What is Humanity’s Relation to Climate Change? The crisis forces us to reevaluate our self-stories while simultaneously facing the strict limitations established by nature.
According to Freud, the discovery by Copernicus that the Earth circled the sun, which removed us from the center of the universe, and Darwin’s discovery that we are animals that have undergone evolutionary change were the two greatest blows to humanity’s sense of self. Even if these two findings challenged our belief in our own superiority, the traumatic shock of climate change dwarfs their significance.
Climate Change demonstrates unequivocally that mankind does not possess a particular prerogative to transcend its material circumstances. Furthermore, unlike Copernican cosmology or Darwinian evolution, the climate problem is not only a challenging concept for society to comprehend; it also represents a clear boundary, a warning, and a threat to human life as we know it on Earth. The climatic crisis kills us, in contrast to prior insults to our collective ego.
Instead, they are ideological fictions, received narratives that the public as a whole takes to be true. They make the world appear as though it should be normal. However, they do so at the expense of our ability to properly comprehend the effects of climate change and how we may behave differently to restore some of the world for our offspring.
The technical revolution of the industrial and postindustrial ages seems merely to confirm this idea. If the premodern West portrayed European men as the lords of nature, controlling ostensibly lower creatures by virtue of their uniquely superior intelligence, this image is confirmed. We produce a lot of food. We use highly skilled robots to do delicate and difficult surgery. We can communicate instantly with someone on the other side of the world thanks to our little mobile computers, or we can access almost the whole global knowledge base.
We sail across oceans like gods, rise to the heavens, arrive on the moon, and even send back pictures of Pluto. By expanding the average world’s longevity by decades, we have even avoided death. Looking back at all humanity has accomplished, it’s simple to see a future with increasing prosperity and freedom.
This projected utopia is revealed to be a profound fantasy by climate change. It demonstrates that we have not at all transcended our materiality in the course of geological time and space. We are completely woven into and connected with the planetary systems of Earth as a species. Furthermore, just because we can change the way the climate system functions doesn’t give us the authority to create and destroy entire planets.
It was bacteria that initially released the waste oxygen that allowed Earth to support life. That is the slowest thing possible. We are driving global extinction by destroying local biospheres, flooding the liquid portions of our globe with plastic, and heating the climate system with our garbage, much like bacteria do. Our basic existence is at peril now that we are being profaned. We have always been surrounded by nature; it is no longer directly under us.
Do we, as a species that is deeply entwined with and dependent on our planetary system, also have a fixed nature like, say, snakes or trees? After all, species typically don’t alter their behavior while maintaining their species identity. A snake or tree that was alive thousands of years ago behaved similarly to a snake or tree that is alive now (in fact, some trees have simply endured thousands of years of continuous existence).
But even if 3,000 years is, for evolutionary purposes, virtually now, a human being alive in, say, ancient Egypt did not think or act like a 21st-century Egyptian does. Our opinions evolve.
Our actions alter. Politics alters the way we arrange ourselves. Who is considered to be human varies. Our civilizations and our lives aren’t static; they’re always changing. That human nature is not fixed is what makes it such a wonderful paradox.
In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, historian Yuval Harari argues that one of humanity’s most distinguishing traits is its ability to fabricate ideological tales, collective fictions we take to be true, which allow large numbers of strangers to band together, share knowledge, and cooperate—only for our tales and their cooperative systems to be altered in the blink of a geological eye.
Our daily lives in the real world and even how we view our bodies are significantly impacted by these cultural shifts to our ideological fiction. More “instinctual” and “human nature” factors appear to be involved with sexuality.
Even this characteristic, though, is influenced by the stories we tell ourselves about the outside world. For instance, in early modern Europe, it was thought that males had less of a desire for sex than women because they were more “rational” and less affected by their physical humor. Women, on the other hand, were thought to be less logical and more erotically inclined.
