Global Warming Is About Morality?

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Mon, 07/02/2007 - 21:39

Al Gore searches for a new framework for understanding and action:

"[Global warming] is not a political issue. This is a moral issue, one that affects the survival of human civilization. ...It is wrong to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every generation that follows ours." Gore seeks to change the premises of political action: an audacious undertaking. Scientists and prophets have a difficult time being heard. Gore strives to advance a course of action based on belief (morality) and on predictions rooted in science. In the interest of saving the world from itself, Gore is seeking to create an environment and a movement that will make major changes in priorities. Success will require major changes in politics, economics, and lifestyle. He is asking that the society begin to act now to deal with and forestall disasters that may be decades in the future. Let us applaud the goals but be vigilant to balance and control whatever new moral and political system may emerge.

Several years ago, scientists published a description of the dangers to New Orleans of catastrophe from a hurricane and flooding; society failed either to manage the environment, to protect the city from flooding, or to assure the evacuation of residents in the event of disaster. If we failed to deal with this, a small sample of what continued global warming can bring, how can we deal with the impending threat of worldwide disaster?

If global warming is going to make civilization difficult or impossible to sustain, it certainly threatens all humans. The possibility of nuclear war also holds the potential for making human life on the planet difficult or impossible. Political leaders of every nation have failed to find a way to deal with either threat.

When politics fails, and war against an enemy is irrelevant, what are the alternatives? How can we argue for a new form of action by the global community? In the absence of a common world religious or political framework, how to achieve a consensus for action? In other words, in the old moralities, do we find consensus?

What is involved in creating a new morality or a new order? Possibly ritual, dance, music? New moralities have an uneven track record and can lead to painful imposition of the new order by the enlightened leadership; examples include Soviet Communism, Nazi Germany, and some fear the GW Bush/Cheney administration may be laying the groundwork for an authoritarian regime. And finally, even if a new morality were accepted, it would have to be implemented through politics.

"Moving Beyond Kyoto" NY Times, July 1 2007, Opinion:
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