While I am not of Buddhist faith, I was recently sent an email from a friend in the Buddhist community encouraging me to dial into the Mindfulness and Climate Action conversations hosted and arranged by One Earth Sangha. Ever curious, I started by looking at their website, which directed me to a background paper on the topic. It was extremely well drafted by Lou Leonard, Vice President of Climate Change at the World Wildlife Fund and Kritee (Kanko) a Senior Scientist for the International Climate program at Environmental Defense Fund, referencing evidence and findings of world-renowned scientific institutions.
The numbers geek in me kept going deeper and deeper into the source references of the paper leading me to the conclusion that as they say “this may be the most important decade in human history”. As confirmed by the numbers in the research, without significant and immediate reductions in current levels of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) caused by the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) and the destruction of forests, released into the atmosphere, the environment as we know it today and on which our whole society and economic survival has been developed and structured, may completely self-destruct.
I’m not sure I can recall, at least in recent memory, a body of evidence so compelling and in plain view that I did not know existed at this order of magnitude, and with such likely negative implication for the world at large. I am still asking myself how it could be possible that I and most people I know have more or less overlooked the potential radical changes to the world as we know it within a generation, if human induced climate change is not addressed with an immediate and acute sense of urgency. In my view, addressing the root of climate change is first and foremost before we can even think about other philanthropic missions. The protection and stabilization of our environment, together with current day society, is the basis on which all other philanthropic missions, such as healthcare, education, housing and humanitarianism, can be embarked upon.
Perhaps the rational logic to why we seem to be in denial of such overwhelming evidence may be a fear so great that we simply feel the challenge is too big for us to overcome, and we just shut down entirely or cannot stay the course. I applaud the action of One Earth Sangha to bring climate change to the forefront of our awareness. As they so brilliantly observe, “by increasing our awareness of our emotional response to climate change, we can become more resilient and engage more consistently. These energies can be transformed into confidence, clarity and action.”
As we all have observed, recent climate change includes such phenomena as global warming, sea-level rise, increased drought and change in storm and precipitation patterns. Stay tuned as I dig into the scientific data and potential consequences of climate change. We don’t have much time to mitigate current levels of human contribution to planetary greenhouse gases before we all must pay the consequences, least of which are economic.