Friday, 10 August 2018

The burning issue…


This year, there has been a prolonged period of hot, dry weather in a number of parts of the world. Even south-eastern Australia currently has a severe drought, despite it being winter there. The extreme weather has led to a large number of wildfires. In north America these have ranged from Alaska to Texas, with California suffering its biggest ever wildfire. England, Greece, Portugal and Sweden are just some of the European countries affected. The other side of the coin is that when low pressure weather systems do arrive, they can deposit unusual amounts of rain in a very short period. The higher air temperatures have led to larger accumulations of moisture in the atmosphere. Japan has recently had both problems: the western half of the country had torrential rain, leading to flooding, landslides and fatalities; now the eastern half of the country has had an insufferable heatwave.

All of this can either be explained as the natural vagaries of the weather system on our planet, or as something largely caused by man’s activities – destruction of the forests, burning too much fossil fuel, production of “greenhouse” gases, and so on. As so many scientists now believe that the causes are largely man-made, and that global warming is a fact; and as most people believe that it is foolish and dangerous to do nothing in any case, the countries of the world sent representatives to a convention in Paris in 2015. Despite so many countries having particular worries about short-term damage to their industries and their economies, the countries of the world nonetheless were concerned enough about the long term effects to sign up to the “Paris Agreement”, which is designed to try and limit the types of human activity which may be causing global warming. (See my blog post, “A first for the world”, December, 2015.) One country, which happens to have one of the biggest economies in the world, has given notice that it intends to withdraw from the Agreement. However, everyone else is holding firm, hoping that this decision will be reversed.

One of the main principles of the Bahá’í Faith has, from the beginning, been the unity of all mankind. This is the springboard for social development and progress for humanity as a whole. Bahá’u’lláh Himself, writing in the 1800s, said “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” In 1913, His  Son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, gave a talk in Edinburgh which is referred to as the “Seven Candles of Unity”. In this talk He stated: “The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will erelong be witnessed.” Surely, the Paris Agreement is an example of unity of thought – an attempt to give mankind some peace of mind, security and well-being. Writing in the 1930s, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, saw “the inevitable curtailment of unfettered national sovereignty as an indispensable preliminary to the formation of the future Commonwealth of all the nations of the world.”

It is this idea of “national sovereignty” which may well prove to be an issue with the climate change question. The world needs to consider whether national sovereignty is so important that one government – which can effectively mean one person in some countries! – can be allowed to prevent the world taking remedial action when mankind senses danger. Climate change takes its place alongside all the other threats – including warfare, terrorism and organised crime, which are crying out for some kind of world authority with the capacity to successfully deal with them. For those who have been afflicted by these devastating fires, climate change has literally become the burning issue. We need a means of damping down all these problems, and a world authority is surely the best answer.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)                

5 comments:

  1. Recently I have been referring to self and 6/7 million people as 'Whistle Blowers' can any one tell me if this is a reasonable discription ?
    I

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  2. Well said! The world has to act as one as quickly as possible. What is needed is one universal cause and one common faith.

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  3. A very important issue, which can serve as an indicator of the nations' the progress towards the ideal of unity of thought in world undertakings. The indices you include, backing up the case, are, furthermore, eye-opening!

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  4. See also latest Baha'i World News Service article 14th Aug, 'Imagining UN's evolution, Global governance specialists collaborate.'
    Dr. Lopez-Claros, former Director of Global Indicators Group at the World Bank Group and currently a senior fellow at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, collaborated with Maja Groff, an international lawyer based in The Hague, Netherlands, and Arthur Dahl, a former senior official with the U.N. Environment Programme and current President of the International Environment Forum, on the proposal to reform the U.N. and other global institutions. Titled “Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century,” the proposal highlights the need for a system of global governance capable of effectively addressing the major contemporary challenges facing humanity.

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  5. Thank you, everybody, for these comments.

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