Peace, Justice, and Climate Change

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Over the past ten thousand years, we have been fortunate to enjoy a relatively stable climate that has contributed to the growth and stability of human civilization. In the midst of this stable climate, humans have still found innumerable ways to be violent with each other, to be unjust to one another, and to harm the natural environment. Imagine how much worse the violence, injustice, and harm to the planet will be in a world with a much less stable climate, in a world where the climate is no longer so hospitable to human life and civilization.

If we want to create more peace in the world, we cannot ignore climate change, for climate change will exacerbate the factors that lead people and countries into conflict. Climate change will fan the flames of war and violence as countries enter into more and more conflicts over water and resources for survival. Climate change will contribute to famine, disease, and disasters that will create a much more brutal and violent world as billions of persons struggle against one another for the means of survival. There will be no lasting peace without a stable climate.

Many climate change deniers argue that our economy cannot afford to make the changes that are called for to address climate change. They argue that moving away from fossil fuels will damage our economy, create more poverty, and harm the poorest of the poor who will no longer be lifted up by the global fossil fuel driven economy. But the reality is that there can be no lasting economic progress without addressing climate change. An economy can only be sustainable over the long run if there is a stable and sustainable ecological community in which the economy can flourish. Climate change is damaging the stable ecological community that is needed for economic flourishing. This will increase poverty and human suffering and will create even larger gaps between the rich and the poor in the world, leading to even greater injustice. There can be no lasting justice in the world without a stable climate.

If we want fewer wars and less violence, if we want economic flourishing in the human community, and if we want a world in which more rather than fewer people can participate in this flourishing; then we must care about climate change. There can be no lasting peace, no lasting economic progress, and no lasting justice without a stable climate. If we care about creating peace, reducing poverty, and sustaining planet earth; we must take the necessary systemic steps to address and arrest climate change.

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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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