Scientists and politicians are running out of words of warning to describe the coming disaster, while evidenced solutions comprise less than 10% of media coverage.
Rabat – Whenever I tell people that climate change is one of the key reasons for not wanting to have children, they often look at me with disbelief. Despite ever escalating cries of warning from the world’s foremost experts, humanity continues its climate change delusion that life on Earth will continue as it has for millennia.
Everyday we live our lives, buy cars, go on vacations and make long-term life decisions as if the climate crisis is just another reason to be demanding that politics “gets its act together.”
Psychologically it is understandable that we do not live with the constant feeling of doom that ought to arise when hearing politicians declare that we are “on the verge of the abyss,” as UN chief Antonio Guterres aptly described the situation on April 19.
Similar to how humans psychologically ignore the knowledge of our own inevitable death, we appear to treat the climate crisis with a similar resigned numbness.
This “physic numbness” makes the climate crisis just another political issue, another topic to “care about.” Ignoring our own finite existence might not harm us much, yet ignoring a pending global crisis will harm us and generations to come.
The global climate catastrophe is already well under way, and driven by a perverse climate apartheid. People living in poverty in the Global South are bearing by far the most significant impact of the current stage of the crisis.
For our greed-based system this is not a “crisis,” as we are already allowing horrific suffering. Aid organizations highlight that “people are not starving, they’re being starved,” while billions in idle cash sits in the bank accounts of the ultra-rich and giant corporations.
Today we mark Earth Day, like every April 22 since 1970. The Earth Day website proudly announced how one billion people have been “mobilized” and over 75,000 “partners” are “driving positive change.”
“Our world needs transformational change,” Earth Day organizers proclaim, yet after 50 years of activism amid ever increasing emissions, consumerism, and birth rates, it appears we have only moved backwards.
The world celebrates whenever another essentially meaningless climate treaty has been signed, patting politicians on the back for entering into agreements that will not, and cannot be enforced.
The voluntary nature of climate treaties reveals the suicidal trend that humanity is following. We “wish” to address the coming apocalypse, yet we just cannot dare disturb our economy or, God forbid, harm our multinational corporations who have become more powerful than nation states themselves.
We blame the UN, while ignoring its very limited powers and its highly problematic structure in which the world’s most powerful nuclear powers can veto any decision the rest of the world makes.
We blame our national body politic, while ignoring who has voted them in, and on whose opinion polls they base their policies.
We blame energy companies, agriculture, or mining for their emissions, yet we forget that our consumerism fuels the growing demand for the products these industries produce.
For me, the reason we are not truly addressing this issue is because it would highlight the self-destructive lie that has governed economic decision-making for the last half century. We live in a commodified society that appears to have all but abandoned the idea of “saving a life at all cost.”
Built on a lie
Our global economy is built on a fundamental myth to which we seem unable to admit, as it would discredit or even cast blame on every political “leader” who has ignored it for all this time.
We evaluate a country’s performance by measuring its GDP “growth,” as if Earth holds infinite resources and space for us to perpetually “grow.” We extract countless billions from the poor through their underpaid labor and celebrate those people so immoral as to hoard billions amid Earth’s well-documented poverty and hunger. They are actively enriching themselves off others’ misery.
We live in a world where democracy and government have become a farce, mere instruments in the hands of global capital. Global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank are there to punish any country who does not subscribe to the mantra of perpetual growth. Meanwhile, three for-profit national credit-rating agencies in the US hold the fate of nations in their hands.
These flawed institutions do not hold countries accountable for spending billions on unnecessary, and ultimately self-destructive, arms sales. Yet increased spending on healthcare or social security will see any country’s credit rating start to drop.
Real fundamental change
We live in a world ruled by multinationals, greedy billionaires, and arms-dealing nations that hold undemocratic veto powers in what seems to be the ironically named UN “Security Council.” How could we ever expect anything besides a steady profit-making march towards our collective doom?
The burning of fossil fuels started in the colonial era, while the injustices of that era to current-day “developing nations” are only set to be exacerbated by this imperial past.
The emergence of “climate colonialism” perpetuated by former colonial powers is only further evidence of our problematic past and how little we have changed in the post-colonial era.
As a political analyst I keenly observed the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic for signs of a possible new mentality of global solidarity and de-politicized action to save lives.
Those signs have not appeared. Instead, the current reality only further highlights our petty global divisions that could lead us all to our collective doom, driven there by greed, nationalist delusions, and wishful thinking.
Short-sighted greed in particular appears to drive climate change, leading to good ideas being neglected or opposed out of fear they might harm quarterly profits. The many offered climate measures, like the US and EU versions of a “Green New Deal,” would actually be beneficial within a perpetual-growth-oriented economic system.
These plans are often tailored to not offend the status quo and fit neatly within the overton window. This results in plans that are not nearly as radical as a pending end to the planet’s ability to host human life would require. Yet, they fit neatly into our warped zeitgeist.
A salient fact to add to this is that not combating climate change could cost the global economy an estimated $1.9 trillion annually.
If during a pandemic we value corporate profits over saving millions of lives and allow a few dozen billionaires to continue hoarding our Earth’s wealth, how could we ever change our system enough to stop, or even slow, climate change?
If the world’s richest countries cannot, amid a global crisis, lift patents on vaccines to ensure every human is vaccinated as soon as possible, what chance do we have of genuine economic reform?
Solving the crisis
For some the solution to climate change is inherently personal. For them it revolves around recycling, eating less meat, or avoiding high-carbon travel.
For others the solution is a purely political one. They see the solution driven by ambitious climate treaties, lofty carbon emission targets, and leaders with vision.
Another perspective is that the solution lies in addressing our economic system that is rapidly draining our earth of its resources for the benefit of a select few. With 100 companies responsible for 90% of all global emissions, economic reform and strong regulations could alleviate some of the worst consequences of climate change.
For me, the solution would include all of the above, but most of all would resolve around finally treating this as the real and growing crisis it is.
As long as we feel that this crisis is being addressed, we continue our self delusion as the sword of damocles swings ever closer. There is not one national politician on Earth today that is treating this crisis as the coming apocalypse that it is.
Minimizing Earth’s climate crisis requires us to value our children and grandchildren as we value ourselves. For future generations we must act drastically right now. For current generations born into less privilege, we must act drastically right now.
That change will even serve the rich, the comfortable, and those in power, the people who have deluded themselves the most about the fact that a growth-oriented, fossil fuel-driven economy is causing emissions that will make our planet uninhabitable.
For me, the solution lies around not having children, which drastically reduces my carbon footprint, and trying to ring the alarm as so many others have tried.
Solving this crisis requires an immense awakening of courage and solidarity. If the pandemic is anything to go by, then we are utterly doomed.
Still, humans are strange creatures that always have the tendency to surprise you when you least expect it.