Responding to Climate Change

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Responding to the Threat of Overwhelming Climate Change


Greetings to Friends Everywhere: The Trustees of Quaker Institute for the Future are moved to share with Friends our concerns about the urgent need to respond to planetary climate change. The world has gone from climate change to climate crisis to climate emergency. The time in which nations and citizens of the world can yet act to mitigate the worst effects of climate change is rapidly vanishing. In the spirit of Quaker tradition, we have prepared this epistle in the hope that it may inspire Friends in solidarity with truth seeking and in their discernment on witness and action.

In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported a window of only twelve years for the nations of the world to make dramatic cuts in the burning of fossil fuels to prevent climate change from becoming catastrophic. However, the International Energy Agency reported that greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 and 2023 are certain to rise to the highest levels ever recorded.

We are all witness to the record temperatures causing persistent and lethal heat waves; prolonged droughts; water reservoirs at a fraction of their capacity; crop failures; regional food system collapse; melting icecaps; increasing ocean temperatures; rising sea levels; dying coral reefs; massively destructive forest fires; an unprecedented increase in flash floods; increasingly destructive storms sweeping over human settlements; all leading to a perilous increase in refugees, poverty and social violence.

All areas of human relationship are imperiled by the continuing deterioration of Earth’s habitability. Human settlements, livelihoods, and food and water provisioning are increasingly disrupted. Health disorders, especially from stress and trauma, are already on the increase. Ethnic, racial, political, and economic violence, displacement and migration mean cruel hardships that trigger even more of the same.

Nevertheless, the nations of the world and their citizens are failing to act with appropriate measures. What needs be done to prevent the worsening consequences of climate change is not being done. This is the crux of the matter. At this point, effective intervention depends on action by governments with the support of engaged citizens doing everything possible at a personal and civic level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The required speed and level of active collaboration are now being compared to the response during World War II, when, virtually overnight, the U.S., Canada, and other countries repurposed their economies. 

Fortunately, young people of the world are not slow to comprehend the reality of catastrophic climate change. Students in the villages, towns, and cities of the world have joined in climate action strikes – “Fridays for the Future.” Young people are distinctly aware they are inheriting a climate catastrophe.

As nations begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a great push to “reopen the economy” and “get back to normal.” But there is no “normal” to return to. We are on the other side of a changing climate. Can catastrophic change be averted? If not, what are the consequences? What can we do? To firnd a list of possibilities, go to our webstie: quakerinstitute.org

– Judy Lumb, Quaker Institute for the Future

 

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