DEAR READERS: Many of you will be sharing my dismay and disgust at the recent rulings from the Trump-centric majority in the U.S. Supreme Court with regard to expanding gun rights, undermining reproductive rights and eroding the wall separating church and state. Now, to cap it all, the Supreme Court has prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency from crafting broad regulations to drive the country's energy industry away from coal and towards cleaner sources such as wind and solar.
The court's ruling, as detailed by the science journal Nature, could make it much harder for the Biden administration and its successors to curb greenhouse gases as promised under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. And that spells bad news for the planet, because the United States is both one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world and a crucial player among the countries tackling climate change.
This makes the Disunited States of America a pariah among the nations striving to prevent the looming catastrophic consequences of our collective contributions to climate change and the associated loss of biodiversity. Experts predict more frequent, more intense and longer-lasting floods, droughts, hurricanes, forest fires, crop failures, famines, plagues, political crises and losses of wildlife and habitat. The United Nations estimates there will be 200 million environmental refugees by 2050, and the true number will likely be much higher.
Without putting a cap on carbon emissions, the extinction of much of the life on planet Earth will be inevitable, with a percentage loss of biodiversity that will make existence even more of a challenge for our children's children. We can still avert, or at least minimize, this legacy and impact, but only if we choose to fight for justice for all.
The Supreme Court rulings violate the core principles of social, economic and environmental justice and the rule of law, failing to protect and serve the common good. While some may choose to live simply so that others may simply live, the fact remains that our fossil fuel-based economy -- and our expanding populace -- are limiting the options for future generations.
Some environmental changes, such as localized warming and destructive weather events, may be happening "naturally" due to alterations in Earth's solar orbit and the extent of the planet's axis tilt. But anthropogenic factors compound the severity and duration of such climatic events.
Climate change deniers need a reality check. The existential call for global collaboration to address the climate and species-extinction crises is louder than ever. I recommend that all concerned read David Wallace-Wells' book "The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming."
As Wallace-Wells asserts, "We have all the tools we need, today, to stop it all: a carbon tax and the political apparatus to phase out dirty energy; a new approach to agriculture and a shift away from beef and dairy in the global diet; and public investment in green energy and carbon capture."
Dystopian conditions will only intensify until we adopt the Seventh Generation Principle based on Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy -- namely, that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. This is the basic principle of empathic consequentialism on which I elaborate in my book "Brining Life to Ethics: Global Bioethics for a Humane Society." This is also a great resource: davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change.
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