I have been wondering about the evolution of the greening of our collective consciousness. I am no expert but there are some politically significant signposts that I believe have helped define our collective direction and delineate our sense of the shared consequences. I wonder how we got to where we are and where in the world we are going. What it is we have to be doing now to respond to the issues of climate change?
My personal environmental awareness, such as it is, started in the early ‘60s with Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. I next recall the impact of the report of The Club of Rome on limits to growth. Then we had the mid 70’s oil crisis that showed how vulnerable we were on energy sustainability. The next time frame was a long hiatus of any significant actions, at least in my awareness, until the UN meetings in Rio de Janeiro and the breakthrough Kyoto Accord.
The developed world then went into a period of unprecedented wealth generation, including the “dot com bubble.” That diverted our attention into such an intense narcissism in the developed, mostly western world, not seen since the days when we believed in the “Divine Rights of Kings.” The result, in part, was some monumental corporate breaches of trust, with personal examples of hubris and excess that have filled court rooms, and added to prison populations, all over the world.
The galvanizing event, to my mind, that raised the collective consciousness of the reality of climate change, was Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it wrought on the people of New Orleans. There have been greater weather induced disasters, before and since. None of them have had the kind of 24 hour “carpet bombing” world-wide, news-cycle coverage of Katrina.
Now we have the release of the “Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: The Physical Science Basis.” It accumulates 6 more years of data and analysis from intensive research by hundreds of scientist from all over the planet. It states, as unequivocally as science will allow itself, that global warming is real and has increased markedly from pre-industrial days due mainly to human activity.
The post-industrial “flat-earthers” and climate change “deniers” are officially debunked. We now have the quintessential and incontrovertible wake up call for humanity. We have heard the catch up call too, especialy for all the politicians and corporate “masters of the universe types!”
We cannot afford the luxury of hitting the “snooze button” one more time on these issues. We can no longer afford to fall back to sleep, yet again. We have to wake up and get up to speed. We have come face to face with a day of reckoning on how we are impacting the health of the planet.
The next significant, and still on-going, political event is the phenomenon of Al Gore’s book and film“An Inconvenient Truth.” I have seen it and heard Al Gore’s presentation live last May. It is impressive but what I saw was basically a PowerPoint presentation. That is a good thing because it is making the issues, concerns and the consequences very accessible to everyday people. Gore shows that this stuff can no longer be ignored or dismissed as some complex rocket science that is beyond the grasp of the average citizen.
I would not be surprised in the least, if Al Gore, this “failed” Presidential candidate, actually won a Nobel Prize and an Oscar this year. It is entirely possible. Nobel’s are very prestigious but if Gore wins an Oscar, then that will make a huge difference. It will make climate change populist. It will become a top of mind concern for many more people. It will enable the changes needed in our personal habits and behaviours to reduce and adapt to global warming become reality.