being and environmental health going to have to become on Earth before TPTB begin to talk about and do the right things, according to the lights and best available knowledge all of them and each of us possess?

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