“What do we want?” “When do we want it?” The two most often-posed (and repeated) questions heard at protests, rallies, marches and campaigns whether it be for advocating to end worldwide hunger or stop the destruction of the air, ecosystems and the environment related to the exploitation and burning of fossil fuels.
And, speaking of the latter, there is hardly a person anywhere who either doesn’t know about or isn’t affected in some way by the recent rise in average surface temperatures and/or the fallout that’s being caused by human-induced climate change.
Okay, so in looking at this through a mitigating lens, will countries universally agree and commit to reducing negatively influencing emissions enough (and in the timeframe experts say is essential) to avoid the dire outcomes expected if such fossil-fuel burning isn’t reined in? And, the knowledge that worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are increasing and at an accelerated pace no less, what comfort is there in that? Uh, none.
It can be argued that without serious intervention (curbing, capturing and sinking GHGs), reaching and going off of what’s called the “climate precipice,” is an almost certainty. And, there has been no let-up with regard to the scientific community in getting that urgent message across, and that the time to decisively act is shrinking.
At first glance, that news is less than encouraging. And, the reality is until the overarching sentiment on climate change is one of acceptance that the world is heating up, that humans in this latest instance of planetary warming are responsible, and that the time has arrived to band together to, well, save the planet, it could very well be that in a matter of mere decades we could very well go over the so-called “climatological cliff.”
It is in regard to avoiding the latter at all costs that I now ask what it is we want (or should want) and when it is we want what we want. The European Environment Agency (EEA) in its “Exiting the Anthropocene? Exploring the fundamental change in our relationship with nature” briefing may provide a clue as well as give us hope. It should be noted, “The EEA briefing is part of the ‘Narratives for change’ series, which brings new perspectives to the fore that could trigger change in the way we think and act towards sustainability,” the agency stressed in a Mar. 20, 2023 press release.
In that very release in question and in speaking to this, here is some of what the EEA had to say:
“The way humans have affected the Earth, its climate and ecosystems has prompted thinking about our time as a new geological period — ‘the Anthropocene’ — where our actions have [a] lasting and potentially irreversible effect on the planet.”
At the intersection of nature and the economy and society
So, instead of economic and societal practices being but a means to an end, think of a world where these and nature are as one. This is but one idea explored in the EEA briefing: ”‘Exiting the Anthropocene? Exploring fundamental change in our relationship with nature’.”
And this is helpful how?
“Achieving sustainability requires us to move from viewing nature as a source of capital to respecting its inherent value. …”
“This could reframe our approach to policy responses in the EU and globally and help us address several challenges including overconsumption, inequality, power asymmetries, vested interests, and short-termism,” the agency added.
Is the EEA right?
For more on this, see: “Does sustainability require seeing ourselves as part of nature?” a Mar. 20, 2023 European Environment Agency press release.
⁃ Alan Kandel
Corresponding, connected home-page-entry image: Cmdr. Mark Moran, Lt. Phil Eastman and Lt. Dave Demers, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration