The two weeks of climate discussions at the COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, ended in disappointment. As CNN wrote, “The world has failed to reach an agreement to phase out fossil fuels … an attempt to address the biggest source of the planet warming emissions that are causing the climate crisis ended in a fiasco after a number of nations, including China and Saudi Arabia, blocked a key proposal to phase out all fossil fuels, not just coal.” While the members reached an agreement “to set up a ‘loss and damage’ fund meant to help vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters,” it will not reverse climate change or solve our major problems.
We may be able to assist with local climate crises, but we cannot change the global climate with our current attitude. If we want to change the climate, we must change it on all levels, and first and foremost the social climate we have created. As long as it is negative, aggressive, and heating up, the global climate will reflect it.
The reason we hold global climate conferences is that the climate is a global issue. Everything we do, in any country, affects the global climate. Therefore, without global mutual consideration, humanity will not be able to resolve the climate crisis.
Regrettably, to work in global mutual consideration, we must develop empathy toward all of humanity and rise above the narrow interests of each country. We are nowhere near such an attitude. On the contrary, each country tries to impose decisions that serve its own interests on the rest of the world, and the result is a climate world war where everyone loses.
As is the case with every war, the rich and powerful countries set the tone. They continue to burn fuels that pollute the air and accelerate climate change, and nothing will stop them unless natural disasters become so extreme that they will force all of humanity to change. In the meantime, as lip service, or perhaps to buy the world’s consent, they set up “loss and damage” funds to “repair” the damage. Such funds do not solve anything, and everyone realizes this.
Besides extreme weather and climate disasters, the climate crisis has another adverse impact: Icebergs that have been frozen for thousands of years, and often far longer, are thawing. And buried in the ice are countless viruses that have been reawakened, and for which our bodies have no immunity. Scientists are already warning that the next pandemic may actually come not from wild animals or human errors, but from melting icebergs. A paper published two years ago aptly named it the “permafrost pandemic,” and warned of “the risk that deadly diseases from the distant past may return.”
Indeed, if you look at all the crises plaguing the world today, you will find that none of them are local. Covid is a global issue, climate change is affecting the entire planet, rising energy prices and interrupted supply chains are affecting all of humanity, and even a local crisis such as the war in Ukraine has serious consequences for the entire world. The interdependence already affecting all of humanity will only intensify until we are unable to make a single movement, to take a breath, without affecting the entire world.
On the positive side, none of our problems are insurmountable. In every single crisis, if we only work together rather than against each other, it will disappear as though it never existed.
All that is needed in order to fix our every plight is to change our attitude and put humanity first. Since reality is global, so should be our order of priorities. Prioritizing humanity will not only help the entire world, but every single individual, precisely because we are irrevocably interdependent. If we continue to impose a narrow vision on an expansive reality, we will continue to collide with one another and with all of nature. If we change our attitude, we will change the climate, and we will change the world.
Ministers deliver statements during the closing plenary at the COP27 climate summit in Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 20, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany