COP 27 Taking action, fear-mongering and wishful thinking.

COP 27 Taking action, fear-mongering and wishful thinking.
  • Global Mindedness
James Hatch

As I write this blog, COP-27, the UN’s UN Climate Change Conference, is happening in Cairo, Egypt. The conference sits against a backdrop of global challenges such as rising food insecurity, especially in the Horn of Africa, ongoing military conflicts, and rapidly rising inflation. Indeed herein lies the problem, as mainstream news outlets increasingly push negative news into our homes and minds, losing hope and living in fear are rising issues for young and old alike. As someone who has lived through my fair share of such events, I know that such challenges have occurred in the past, and despite the doomsayers, we remain as a species.

The environment requires protection for us and all life that depends on our tiny, blue marble for survival. We have and are taking steps, and while we could do more, we must balance the short-term and long-term needs. Innovation, education, and collectively working together will play a vital role in achieving this balance. For example, while some may view technology such as smartphones as absorbing considerable resources, there is another way to view them. For example, how many resources such as paper for maps, decreased fuel use as people find their way to places more efficiently, and metals that once went into radios and TVs are now “saved” by the simple phone.

Human ingenuity is always finding a new way to work with finite resources. If nothing more than our base ‘will to live’, this ingenuity is one of our defining characteristics.

However, to rely on ingenuity and ignore the active role we can take in curbing excess and purposeless environmental damage is to abrogate another defining quality: moral and ethical awareness. There is clear evidence that the environment is under strain and that we can do something about this.

While many leaders waffle, others are genuinely caught between a rock and a hard place. Their people look to them for greater safety and well-being while simultaneously experiencing the impact of environmental degradation. Balancing the two objectives requires work and commitment, which requires collective work and dedication. As a global community, let’s move from national self-interest to a more global perspective. Those countries already at high levels of development can reduce their expectations so that others may survive and thrive.

After all, do I need ten pairs of shoes and fifteen different sweatshirts?

Indeed the evidence is reasonably straightforward: As societies develop economically and socially, there is a one-generation spike in population numbers. However, after this initial surge, the population begins a steady decline until a new equilibrium is established. We know that educating and developing people is expensive and resource-consuming in the short run, but in the long run, it may reap other rewards for the planet and all life on it. 

Having such a broad global understanding of issues is only sometimes possible in national education systems, which often place national self-interest above those of the planet. However, a globally aware and interculturally competent education may be an antidote - what do you think?

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