It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life undeformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not inescapably within and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down.
Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 3). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.
The biggest moral issue of our age is climate change. Those using a geological model for cosmology call it the “Anthropocene” meaning that the planet Earth is being shaped by human activity.
For all of human history, human beings have seen climate as a “force of nature” or as is written into our insurance policies “an act of God.” We have been in denial with our extraction technologies to enrich ourselves at Mother Nature’s expense and our naive practice of throwing “away” our garbage and the unwanted remains of utilization processes without being aware that there really is no “away.”
We human beings are coming to realize due to the consequences of our own actions that we are fouling our own nest. We are coming to realize that we have been arrogant, prideful, exploitative, and disrespectful of the interdependent web of existence which has given us life and sustains us here. We have taken the interdependent web for granted and lived with a grandiose sense of entitlement and Mother Nature has been very kind and supportive of our childish behavior until now when we have gone too far.
Mother Nature is telling us we need to grow up and take responsibility. We can’t just suckle at her breast forever. It is time for us to be responsible for ourselves and to treat her with gratitude, respect, and cooperation which she deserves. How long, after all, can we continue to take advantage?
The greatest moral issue of our age is stewardship and humble cooperation with the interdependent web. No faith tradition states this responsibility more clearly and visibly than the Unitarian Universalists who, in their seventh principle, covenant together to affirm and promote a respect for the interdependent web of which we are a part.
The question is: “How do we affirm and promote this respect for the interdependent web?” How are we doing? If we were to grade our performance what grade would we get?
To be continued.