The Moral Crisis of our Time

The politically correct term for the havoc we are causing to weather conditions is Climate Change. Climate Change is in fact global warming.

It is the rise in temperature that, for example, is melting the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps. The rise in temperatures is being caused by greenhouse gas emissions that trap the heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the principle greenhouse gas. CO2 emissions are also being absorbed by the seas and oceans and this is causing acidification that is one of the reasons why coral reefs are dying. This is having an impact on fish populations as coral reefs act as nurseries in the oceans. As if massive overfishing and pollution were not doing enough damage. Everything on Earth is interconnected.

The solution to global warming is not carbon capture by the petrochemical industry, but dramatically reducing the use of fossil fuels and safeguarding forests and reforestation. Forests absorb CO2 at no cost to us and will continue to do this for all future generations. The petrochemical industry caused the problem in the first place by ensuring that we depend on fossil fuels for our energy needs and plastics. They are not to be trusted.

The planetary eco systems make up the web of life (the biosphere). We, are part of the web of life and cannot live outside of it. Plainly speaking this means that we all would die if, rather than supportive, the biosphere became lethal. Surprisingly too many people are in denial and have some difficulty accepting this reality.

Greedy and ignorant humanity has been trashing the Earth for centuries. We have thrown the web of life out of balance. This is presently causing a catastrophic melt down in nature. We have arrived at the point of reckoning as the web of life is turning into a web of death.

We should not look at politicians to solve this problem for the simple reason that that is clearly not why we elect them. Each election is an auction for votes. Beyond attempting to provide the mandatory essentials for society, the electoral campaigns play on people’s greed and insatiable desires. It is the latter that gets political parties elected and not the spending on healthcare or education – this is at least true in Malta.

Democracy allows people some freedom. Freedom does not however give any one of us the liberty to do whatever we want irrespective of the consequences. Freedom brings with it the duty to act responsibly towards other people, towards the Earth, towards other species. We are all responsible to future generations.

Moreover Governments have a responsibility that overrides their electoral promises – that is the duty of care. The duty of care means acting to safeguard the wellbeing of people and anticipating risks to their wellbeing.

How can we possibly expect to be living in a healthy and clean environment when we vote in MPs and MEPs who do not walk the talk when it comes to environmental issues? We are reaping what we have sown – global warming, sound and light pollution, air pollution, dying oceans and seas, massive deforestation, a global plastic trash epidemic, the planetary eco-systems in free fall, the ongoing extinction of species and wild habitats. All entirely caused by humans.

All peoples should look closely at what is happening in their own country and realise that the environmental degradation is being encouraged by local Government, not supranational agencies. It is therefore unacceptable for any Government of any country to say that “solutions can only be achieved at a global and not a national level”. If Governments had no problem allowing the destruction of nature, then they should have no problem fixing it.  Instead what we get is excuses and token gestures that politicians hope will get them through the next electoral contest.

We have at our disposal numerous, comprehensive, reliable and robust studies prepared by top scientists across all disciplines that show us the dire state that life on Earth is in and plainly stating the actions we need to take. The political action so far speaks for itself. Too little too late.

Harrison Ford, vice Chairman of global eNGO Conservation International, did not pull punches at the Global Climate Summit in California last September when he said “Elect leaders who believe in science and understand the importance of protecting nature. Stop, for God’s sake, the denigration of science, stop giving power to people who do not believe in science, or worse than that, pretend they do not believe in science for their own self-interest. They know who they are. We know who they are.”

“We will all suffer the effects of climate change and eco-system destruction and we are facing what is quickly becoming the greatest moral crisis of our time. That those least responsible will bear the greatest cost.”

“If we are to survive on this planet, the only home any of us will ever know, for our climate, for our security, for our future, we need nature, now more than ever. Because nature does not need people. People need nature.”

We have a very peculiar relationship with our environment. Nature keeps us alive. We buy our children toys shaped as animals. We read stories to them of enchanted forests and magical marine life. We take them to petting farms. When on holiday, we seek out oceans, lakes, mountains, treks along rivers and country paths. We love swimming in the sea and being in the sun. We love whales and dolphins, elephants and giraffes, swans and eagles. In other words, in our quality time we strive to be in nature. In nature we find kinship and peace of mind. So why the hell are we destroying it all.

In Malta we used to wake up to the sound of birds. Now we wake up to the drone of traffic, the sound of hunters’ gunshots, the din of construction and the thunderous sound of aircraft as we blindly follow the pied piper to a cosmopolitan hellhole.

I am writing this article because I care about nature. You are reading it because you care.  There are many people across countries and cultures who also care and are taking action, and thankfully, have been doing so for decades. All these people, all of us, must not and cannot give up if we are to save nature and save ourselves. More people must join this movement.

Your belief and governance systems have failed you. Open your eyes and see the extermination of nature and the massacre of wildlife across the planet and in your country.

We have brought this upon ourselves. It is time to reengineer our moral compass. This means taking responsibility and facing up to our moral crisis.  Politics, technology or the economy are not the objective. Health, happiness and the avoidance of suffering are the objective. It’s about optimising the symbiotic relationship between humanity, other species and the biosphere. Only by understanding who and why we are will humanity find peace. This we can achieve by mending our relationship with the Earth and all the lifeforms that call it home.

Article published in the Sunday Times of Malta, 18th November 2018