Threats to our future? - what is the reality and how can we alert people in time?

Guardian report 29/6/2015 shows that  some deniers may genuinely fear that effective action to reduce carbon emissions…..     by restricting fossil fuel use would be a serious threat to the world. We know that there are many proven cases where deniers in prominent positions are funded by the fossil  fuel industry but it is also highly likely that many deniers are motivated simply by this perceived threat.

So what is the threat: presumably their world view is that continued and increased use of fossil fuels is necessary to maintain the existing power structures that maintain their prosperity and continually increasing levels of consumption.  If this is correct then their views are implicitly held by many people indeed.

The problem we face is that there is abundant evidence that carbon emissions from fossil fuels must be phased out quickly in order to limit further serious damage to the ecosystems on which we and our children depend.  This must be the priority above all other considerations.

So there is a major  threat to the deniers’ world view - it has to be replaced by a new perception that starting to phase out fossil fuels now as a matter of great urgency will mean that dreams of endless increases in consumerism will have to give way to a new realism and sense of responsibility.  We can create conditions where people could live happier and healthier lives, indeed with less violence and misery but on the basis of reality about what is sustainable at a global level.

To help people to change their understanding of these realities is the most urgent task for anyone who cares about the future of humanity.  Slogans and publicity  are not enough  to change such deep-seated beliefs: we have to engage in discussion at the individual level, with people we know well and with patience but  persistence.  Of course, news events such as the Pope’s initiative help to alert people that something important is at stake but this new reality for most people has to be discussed sympathetically so that the implications become acceptable over a period of adjustment, that can be very stressful. Giving up fossil fuels is at least as stressful as giving up smoking  but with the right support people can come to know a world without smoking which is a happier healthier lifestyle.