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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/13/17

The Coming Climate Collapse

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Message Dr. Glen T. Martin
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Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest, looking toward the Andes
Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest, looking toward the Andes
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The Paris Climate Accord is a treaty of sovereign nation-states. "Sovereign" in this context means that they recognize no enforceable law above themselves. It means that the nations of the world insist that their citizens must obey their internal laws, but they themselves refuse to live under the rule of enforceable law. This contradiction is destroying our planetary climate and may lead to our extinction.

The first United Nations (U.N.) sponsored environmental conference was as early as 1972. Twenty years later global alarm about the disintegrating environment resulted in the famous 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference that attracted scientists and leaders from around the world. Even at that time, there was an overwhelming consensus among scientists worldwide concerning the life-threatening crisis of human-caused climate change. It was ten years later, in 2002, that the N.U. sponsored another huge climate conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Despite this scientific consensus, there was general agreement that the Rio climate accord, called "Agenda 21," was a complete failure.

The U.N. then set the "Millennium Development Goals," stating that the unsustainable global economy must be transformed by 2015. The consensus in 2015 was again one of failure. So the U.N. with much fanfare launched a new set of 15 year goals called the "Sustainable Development Goals." These goals give the year 2030 as the deadline for achieving serious reductions in carbon and other emissions. These goals were also largely included in the Paris Climate Accords, signed by some 190 nations.

Does any thoughtful person seriously believe these goals will be achieved? "Sovereign" nations, recognizing no enforceable law above themselves, can only cooperate by entering into voluntary, unenforceable treaties, like the Paris Accord. Yet every sovereign nation operates on the basis of its own perceived economic and military self-interest.

If a thriving capitalist economy conflicts with attaining the sustainable development goals, no nation will pursue these. If nations fail to achieve these goals by the year 2030, no serious consequences follow for these nations or their leaders. The Paris accords are voluntary and unenforceable. Under the present system the climate will inevitably collapse, and within a few decades may no longer support human life.

In Brazil, greedy politicians who are also businessmen have been trying to push through their Parliament a bill allowing them to build some 40 dams on the Tapajos River and its tributaries and thereby flood some 1000 square miles of Amazon jungle. The Amazon jungle, as every thoughtful person knows, is "the lungs of the Earth." What right does Brazil have to destroy the lungs of the Earth? These lungs belong to the planet and to humankind. Yet under the sovereign nation system, Brazil, like every other major country, has the power to destroy us all.

Similarly, the U.S. recently withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, thereby sealing the fate of the entire world's effort to prevent climate collapse. As with Brazil, the U.S. is a sovereign nation and participation in this agreement is voluntary, just as compliance with the agreement is voluntary. Under this system, there is little hope for a decent human future.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is dedicated to creating a sustainable planetary system from beginning to end. To solve the problem of climate collapse, an integrated and comprehensive approach is necessary. For example, global poverty must be eliminated along with global militarism if we are to achieve sustainability. (The N.U. Sustainable Development Goals only recognize poverty as a problem, not militarism.) Today, half the world's population cook their food with wood and charcoal, which is a major cause of deforestation and climate collapse.

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Glen T. Martin is professor of philosophy and chair of the Peace Studies Program at Radford University in Virginia. President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA), the Institute on World Problems (IOWP), and International (more...)

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