From 31 October to 12 November, the 26th edition of the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland. The great subject that will be discussed by the 191 participant countries is how to control the global warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the recent report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the world scenario is, more than ever, bleak. We have only one decade to reduce at least half the emissions of carbon dioxide.
Otherwise, we will reach a heating of 1.5 Celsius. At this temperature there would be a serious devastation of nature, as most living beings would not adapt and could disappear.
Such a warming would also dramatically affect humanity, with millions of climate migrants, since their regions will become too hot to live and produce. Moreover, there could be the intrusion of a wide range of viruses that would surely sacrifice an unimaginable number of human lives, far greater than the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to what has already accumulated in the atmosphere, given that CO2 remains there for 100 to 120 years, the changes we make now will not change the increasing course of extreme events caused by this accumulation.
Not even geoengineering, proposed by science, can stop this climate crisis in the near future. Which is why many climate scholars maintain that we’re too late and there’s no going back.
This finding makes many scientists become skeptics and techno-fatalists. However, they claim that if we can no longer change the course of increasing warming, we can at least use available science and technology to minimize its disastrous effects. The current climate, compared to what is to come, could seem mild.
The recent IPCC report in blunt assurance states that this situation is a consequence of human activities that are harmful to nature (deforestation, excessive use of fossil energy, erosion of biodiversity, growing desertification and poor treatment of soils, etc.).
It is imperative to recognize that these climatic disorders have little to do with the vast majority of humanity, who are impoverished and victims of the prevailing system. Unfortunately, this produces a double injustice: one ecological by devastating entire ecosystems and one social by increasing poverty and misery worldwide.
The real causes are the globalized industrialist and extractive mega corporations that do not respect the limits of nature and that start from the false assumption of unlimited growth/development because natural resources would also be unlimited. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ declares this presupposition to be a lie (n.106).
“It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit” (LS 106).
What to expect from COP26 in Glasgow? There are many who doubt whether there will be enough consensus to maintain the Paris Agreement, with the commitment to reduce the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases until reaching zero around 2050.
We know, however, from previous COPs, that the agenda is controlled by agents of mega corporations, particularly oil and food, among others. They tend to maintain the status quo that benefits them and are opposed to fundamental transformations that would compel them to also change their way of production and reduce their profits in terms of the general planetary good. So they create obstacles to consensus and stop more drastic measures in view of the evident deterioration of the Earth’s climate balance.
Observing a long argument, I would simply say what the Earth Charter (2003) and the two ecological encyclicals of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, affirm with all conviction: we have to carry out a “deep ecological conversion” because “we are in the same boat; either we all are saved or no one is saved” (Earth Charter, preamble and conclusion; Fratelli Tuttii n. 30 and 34).
The question arises: how is our relationship with nature: Is it a relationship of robbery or care? Are we preserving its biocapacity or exhausting its goods and services necessary for our life and survival? Because these questions are not proposed in these conferences. They are also not considered nor answered.
Earth and nature constitute, however, the Great Player. All the other projects of the players and the future of our civilization depend on its preservation.
The analysis of the Earth’s degraded situation, undeniable and unrestrained, is never considered in the various COPs. The centrality is occupied by the current political economy, the dominant player, the real cause of climate imbalances. This player is never questioned.
The real savior player is nature, Terra-Gaia, but completely absent from all COPs and will be as well, we assume, in Glasgow. From the perspective of Fratelli Tutti: either we go from the paradigm of the dominus, the human being disconnected from nature and understanding itself as owner and dominator to the paradigm of the frater, of the human being feeling part of nature and brother and sister with humans and with all other beings of nature or else we are going to meet the worst. This is the quaestio stantis et cadentis, that is to say, the fundamental question, without which all other questions are invalidated.
This time, the future is in our hands. As the Earth Charter states at its end: “Like never before in history, common destiny calls us to seek a new beginning.”
In its deepest sense, this is the lesson that Covid-19 wants to teach us. Will we go back to before, terrifying for the majority of humanity, or will we have the courage for a “new beginning,” contrary to the Great Reset of the billionaires?
We long for a true “new beginning” beneficial for the whole community of life, especially for the common home and for us, its inhabitants, nature included. It is the condition of our continuity on this small and splendid planet Earth.
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We need more eco-theologians like leonardo Boff. Hats off to this great and courageous man.