When we, as human beings, get a fever, we immediately get worried and take action. After all, we know that if our body temperature rises to 1.5ºC, let alone 2ºC [3.6 ºF] above the normal average, there can be severe damage, while an increase of 4-6ºC [7.2-10.8 ºF] or more can cause a comatose situation and even death.
So it is, when planet Earth gets a fever. For the past 11,000 years, the average temperature of the Earth has been around 14ºC [57.2ºF]. It is now about to reach an increase of 1ºC. And, if we do not take appropriate measures now to stop this fever from spreading, the forecast is that our planet will be well on its way to anywhere between 2ºC to 6ºC rise in temperature before the end of this century. Under such feverish conditions, life as we know it will dramatically change on planet Earth.
We have no other recourse but to take action now. Not just any action but the right action and at the right time. When, for example, a human person has a fever, we urge them to rest their body, give them a lot of liquids, prescribe the right medicine, and if the fever goes up we bring them to the hospital and try to find the underlying cause of the fever, which can range from a simple infection to life-threatening diseases like cancer.
In the case of a planetary fever, the right prescription requires at least 10 actions to be undertaken and applied.
At the same time, we must also be aware that all actions are not appropriate actions and that some initiatives can worsen the situation. Perhaps our most pressing challenge is the fact that big corporations are capturing the climate agenda to make new businesses designed to take advantage of the crises. In response, we need to send a message, loud and clear, to corporations: ‘Stop Exploiting the Tragedy of Climate Change!’
More specifically, we need to resist the ‘greening of capital’ as the solution by rejecting the following policies, strategies and measures:
Finally, we also need to go beyond identifying right and wrong prescriptions to naming the disease that constantly causes and drives this planetary fever. If we don’t take this step, the fever will keep coming back again and again in a much more aggressive way. We need to take stock of the roots of the disease in order to weather the storm.
Scientists have clearly traced the problem of increasing greenhouse gas emissions back to the industrial revolution 250 years ago while tracking the spurt that has taken place during the past century. From this analysis, it is clear that the industrial model of increased extraction and productivism for the profit of a few is the prime cause of the problem. We need to replace capitalism with a new system that seeks harmony between humans and nature and not an endless growth model that the capitalist system promotes in order to make more and more profit. We need a system that links climate change and human rights and provides for the protection of most vulnerable communities like migrants, and recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Mother Earth and her natural resources cannot sustain the consumption and production needs of this globalized modern industrialized society. We require a new system that addresses the needs of the majority and not of the few. To move in this direction, we need a redistribution of the wealth that is now controlled by the 1%. In turn, this requires a new definition of wellbeing and prosperity for all life on the planet under the limits and in recognition of the rights of our Mother Earth and Nature.
We urgently need to mobilize the world to push for a process of transformation that can address the structural causes that are driving the climate crisis.
Note: More than 370 organizations around the world have endorsed this path of action. See the list here.