Take Action – everyone can have an important influence.
From the EVIDENCE TAB you can see the logical argument that building public opinion is the primary, essential task for everyone.
Building public opinion is not easy but everyone, all over the world, is in contact with people who do not realise how serious global over-heating has become. If we let the fossil fuel industries continue as they intend to they will cause more damage to the life-support systems on which we all depend than a world war could. The damage has started, it is too late to stop further damage, but the longer we delay, the worse the damage will be.
The people you try to persuade to wake up to this are going to be frightened and deny it. We have to be patient and understanding but persistent. If you find one person who agrees to act as you do, that gives mutual support to help both of you and more chance of succeeding with others.
Global over-heating damage is increasing so our task gets a little easier each day but it is a race to persuade enough people in time. Everything we care about is at risk. People who are able to face reality and are confident that we can cope with this task, can be quite certain that there are only two mutually incompatible paths available for humanity into the future..
1. The present, fatal path.
Before we can put forward a credible alternative path into the future, we must understand the path that is currently being followed, which is to continue fossil fuel extraction, as if it has no damaging consequences. The output of fossil fuels is set to grow, as it is now at about 3% a year and the industry is betting that governments will fail to control what they do.
This industry is so powerful and employs such a effective political lobbies that no governments has so far had any serious impact on its activities. Any attempt to limit the activities of big business, or to limit the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a minute elite is countered by charges that a dictatorial world government is being imposed. Consequently, most of the media is not trying to alert people to the reality we face, and instead provide a flood of entertainment, distraction and denial. Most people live for immediate gratification, having no thought for the future and no knowledge of the past. This is becoming the established norm.
The rich, of course, will barricade themselves within the shrinking areas of the planet that seem to offer the best protection, while the majority, though consuming mountains of rubbish, become increasingly impoverished, and suffer on a widening and deepening scale until violent reactions add more to the agony. We are strongly on track to follow this path into the future and the further we go the more likely it is to spiral into a catastrophic end to civilization as past generations have known it.
2. The alternative path to a thriving global civilization.
The only credible alternative path must involve such effective controls of fossil fuel extraction that production falls very rapidly to extremely low levels and the vast majority of the reserves remain in the ground for the foreseeable future. Carbon levels in the troposphere will then begin to return to tolerable levels and in hundreds of years we may recover the global temperatures and relatively stable conditions that have favoured our civilization. At the same time, responsible management of the resources of the plant will gradually restore the fecundity of our lands and seas, providing sufficiency for all but an end to wasteful mismanagement.
There are various ways of exerting control of the fossil fuel industry (described in Hansen’s Warning in the Welcome page category list) but the key question is how can it be possible to make governments act in such a decisive way? For many people this seems an impossible task, so they opt for denial and try to carry on their lives in that unhappy state with the usual consequences.
For some confident people, however, there is a determination to do something, even if it is not clear that it will achieve what is needed. Low carbon living is a laudable example to others of what is possible but unfortunately it has no effect at all on fossil fuel extraction – as long as there are many people who will burn all the carbon they can. (See Hansen’s Warning). Only action that stops global fossil fuel extraction is sufficient and this can only be done legitimately by governments.
What is necessary to ensure decisive government action is a public demand and outcry, commensurate with the crisis we face. Public demand cannot succeed if it is only a vocal minority. It is premature to expect sufficient public support for effective government action at this time. So the present task must be to awaken as many people as possible to the reality we face. When the reality is understood by enough influential people, public opinion can be evoked as an effective force, capable of inducing governments to act decisively to stop fossuil fuel extraction..
So public awakening to the reality has to be engendered first and on the international scale. Obviously, for those in positions of power and influence there is a clear responsibility to use their abilities and opportunities to achieve this. These efforts are vital but they also need the support of everyone else who cares. Most of us do not have such positions of power and influence but it is a self-defeating to think that we have no powers and no influence. We can influence those we know more profoundly than any media campaign. Taken in total, the influence of millions of people living ordinary lives, but patiently building public opinion among their huge network of contacts, is essential for change can be brought about.
So for those of us without without special leadership opportunities there is also a vital role. So what can you do? First recognise that you are not alone: this is a task that needs large numbers of responsible people, and you cn add to this total effort. Informing and encouraging others to grasp this reality is essential and on a vast scale. So everyone with commitment has a key role to help in this process. There is a multiplier effect. If you help a few other people to join in this struggle of ideas and at least some of them succeed with a few more people, we are helping to spread the understanding of reality at an increasing rate.
Add to this the fact that anyone beginning to face up to the reality we have to deal with, will find abundant credible evidence to support their understanding, compares with the obviously bogus claims of deniers and those with obvious vested interests and no concern for the world their children will grow up in.
We all have a circle of contacts and the better your social interactions are with the people you know, the more you can achieve with them. The task is to obviouysly to alert them to this crisis but this is a very sensitive undertaking. You need to work at improving each relationship to the point where there is mutual trust and the reality we face can be introduced without trying to force them to accept everything at once. Some people will never respond so waste no more time trying but move on to find those who will respond if you are patient.
So this is not an easy responsibility, it is a demanding task that you can be proud of undertaking. There is also the reward that you will be improving your social skills and awareness of the complexity of other people. This could improve your life in many ways so the effect could be profound: your life could be more meaningful and fulfilling rather than in denial and distraction.
If enough people, throughout the world, rise to this challenge then REALITY will start to break through the barriers of the media and denial. The truth will come out as it often has in the past: suddenly it will be impossible to pretend that those who have been mismanaging the use of the resources of the planet should continue and appropriate changes will happen happen very fast.
Once people wake up the urgency of this crisis it is not over-optimistic to believe that an avalanche of public demand could achieve what is needed. There is abundant non-carbon energy available from solar, wind, wave, tidal, hydro and biosources etc. if investment is diverted to develop it. There is a clear and obvious path to a genuinely sustainable future with good planet management if we decide to take it. Who would chose the path of destruction?
I hope that you will do what you can and that you will feel empowered.
The logic is very simple.
There is a viable alternative future and so fossil fuels have to stay in the ground to stop Global Over-Heating.
Only governments have the legitimacy to control fossil fuel extraction because that is essential in the public interest.
Only with a strong consensus of public opinion can government be induced to act against such powerful vested interests.
Such an alerting of public opinion requires that many people who care about the future for their children and grandchildren, make the effort to alert the people they know.