Climate Risk and UU Issues
An essay on why we might lose the future
Jan Dash, PhDUU-UNO Climate Initiative (Chair)
I wake up every morning around 5:30 a.m. and go straight to my email to get the latest bad newson climate change. Current actual and future projected increasing negative climate impacts arelaid out. Climate impacts will increasingly dominate human activities globally if we continue business as usual without mitigation. There is no safe haven. We must do what we can to mitigatethe damage we are doing to the planet. If we do not deal effectively with the climate problem, wemay indeed lose the future. Dealing effectively with climate will be hard, but will have positivefuture aspects, including large-scale renewable energy and green jobs.The road to effective mitigation of climate change, with some adaptation, has been clear for along time. The framework is
climate risk management
. We have many risks that we managesuccessfully. Climate risk needs to be managed too. Awareness of the climate problem with thefocus, will and determination to act today are the key. Though we UUs are small in number, wecan have significant leverage to mitigate the climate problem. Yet today we do not have thenecessary focus, will, or determination. Why?We need to see climate change as NOT just one more issue in the long list of other legitimate UUconcerns: social justice, peace, women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT, immigration, housing, the poor, public health, water, ethical eating, pollution, technology, light bulbs, sustainability, solar panels, political action, and many others.All these issues are important, and they have dedicated advocates that work hard every day tomake the world a better place. We need this advocacy.Those involved with climate change are viscerally aware of these issues. Climate change interactswith all other issues and exacerbates them. The UU-UNO Climate Portal and many other sitesdocument these impacts and linkages.
But climate is the unique problem which if not mitigated will make all these other issuesmoot in the long run.
We cannot solve these issues if climate impacts, already visible andalready impacting some people, continue unabated with long-term potentially unimaginablyhorrible consequences. Linkages need to be a two-way street. We need to work hard on climate inaddition to those issues that demand our attention; otherwise, there can be no enduring solution toany issue. We can have positive focus on all issues.In brief, we need to act on climate alongside our other activities, with the urgency that climatechange demands so that we meet our moral and ethical obligations to those that are beingimpacted by climate now, and so that the world will be a place in which our children andgrandchildren want to live. A few examples (there are many more):
Those who act on immigration might consider also acting on climate change, because if climate change continues unabated there will be hundreds of millions of desperatedisplaced homeless people migrating in many parts of the world, with millions enteringthe US from Mexico, having zero rights. Governments may treat immigrants as invaders.