Is Climate Chaos a Moral Issue?

If we fail to reorder our value-and-exchange system and do not treat the planet with respect and honor, we will fail to redirect the future from the several cliffs towards which it is heading.

Our value-and-exchange system is economics in its largest sense.

The planet we must honor and respect is not a chunk of rock and water. It includes Earth’s living creatures, human and other than human. It consists of a finite stock of mineral and organic resources including soil, fisheries, forests.

It holds living biomes as intact communities; it operates by homeostatic means by which it has maintained over millennia its own balance and our collective well-being. Our myopia has failed to value these crucial environmental services.

Doing business as usual with new light bulbs and less plastic will not be the shining path to a future we want for our children.

Greater efficiency, less waste and more education will be wise choices, but that must be played out with rules different from the ones that created the mess we’re in.

If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always got.

No new technology–even an imagined discovery that miraculously made limitless energy from human waste or water–will be our salvation if we operate on the infinite-earth growth-forever premise of our father’s economic machinery.

This has been my thinking lately, so when the SEJ concurrent session called “What Would Jesus Do about CO2?” showed up on the Saturday (Oct 5) schedule, I went. This seemed more about the value shift that to me seems utterly unavoidably necessary if we are to pass through the wormhole and live worthy and meaningful lives in humanity’s future.

Here is the program staffing:

Moderator: Christy George, Independent TV Producer

Dawn Coppock, Co-founder and Volunteer Legislative Director, Lindquist Appalachian Environmental Fellowship
Alex Feldt, Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Joseph Romm, Founding Editor, and Chief Science Editor, Showtime TV series, “Years of Living Dangerously”

▶ Joe Romm was familiar to me from the role he plays in climate education substantiated by solid science. You may be a ClimateProgress regular. If you’re interested in the science, you will have bookmarked that resource.

▶ Alex Feldt is a philosopher who sees climate change in terms of human rights and the ethics of how we treat people and planet.

▶ Dawn Coppock is an attorney in the Knoxville area and introduced attendees to the work of LEAF.

I’ll have more to say about this session and its take-homes tomorrow. Or soon.

And I’d point you toward the upcoming (2014) Showtime series that will be the personal stories of climate change called “The Years of Living Dangerously.” We saw the previews in an earlier SEJ concurrent session where Romm was on the panel. I promise this series will make a difference–maybe, even, to those who are not already in the choir.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. The link you provided to the TV series didn’t get me to any info that I could see. We don’t get Showrime, so it isn’t something I will see, but it sounds good.