All for one, one for all
Why is climate change dominating the headlines like no other issue? Mid-way through the first week of the climate talks, my mind wandered back to last week’s climate change instalment of the Munk Debates, and I came upon the answer. Although science is foundation, it has escalated far beyond that.
The Munk Debates brought together an interesting cast of characters to answer the question: “is climate change the defining challenge of our time and does it demand a commensurate response?”
On the Pro side were
Dissatisfied by their titles, I came up with my own names for the four during the course of the debate:
George for the Good-Fight
Nigel the Naysayer
Bjorn the Big-Coal Court Jester
That’s because climate change is a unique
conundrum for human civilization. Never before has there been a problem where
our common fates were so intertwined on cause and effect. Climate change is the
first global manifestation of the maxim made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ novel Three
Musketeers: all for one, one for all. A destabilized climate will affect us
all (cutting the human population down by 80 per cent if you believe James
Lovelock pictured below), and it can only be avoided if we all join in the solution (if
the rich world moves, and the poor world doesn’t, we are still pooched).
The stakes are so high and the solution so
precariously dependent on collective action, that climate change arouses our
animal spirits like nothing else. This goes to the heart of the public’s
climate preoccupation, and is what inspires the passions of activists like
Bubbling below all the scientific charts and Al Gore PowerPoints, this planetary awakening foretells the uncorking of our collective moral consciousness. The prospect of which is highly destabilizing, and terrifies defenders of the status quo. And that’s the real reason why climate change is making the temperatures go up in more ways than one.