Reason, evidence, the opinion of experts, reports of the United Nations and other respected bodies cannot solve the problem of global warming. In fact, the most important factor that will determine whether we achieve the necessary goal of preventing global warming rising above 1.5C in the next 12 years is human nature. It is human nature that stymied the efforts made in the 1980s to get global warming under control before it got out of hand. Many people are pessimistic that it will be human nature that will stop us acting with enough commitment and vigour to do what is necessary in the next decade to stop global warming being a catastrophe. The latest United Nations report on global warming states that we need transformative action to change our economy and society if we are to deal effectively with the problem and that voluntary efforts will not be enough. Humanism has a strong philosophy on how we as humans should be behaviour, can it help?
This article is about the dilemma that global warming poses to us all. Do we vigorously deny that it is happening thereby ensuring that we can continue to nourish our self-interests, prejudices and ideologies? Do we ignore it, or put it to the back of our minds and get on with our lives? Do we accept it is happening and try to do what we can whilst hoping that it won’t be as bad as suggested, or science will find a way around it, or there is still time to tackle the issue? The scientific consensus is clear, by 2030 we must transform our global economies and societies to reduce our CO2 emissions and prevent the increase in global warming rising above 1.5C. Do we embrace the facts or rationalise our way out of making the necessary sacrifices? What about Humanism? It values reason, a rational and evidence-based approach to decision-making so shouldn’t it be leading the charge?
We were warned years ago, and with increasing urgency lately, that global warming was happening and that the consequences, if it was not addressed, would be severe. However, most of us have done very little that will really make a significant impact to stopping the catastrophic heating of our planet. Plenty of us have tried our best in all sorts of ways but it is not enough. Do we need throw ourselves into campaigning to reduce its impact? Or do we become stoics knowing that we have gone too far for rescue to be a realistic option? Do we go quietly into the night? What will you do and is Humanist philosophy any help?