Climate of Betrayal

Betrayal

We have just experienced the warmest first nine months of any year for combined land and ocean temperatures since record keeping began in 1880, and we are living in what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record for combined land and ocean temperatures. In September 2014, ocean temperatures were at the highest departure from average than at any time for any month since record keeping began in 1880 (1.). February 1985 was the last month in which we experienced a colder than average month globally. The greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide and methane that contribute most to this warming continue to be on the rise, with methane showing a pronounced spike since 2007 (2.). Currently 258 billions tons of land ice are lost annually, and every major climate indicator points to continued warming unless there is a significant shift in how human beings produce and use energy (3.). The consensus among climate scientists across the globe is that climate change is real, it is now, and if we do not act with great urgency and effectiveness, climate change will bring catastrophic consequences for human civilization and all life on earth.

With evidence like this, one would think that we would be experiencing a sense of unmatched urgency to stabilize the climate through the most massive shift in energy use and energy production seen in the history of humankind for the sake of all generations of humans and all life to come. Instead, we have witnessed a systematic and well-funded digging in of the heels of the fossil fuel industry led oligarchy who still have trillions of dollars to make on the exploitation of fossil fuels at the expense of future generations. Here in the United States, we just experienced our mid-term elections, and with low voter turnout and nearly 4 billion dollars of money spent on the election process (a record for midterm elections), we have elected a Congress who is firmly committed to furthering the goals of the fossil fuel industry while minimizing the reality of climate change. It is very likely that the greatest climate change denier in the history of the U.S. Senate, Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Inhofe, will once again chair the Environment and Public Works Committee, virtually ensuring that no positive legislation concerning climate change will take place. The United States and Canada collectively have our heads in the sand (or heads in the oil sands) while the planet is facing its greatest threat since the beginning of human existence.

We have moved beyond the point of climate change denial to a climate of betrayal of future generations for the sake of current comfort and greed. With the evidence for climate change so overwhelming and the urgency for action so obvious, we must begin to ask ourselves if our generation is growing ever more guilty of the premeditated murder of billions of human and non-human lives. Such a claim will surely be ridiculed by the fossil fuel industry in the name of energy independence and economic development, but the climate science and the facts of climate change and its consequences will judge us otherwise. Make no mistake, no matter how slowly the consequences unfold, we are committing an act of great collective violence with our inaction in the face of climate change. Much like the human actions of the past that have led to the destruction of so many human lives, we cannot use the excuse that “we did not know.” We know, and we have chosen a climate of betrayal of the future. We are the last generation with the opportunity to make a significant impact on climate change. Up until now, we have exhibited a massive collective moral failure characterized by a glaring lack of empathy for each other and generations to come. One has to wonder what it will take for us to care enough about each other and the rest of life to change the way we live our lives. Our generation is pulling the trigger on the climate change gun while billions of persons of current and future generations have their hands up pleading for us not to shoot.

1. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/9

2. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6170/493.figures-only

3. http://climate.nasa.gov/

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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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One Response to Climate of Betrayal

  1. Terry M Gresham says:

    Reblogged this on okieprogressive.

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