A better world? Or a survivable one?

By Steve Austin

Again, in the face of ever more dire climate news, a leading world figure is using his platform to spur humanity to fight climate change as it can lead to a better world.

From The Guardian:  Felipe Calderón, former president of Mexico, called on political leaders to take note: “We can turn better [economic] growth and a better climate into reality. It is time we decisively legislate, innovate, govern and invest our way to a fairer, safer, more sustainable world.”

While I fervently hope that we can achieve a better world in the coming decades, I think that this spirit is misguided.  Fighting climate change should be about ensuring the near term survivability of hundreds of millions of individual humans and preventing the destruction of modern civilizational systems.

If the fight is made about a “fairer, safer, more sustainable world” do we risk alienating a large segment of people in the Western nations that are the leading contributors to climate change?  These sound like political or lifestyle choices.  And if the fight against climate change is seen as that, then will many, perhaps even a majority, in Western democracies tune out?  Will they “choose” not to participate or to put forth their own versions of the politics and lifestyle choices leading to a future they deem appropriate?

Fighting climate change is about ending the burning of fossil fuels as soon as possible, and at the same time using soils and plants to draw down excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Collectively,  we must be working exclusively on that as it will be our best bet for survivability in the 21st century.  Ultimately I guess this is a moral issue:  should we work to end climate change even if it doesn’t result in a “fairer, safer, more sustainable world?” To me the answer is yes.  For if we do not end climate change now, the ruins that we will inhabit might forever preclude a chance to create a “fairer, safer, more sustainable world.”

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