News from December 13, 2019
Schoolgirl Greta Tunberg, who has become the leader of the youth movement against climate change, demands that the planet be preserved for future generations.
Today, Madrid concludes the meeting of the parties to the United Nations Climate Convention. What will cause its outcome: a sigh of relief or frustration? Have decision makers heard the voices of scientists, business leaders, young people, those already suffering from global warming? Why is it so hard to reach out to politicians? These questions are raised by UNESCO in one of the issues of the UNESCO Courier.
Today, humanity consumes more than it can afford. Year after year, it waste natural resources that the planet cannot recover. Excessive consumption directly affects the climate: we not only release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, but also destroy the nature that helps absorb them: forests and oceans. Instead of holding the temperature rise, we are persistently on track to raise it to catastrophic levels. This is what the Anthropocene era looks like.
Belgian philosopher and biologist Bernard Feltz, reflecting on the complex relationship between man and nature, science and politics, concludes: “The onset of the Anthropocene is largely due to the unprecedented development of new technologies and their uncontrolled use by economic powers: man-made activities for the first time lead to environmental changes affecting all mankind”
At the same time, he said, it is science that allows you to assess the extent of environmental problems and propose “reasonable methods to overcome the climate crisis.” And today science has fulfilled its role: the causes, scale and consequences of climate change are clear, and there are technologies for switching to a green economy and clean energy. And if the world were ruled by scientists…
“But democracy and technocracy are not the same thing at all. In democracy, politicians make decisions, “Bernard Feltz recalls.” At the same time, climate change involves a technical analysis of extreme complexity, and the results of this analysis do not always coincide with the priorities of politicians “.
Do so that the consequences of your actions do not jeopardize the continuity of human existence on Earth
However, the scientist acknowledges, “modern society is inexorably approaching the day when we will be forced to build our lives in full compliance with environmental requirements.” Apparently, this day has already come “The future of humanity is at stake,” says Bernard Feltz. “Understanding that uncontrolled climate change can make the planet poor, if not unworkable, forces us to act.” Everyone from every person to the largest transnational corporations, from trade unions to state bodies and to non-governmental organizations should act.
But for now, warns Catriona McKinnon, a UK-based political science professor, a host of political leaders and corporate executives pretend that nothing is happening, and thus bringing climate disaster closer.
“It doesn ‘t matter whether they harm the environment themselves or simply ignore the fact that humanity ‘s future is at risk, but states and companies must be held accountable for their actions – or inaction…,” writes Catriona McKinno
Explaining society ‘s current attitude towards climate change, she uses a convincing metaphor: “There is a fire in the theater, from which it is impossible to leave. If the fire is not extinguished, many will die or be injured, primarily those who have got the cheapest seats. Some already smell gary, others haven ‘t noticed anything yet. Some of the audience is trying to warn the others to stop the fire until the situation is out of control. Others – mostly those sitting in the most expensive places – shout loudly that there is no fire, and if there is, small, and with its extinguishing you can not hurry. “
The behaviour of a person who realizes that his actions can lead to an unacceptable threat to the lives of others, but continues to act, is irresponsible.
“The behavior of a person who realizes that his actions can lead to an unacceptable threat to the lives of others, but continues to act, is irresponsible,” McKinnon states and proposes a name for such a crime: “postericide.” This term refers to “intentional or irresponsible acts that put mankind at risk of extinction” and believes that this new type of crime should be subject to international criminal jurisdiction. And, according to the British political scientist, the perpetrators should be considered not only those who directly commit actions threatening the future of mankind, but also those who condone them: “Just as in international criminal law military commanders are held accountable for acts of genocide committed by their troops, political and economic leaders should be held accountable for the postericide committed under their leadership.”
It is not known whether the British professor ‘s demand to prosecute politicians and oligarchs will find support, but Bernard Feltz recalls the principle of responsibility formulated in the late 1970s by German philosopher Hans Jonas: “Do so that the consequences of your actions do not jeopardize the continuity of human existence on Earth.”
This is the responsibility to future generations and was demanded of politicians by Greta Tunberg in her speech to the Climate Summit in New York. Do you remember?
‘You say you hear us and you realise you can ‘t slow down. But no matter how desperate I feel, I don ‘t want to believe it. Because if you really understand everything and do nothing, you are the embodiment of evil, and I refuse to believe it. You betray us, and young people are beginning to understand this. All future generations are looking at you. And if you betray us, we will never forgive you. “
Bernard Feltz concludes that today “we have to develop a new model of public life focused on ensuring the sustainability of the system in the longest possible term and on fostering a sense of responsibility in future generations” . So far it seems that the younger generation have this sense of responsibility much more acute than their parent
Swedish environmental activist Greta Tunberg, who pioneered a broad youth movement to save the land ‘s climate Fridays For Future, delivered an angry speech at the UN climate summit in New York. She accused older generations of failing to make decisions to prevent a global climate catastrophe. “We stand on the threshold of mass death, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales and eternal economic growth,” Tunberg, 16, said.