The flawed war on climate change


We’re all for putting a cap on CO2 emissions, the use of renewable energy and the adoption of green technologies. But we often wonder: is the war on climate change just a question of greenhouse gases (GHG)? By focusing too much on the mechanics of global warming and playing the scientific Whodunnit game, is the world failing to see the very root of the problem?

The message that Typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Typhoon Yolanda) drove home last November was not the awesome power of nature – which was evident from the enhanced infrared satellite loop of the storm produced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Rather, it is the fact that modern man continues to belittle that power. Another natural calamity, of course, will come along to remind him that he is a puny, powerless creature.

Typhoon Haiyan’s murderous path across central Philippines

Unlike the ancients, who feared and even worshiped the trees, lakes and mountains, modern man regards himself as king. The land and the ocean are his dominion, to be tamed and subjugated. In the process, he has lost that which could at least rein in the greed and the unbridled exploitation of the earth’s resources: reverence for Mother Nature.

If one accepts that as a valid point, then it should become clear that the war on climate change cannot be left to politicians, scientists and environmental activists. Religious and spiritual leaders, philosophers, literary writers, artists, musicians and others who can see beyond scientific and economic facts must all get on board. This is a protracted war in need of a new strategy, a new front. ~Barista Uno


Please feel free to comment on this article. You may also like:

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3 Replies to “The flawed war on climate change”

  1. Reid Sprague

    Dear Barista,

    A powerful point, and right at the heart of the problem! Without a ‘reason’, a compelling storyline, humans will almost invariably act in their own (very) short-term interest.

    It’s so even when we can see that someone else is being hurt by our decisions – in that case, even a fairly conscientious person will often grant the thought a sigh, and then go on to think of more immediate concerns. First world citizens have become adept at this, but the growing middle classes of India and China have shown that they can skin that cat, too.

    Even my comment on your post is such a sigh, in a way – I’m saying ‘it’s human nature’ as if there is nothing we can do about it. C’est la guerre! Nothing to do with me. . .

    “Denial” by Ajit Varki & Danny Brower is an interesting analysis of the topic from an evolutionary point of view. Denial is on one hand a crucial skill, built into our genes, that allowed us to rise above the knowledge of our own mortality. But the other edge of that sword can do us much harm.

    However, Varki goes on to say that it’s not a lost cause – there are things we can do about that aspect of our nature once we recognize it. And what you’ve pointed out is part of it.

    People do base daily decisions partly on beliefs and narratives, and the narrative of climate change – of taking care of our only ‘house’ in space for the benefit of all its residents – needs such a storyline. Enough complacent sighs!

    Thanks, Barista, for another uncomfortable, truth-telling post. I’m circulating this one far and wide!

    And examining my own life afresh, as there’s plenty of room for improvement there.

    • Barista Uno

      What an eloquent response to our little article. Thank you, Reid.

      Speaking of narratives, the story of climate change is really about man’s overweening pride and overestimation of his own abilities and powers. The ancient Greeks called it hubris. Let us hope that the story does not end as in the Greek tragedies.

  2. Reid Sprague

    Dear Barista,

    You’re right – that is the competing narrative, and a dangerous one. Does it give you the fantods to read some of the schemes to “correct” global warming? Can you say, “hoist by his own petard”? All too easy to picture.

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