As the world prepares for the 2021 Glasgow Climate Change Conference, more and more data indicate that human efforts, assuming there have been efforts, have been insufficient, at best. While world leaders spread declarations galore about curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, the reality is the opposite. The UN Production Gap Report tracks the discrepancy between governments’ planned fossil fuel production and actual global production levels. This year’s report reveals that “despite increased climate ambitions and net-zero commitments, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C [2.7°F].”
However, even if governments did intend to meet their commitments, it would not reverse climate change. If we compare the amount of greenhouse gases that humanity produces to the amount emitted by volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and the accelerated thawing of the permafrost in Alaska, Greenland, Canada and Siberia, it will be clear that nature is headed for a rapid climate change with or without our “help.”
Climate change is not the only crisis that humanity is facing. There are crises in every area of human engagement: International tensions are rising; religious extremism is increasing; racial and cultural tensions are dividing countries from within; and the global economy is teetering on the brink of stagflation. If this is not enough, the tenacious coronavirus is still disrupting lives and economic recovery the world over, supply chains are breaking, leading to shortages in gas, food, and other staples, and natural disasters are intensifying in frequency and ferocity due to climate change. Clearly, we need to stop focusing on specific problems, and start thinking more systemically.
Our world is built like a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is the mineral level, above it is the flora, above which is the fauna, and man stands at the top of the pyramid. We are not part of the animal kingdom because while our bodies are similar to that of other primates, our minds enable us to reflect on our past, our future, and make long-term plans for ourselves and for the planet.
However, despite our superior mind, we are not “above” the system; we are a part of it. As such, we affect all the levels below us. Therefore, any malfunction on the top, human level, “trickles down” to the entire pyramid and spoils the other levels, too.
Now it is easy to see that the problem lies squarely with humanity. Moreover, since the problems encompass every realm of human engagement, then clearly, curbing gas emissions will not solve anything. If we want to fix the world, we need to fix humanity.
When we examine humanity, each person has unique skills and traits. In themselves, these characteristics are not problems but advantages. The diversity of human thoughts, approaches, cultures, ideas, and beliefs creates a tapestry whose threads weave into a powerful entity that could, theoretically, achieve anything. Therefore, the problem is not in the people, but in how they connect with one another.
Currently, the threads in the tapestry of humanity are trying to tear each other up. Instead of strengthening, supporting, and emboldening each other, we are vying for supremacy and power.
Instead of working to make the fabric as strong and as beautiful as possible, we are trying to be the strongest thread in the sheet. Is it any wonder that we are exhausted? Is it any wonder that we are sickened by the endless struggles and ill-will that surround us? Is it any wonder that depression is the most common illness of our time? And finally, is it any wonder that our world, our only home, is ruined? Now, I think we know what we really need to focus on when we come to save our planet.
Four activists from Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University lock themselves to the Memorial Gate at the University of Glasgow on October 29, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.