OPINION

Our climate needs a change of values

Over the past few months, the average citizen has been made to feel somewhat adrift, singled out, guilty of certain crimes he is not aware of having committed. All of a sudden, he is being accused outright of leading the planet toward certain disaster through his actions and omissions. Famous scientists are bombarding him with one grim assertion after another; dozens of non-government organizations are pointing the finger at him, along with the United Nations, which earlier this week unveiled a shocking new report placing the responsibility for global warming firmly on the shoulders of man. The European Commission has also put its foot down, on Wednesday announcing a new strategy aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from cars. Many bewildered citizens who had considered the EC as oligarchical, passive, and devoid of imagination have been surprised by this sudden decisive initiative. I always believed the Commission to be a closed, capitalist club that promotes the Anglo-Saxon labor model in order to fill the pockets of big businesses. What suddenly provoked it out of its hibernation? Maybe we are actually on the brink of disaster. No one can actually say how close we are to the annihilation of our civilization. It would be wrong to take a stance on this issue in order to create an impression or boast knowledge. We all know something of the ongoing debates between the «friends» and «enemies» of the planet. If we listen to the former we risk becoming complacent. If we listen only to the latter, we might as well give up the fight right now. Perhaps it is us who have been excessively zealous in our efforts to destroy everything that nature has offered us. Didn’t we take the culture of individualism to the maximum, particularly during the second half of the 20th century? We played the game of unbridled consumerism with abandon. Today we are simply reaping the rewards of our ill-considered achievements. But it is possible to change our approach. One look around at the intense activity and efforts being made in this area, even by big businesses, should serve to inspire us. An attempt is under way to create a framework of consensus for action. Of course this will only come at a cost – businesses will have to change their ways. And we, as consumers, may have to give up the comforts we have become accustomed to and look for other ways to facilitate our lives. James Lovelock, the world-renowned scientist and environmentalist, claims that man is at war with the Earth and needs to make peace with it if he is to survive. He appears to belong to the pessimists’ camp. But the fact that the global debate about climate change is gaining ground daily means the time has come for a revolution of values.