Everything is Coming Together, As It All Falls Apart
If I had a theme for 2015, it would be movement building. 2015 was the year the Pope put climate front and center in his Encyclical, Laudato Si. Then he took his show on the road in America; visiting first the White House and then Congress.
“Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.”
2015 was the year we saw 12 Republican Members of Congress break ranks and call for action on climate change.
I mentored at the Climate Reality Leadership training in Miami in September. This was one of several trainings that the Climate Reality Project hosted in 2015. Over 1200 people from 86 countries came together to create a united force for people working to create the paradigm shift we need for a sustainable future.
The Canadian election in October shifted the course of that country’s climate change policy for the better.
In December, the Paris Accord at the UNFCCC COP21 was signed by representatives from 195 countries with a target to limit temperature rise to 1.5˚C. This came with no plan how to get to the target, but it was largely touted as a success for this inclusion.
A pretty good year, if we don’t take into account the climate disruption that is coming on much faster than originally predicted. 2015 was the hottest year on record; exceeding 2014’s brief tenure there. We’ve got rain at the north pole in the dead of winter, record heat across the eastern seaboard, and overall wicked weather. And we’ve only warmed the earth 1˚C to date.
Miami and Miami Beach, regularly flooding now, will probably be loss leaders for the movement. It seems logical that the area’s the inevitable fate will be surrender and retreat, even though valiant efforts to adapt by pumping the sea water back into the ocean are currently in full force.
The Republican presidential candidates seem to have missed the memo from their Congressional colleagues. Ted Cruz called climate change,“the perfect pseudoscientific theory for a big-government politician who wants more power.”
If you look at the science, it’s hard not to be depressed. We ponder if we’ve already passed irreversible climatic thresholds, but we haven’t hit a tipping point in our political will to create a livable future. Indeed Pope Francis said we were at “the limits of suicide” in advance of the COP21.
We keep doing the work to create a system change because we are close to the shift. In fact, as the shift is already happening, the voices for the status quo get louder.
How long will this shift take? As Mr. Gore noted at our recent training, quoting Martin Luther King Jr, “Not long because no lie can live forever.”
“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
And, I’ll add the shift will happen a lot faster, with your help. This is an all hands-on deck moment in human history.