Fast-forward 150 years, and for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, though less so today, men were perceived as innately lustful while women were considered to be “frigid” and resistive to orgasm. These kinds of ideological fictions have profoundly subjective, sometimes even biological, repercussions, yet they are essentially stories that justify the way power is organized through the use of beliefs and violence. In this instance, guys were said to possess the most admirable sexual qualities. These characteristics and experiences seem to reflect human nature. However, they don’t. And the myth that claims people will always choose to utilize oil and gas regardless of the repercussions is just as true.
That myth makes our current system seem inevitable, thus supporting the fossil fuel economy. But because of the way our collective fictions construct it, our system appears to be inevitable. Even the slightest opposition to our fossil fuel system refutes the idea that it is inhumane for people to surrender their survival to the greed of the powerful, despite the fact that we cannot simply change our collective stories on an individual basis. Even as a species, we do not wear a hair shirt of guilt everywhere we go.
Even if we are all tied to some extent by our cooperation in the crisis, there is a distinct difference between those who started it and those who are affected by it.
We must both recognize and accept the fundamental limitations of the planetary system, upon which we are fully dependent and embrace our ability to rewrite our collective fictions and therefore redistribute social and political power. This is why dealing with climate change needs us to maintain two points of view. We might discover a notion of humanity that will save us in that dual consciousness. Are there any effective methods to combat climate change? Yes.
The solutions to the world’s environmental crisis are found in humans. Have we got the will?
The evidence is overwhelming that humans are creating climate change, which will have grave repercussions for life as we know it.
In 1979, experts started to warn about global warming, which is now more generally referred to as climate change. Scientists prefer this phrase to express the intricate changes currently affecting our planet’s weather and climate systems. In addition to average temperature increases, extreme weather, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, increasing sea levels, and a variety of other effects are all included in the concept of climate change.
The issue of climate change cannot be resolved by any one method. However, almost all of these options are now readily available. Some of them range from the preservation of forests from extinction to changes in the world’s electrical supply.
The potential of contemporary technologies
Better technologies will make it simpler to reduce emissions from activities like manufacturing and transportation.
A smarter electric grid, better batteries for storing renewable energy, and the ability to absorb carbon dioxide from power plants and store it underground or use it to make valuable products like gasoline are all promised by new technological advancements. Despite worries about safety, water use, and toxic waste, others contend that nuclear power should be a part of the answer because nuclear reactors don’t directly produce air pollution while they are operating.
Should we instead employ geoengineering?
While it’s imperative to stop the production of new greenhouse gases, experts assert that we also need to remove the carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere by effectively sucking it out of the sky.
Geoengineering, a branch of research that tampers with the planet’s natural systems, includes the contentious practice of removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Other forms of geoengineering entail releasing aerosols into the atmosphere that reflect sunlight or obstructing the sun with a massive space mirror. According to studies, we don’t understand the potential risks of geoengineering well enough to use it.
Thus, Restoring nature to safeguard the environment is imperative.
The Amazon rainforest is a significant carbon storage area for the planet, but a study from 2021 revealed that deforestation was turning this storage area into a pollution source.
The amount of climate mitigation required to meet the 203o targets set forth in the Paris Agreement may be as high as 37% if nature is restored and protected. The biodiversity may benefit from protecting these ecosystems as well, benefiting all of nature.
Change, or else
Communities all across the world have already realized that addressing climate change also requires adaptation. A new wave of programs focuses on enhancing resilience throughout regions facing rising droughts and fires, from coastal communities vulnerable to flooding. These include controlling or stopping soil erosion, creating resilient energy systems like microgrids, and designing structures to account for increasing sea levels.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which was enacted last year, represented a significant investment in battling and coping with climate change.
Recent works have offered bold yet straightforward strategies for changing our current direction, including Drawdown and Designing Climate Solutions. Though the concepts differ, the message is constant: We already possess many of the resources required to combat climate change. Many of the suggestions entail adjustments that anybody can undertake, such as cutting back on meat consumption or reevaluating your means of transportation. However, others of the principles are broad ones that businesses and governments must execute.
According to the authors of Designing Climate Solutions, “We have the technology today to move quickly to a clean energy system.” “And the cost of that future, without accounting for environmental benefits, is roughly equal to that of a future with a high carbon footprint.”