Radical collaboration now can tackle climate change. We have a three year window of opportunity.
Sustaining a stable climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere- the thin envelope that surrounds our home planet and makes it habitable for human civilization- represents perhaps the greatest collective action problem of our time. Carbon dioxide emissions must be put on a permanent downward path by 2020 so that the thresholds to runaway irreversible climate change are not breached, warn expert authorities in this article from Nature. How do we prevent a tragedy of the climate commons?
Beyond mere pragmatics, this concerns our souls. Powerful and authoritative religious voices are urging climate action: Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Sii, the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, and statements from many other world religions. And there is a straightforward ethical question: will we be bystanders when business as usual threatens not only the poor and vulnerable, but the foundations of society and the conditions for life for many species? This is a preventable tragedy; are we participating in or preventing what our children may regard as the greatest crime against humanity and nature?
As emphasized by Mission2020 , radical collaboration now, with all hands on deck, can produce the needed downward shift in carbon emissions by 2020. We cannot rely solely on high-level leaders, although we must hold those who govern in our names to account. A polycentric approach with many connections- informal, formal, at different levels, and at different scales, has advantages. Its success depends in large part on people’s creativity and civic entrepreneurship. Now is the time to draw on our areas of expertise, and to communicate, interact, and devise changes in our carbon footprints where we can- in our investments, our consumption, our civic associations, our workplaces, our diets, our vehicles, our homes, and our houses of worship.