Climate change is the continuing crisis the world is experiencing since its discovery in the early 19th century, but any global discussion at this time has to start with COVID-19. These are the two existential crises humanity faces today and the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November cannot be put to the side as countries come to grips to manage the pandemic.
2020 is one of the hottest three years on record and ocean heat content is at rising record levels as well, as there is no let-up, no reduction in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
In 2020 alone, fires were experienced in Australia, the Arctic, Spain, and California. Continued extreme weather events throughout Asia were reported in the World Disasters Report 2020. There was severe drought in South America, water scarcity in India, increased vulnerability of Small Island States to sea level rise, and major locust invasions in Africa, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization describing the situation as a desert locust crisis.
All of these regional crises, often viewed as temporary, demand urgent, comprehensive, and lasting local-to-global action. These crises continue to circle, undermining human resilience and the national capacity to act.
And while the virus rages throughout the world, crushing already vulnerable and impoverished migrants, rural and urban populations in the South and the North, inadequate action persists given the chronic social reality. Beyond vaccine availability and access, many still do not have water to wash their hands, food to nourish a family, shelter or the transport to practice social distancing.
But this is also the time to talk more about the climate than the virus and take action. The world cannot continue to sleepwalk through the broader needs of the world, as the world we will wake up to is not going to be a better place and healed of its ills unless action is comprehensive. Responding to one problem at a time is not going to change the present situation of bad to worse. Consolidated and complementing approaches are needed.
The global economy does need to grow, but all the more it needs to be shared. The economy needs to be understood as a household where everyone participates, and the majority are not left with crumbs on the floor.
Sharing in this economy needs to include all so that this economy is sustained, and this includes the excluded ecology, the sister in the oikos who is written off, locked out, and needing full recognition and restitution. Ecological services need to be accounted for and the payback for decades of destruction and waste needs radical rectification.
Without this justice, there is no balance achieved before many lands become unproductive and the bounties of the seas are lost.
How global does this socio-ecological crisis have to be to bring us to our knees in the Wall Streets of this world, in our Churches and meeting halls, State Institutions and global sleepwalking negotiations? Climate negotiations have been sitting in the corner for five years as a white elephant. Read more…