The 2,500 page UN report "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability" by a panel of the world's leading environmental scientists has listed the dangers and catastrophes already being wrought by global warming such as more droughts, mass extinctions of plants and animals, increasing food shortages, and conflict over resources. By postponing cuts in emissions of planet-heating greenhouse gasses, the situation will only get more bleak said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: "Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change."
Environmentalists and liberals are committed to solving this global crisis and are willing to make personal sacrifices for it. Conservatives, on the other hand, justify their inaction on the basis of cost and the need to keep on capitalism's path of progress. Meanwhile, it is hard to figure out the indifference and paralysis of the large majority in between the left and the right.
The indifference of large segments of the American public are illustrative of what Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics, calls "loss aversion." Climate change is seen as too distant a problem that requires sacrifices now to avoid losses far into the future. Many people do not want to take a gamble on the future. Another reason for avoidance of global warming is that it brings us into a close encounter of our own mortality and the possible collapse of the world we love and cherish.
We believe that the global warming crisis is calling us to change our ideas and actions about the environment and our everyday habits. In our preparation for this Topic we searched through our resources and came up with a large crosscut of our best content on this subject: quotes, e-courses, spiritual practices, films, books, organizations, and teachers. We've even put together a page of memes (illustrated quotes) from our Facebook page, which we encourage you to share on social media.
We have seen a shift toward greater climate change awareness among spiritual people of all stripes, and we are hopeful that those who are still in denial about it will turn themselves around and join us in tackling this environmental, economic, and social problem as a central element in our spiritual activism.
Just to give you a sense of the magnitude and sweep of this topic, look to the sidebar on the right for the list of practices and keywords used to tag these references.
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein is a brilliant overview of global warming and its economic and political ramifications. The award-winning journalist looks at a proposed Marshall Plan for the Earth and assesses what will be needed to spur citizens and politicians to take action on this complicated problem. She salutes the heroes and warriors of this movement, whom she calls "Blockadia," people on the local level who are spreading awareness, marching for changes, and making sacrifices for the common good.
The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community is by far the best and most inspiring, enlightening, and practical overview of the spiritual dimensions of climate change that we have seen. With rare clarity and depth of insight, it reveals the challenges and the new possibilities that this ever-expanding tragedy offers us. Biologists Amy Seidl, Roger Payne, and Stephanie Kaza, among others, mix dire forecasts about what is happening with observations on how with imagination and creativity a new story is emerging, one which emphasizes the interdependence of life on Earth. Segments on alternative fuel options, permaculture, and city gardens demonstrate the commitment of the younger generations to change. Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy and Christian writer Bill McKibben offer words which encourage us to step up and take action for the sake of the planet and our neighbors.