The Make or Break Decade

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http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/

When it comes to addressing climate change (or any other moral problem for that matter), we need to want to do what we ought to do and then develop the means to actually do it. A major challenge we face right now is that the corporate influence on media, politics, and even the processes of education in our society makes it difficult for many persons to understand what we ought to do, much less how it is that we actually can do it. My hope is that most of us want to do the right thing, but we have to find ways to counter the influence of those who profit greatly from not doing the right thing and who want to keep the rest of us confused about what it is that we ought to do.

It is past time to recognize that the “debate” about climate change is not a scientific debate. It is a debate between those who accept the vast scientific evidence that climate change is real and is caused by human activities and those who promote or accept the vast misinformation campaign about climate change funded by the very corporations who have the most to gain from rejecting it. While this debate is occurring, inaction in relation to climate change threatens the well-being of all life on our planet.

We are living in a window of opportunity that is quickly closing in which we must make systemic shifts in our energy use and economic activity in order to mitigate the most severe consequences of climate change. If we as a society were truly awake to the reality of what human activity is doing to our global climate, the sense of urgency would be overwhelming. We should have had a sense urgency about climate change decades ago, but if we do not do something significant and systemic this decade, it is almost unbearable to think about the consequences. Many persons are aware of the reality and are making every effort to wake the rest of us up before it is too late. Efforts are often made to mock these persons or discredit them, but they are the prophets of our time. The window of opportunity available to us is so small that our sense of urgency must be expressed in the most effective and strategic actions possible in order to make the necessary systemic shift happen as quickly as possible for the sake of all life.

We must be realistic about what we are up against in relation to this the greatest moral challenge in the history of humankind. We are up against corporations that collectively have trillions of dollars to gain by the unabated exploitation of fossil fuels. The sums of money are so massive that the persons who control and support these corporations will do almost anything to make sure that their access to the fossil fuels remains unhindered. They will pour billions of dollars into political processes and into media in order to protect the trillions of dollars to be made on fossil fuels. Up to this point, the corporate leaders of the fossil fuel industry and their supporters have been quite effective in confusing the public and stifling the political will that is necessary for real systemic change. This is the stark reality that we are facing. We cannot be naïve about this. The will and the ability of the fossil fuel industry to obfuscate the debate are great. It will take even greater will, a sense of great urgency, and an effective movement of millions if not billions of persons globally to move towards the climate responsibility that is necessary. This is the most important work of our time. The very future of all life depends on what we do in the next decade to come. We must all find ways to be a part of this movement and make it is as effective as possible so that life may flourish in the years to come. It is the only way forward to a more just, peaceful, and sustainable future.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is The Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. From 2009 to 2015, Mark was dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences and Wimberly Professor of Social Ethics at Oklahoma City University. Previously, Mark was dean of the Wimberly School of Religion at Oklahoma City University and Founding Director of the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership. Prior to becoming dean of the Wimberly School of Religion in 2002, he was associate dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma City University and chair of the department of philosophy. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University.
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