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Global Climate Change: Seeing The Opportunity In The Threat

Updated on December 5, 2015

Opportunity Not Threat

The debate over whether or not human beings have contributed to global climate change is a distraction.

It distracts our energy from the work that we need to do and channels it into a never ending debate over whether we are having an effect or not.

If people want to believe that their behaviour is not part of the problem and that the changes that we are experiencing are simply a natural weather cycle, then that is their right.

I cannot see how we can dismiss the changes that humans have brought about since the beginning of the industrial revolution some 500 years ago as having no effect on our planet but there are those who do and I see no point in devoting any of my time to debating the point.

There is enough evidence that changes are taking place and will continue to do so for me to say that it is time to put an end to this debate and ignore the distractions it causes, and get on with the work that needs to be done. Let the deniers, deny. The rest of us can do.

What we can do is reduce the negative effect that we are having and increase the positive.

People make choices, each and every day; for example we can choose to recycle or not; we can choose to reduce our consumption or not; we can choose to practice fair trade or not; this list goes on and on. The choices are there and we can and do make them.

Now is the time to choose to devote our energy to healing the planet; to repair the damage that we have done and while doing so build sustainable communities.

Global climate change is a serious threat. We cannot be intimidated by the disastrous consequences that global climate change has brought and will continue to bring if we sit back and get distracted by an endless debate.

Now is the time to recognize the opportunity that lives within the threat.

How do we do this?

First, it is important to state what we mean when we use the words, sustainable and sustainability. These two words have been so widely used and so loosely defined as to almost be meaningless; in fact, some simply want to chuck them away.

I disagree, in order to have a discussion from which a plan of action arises, it is essential to have a common language that all participants can understand.

In 1987, the Brundtland Report was commissioned by the United Nations to explore options for sustainable growth and development. The document was developed by the World Commission on Environment and Development and has been a reference point on the subject of sustainability for the last two decades.

The report defines sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This is the definition that I am working with and the one that can help guide our actions as we move to repair the damage that has been done.

Where to start?

Kenneth Boulding was a forceful advocate of normative economics who brought ethical, religious and ecological concerns to bear on the analysis of desirable economic outcomes - and a ceaseless activist for the integration of the social sciences. It is what has become referred to as Boulding’s first law that guides our vision of a possible and attainable future.

Boulding's 1st Law: "Anything that exists is possible.

We can look at what is working and apply the basic concepts that are at work, to rebuilding or redesigning our community.

A source of encouragement and much needed hope is the work of William McDonough. McDonough is the co-author, along with Michael Braungart, of the book Cradle to Cradle.

Cradle to Cradle maps the lineaments of McDonough and Braungart's new design paradigm, offering practical steps on how to innovate within today's economic environment. Part social history, part green business primer, part design manual, the book makes plain that the re-invention of human industry is not only within our grasp, it is our best hope for a future of sustaining prosperity.

The case studies that the book presents give us evidence that anything that exists is possible.

Another source of inspiration and hope is the work of the many localvores or local food groups that have sprung up across the country. The 100 Mile Diet may well be the best know.

Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon are the force behind the 100 Mile Diet and their work and personal commitment has influenced people all across North America.

When you reduce the distance that your food travels from the farm where it is grown to yoru kitchen table, you are participating in an activity that reduces the amount of fossil fuels that are used to transport that food the many miles it will otherwise travel.

Another project that offers hope and solutions is the work of the relocaliziation network.

Relocalization is a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food, energy and goods, and the local development of currency, governance and culture. The main goals of Relocalization are to increase community energy security, to strengthen local economies, and to dramatically improve environmental conditions and social equity.

There are relocaliziation groups at work all around North America. See if there is one near you and if there is not, consider starting one.

The examples of the possible are numerous and there is something that each of us can do, if we decide to act rather than be distracted by an empty debate.

You could join a community garden or start one, you can plant a tree or an urban forest, and you can start a local food buying club based upon the 100 mile diet.

Perhaps, the most important thing that you can do is do, and share with others what you are doing; together we can be a force that makes a difference.

Do not let another day go by; seize the opportunity.

Cradle to Cradle


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    "We need to stop polluting, and start conserving in order to make the world a better place to live in." that is exactly whatwe need, Amanda, thanks for contributing.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 

    10 years ago from UK

    Hi Bob

    Interesting article, and some great debate you've sparked off there. I'm with you in that we waste too much time debating whether or not human activity is responsible for climate change. For me, the jury is still out on that one, but I can see that oil production is now failing to meet demand (again, whether oil is a finite resource is not the question for debate) The fact is that the developing countries such as China and India are gobbling up as much oil as they can get, and when demand outstrips supply, there is only one way for prices to go, and that's up. The knock on effect of this is already upon us. We don't have your hundred mile food plan in the UK, but there is a growing groundswell of people who are trying to take action on a local basis in order to improve how we do things. We need to stop polluting, and start conserving in order to make the world a better place to live in.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for your comments.

  • Ralph Deeds profile image

    Ralph Deeds 

    10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

    Good hub.

    IMHO it's a mistake to frame the debate as an either-or proposition when it's clear that the global climate is the product of 1. man-made factors which are within our control and 2. cosmic factors that are beyond our control. The science is quite clear that carbon emissions are warming the earth. We can and should be doing everything we can to deal with this factor even though it's possible that cosmic factors which have caused warming and freezing cycles in the past could couterbalance or accentuate the man-made factors. We should be doing what we can to deal with the factors within our control. Achieving this will require science, education and global political efforts.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks Mark, I too have made my choices.

  • Mark Knowles profile image

    Mark Knowles 

    10 years ago

    You have to wonder at the mentality of people who think that burning all the fuels we do does not have an effect on the environment.

    Cutting down all the trees in the rain forest has no effect on the planet lol

    Killing all the fish we do is having no effect lol

    And then they claim to understand what caused the past climat changes lol

    They know it wasn't anything to do with a massive increase in human population lol

    Nice hub Bob. Well written as usual.

    I have made my choices.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    you are welcome to your opinion, thanks for the comment.

  • joer4x4 profile image


    10 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

    Solutions to what?

    We've been under 20 years of regulation with CFC's and the ozone hole is as big as ever. There are no humans on Mars, yet its ozone fluctuates with the seasons just like on Earth,

    Banning DDT has kill over 50 million Africans. The only problem with ever found with DDT was that is used too much and in the wrong places. Never proven to be harmful to humans. Thin Eagle egg shells is a small price to pay for 50 million lives. The United Nations now admits it was wrong about DDT.

    Global Warming cause by humans? This planet is bigger than all of us and it does what it wants. Not you or I or anyone else can or will stop Climate Change.

    Its purely political in nature as was DDT and the ozone.  Follow the money trail. The real question is - are we warming or cooling? Evidence says we are going into a cold spell and if we do did we cause that too? I guess we humans are fickle - we can't make up our minds.

    Everytime we fall for this hype it cost us dearly. We pay more for lesser quality products, we lose more freedom, and how sad, human life.

    You say you can't dismiss the changes of the last 500 years. Did humans bring on the Little Ice Age? What about the 500 years before that? Did people cause the Medieval Warm Period riding around in there SUV's or maybe they were drilling in ANWR? Perhaps they should have fed their horses ethanol instead of hay?

    Very nice hub that would have stood for itself with out the Global Warming pretense.

    BTW - What is a fossil fuel? Oil wells replenish themselves! 

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    thanks Eileen, if we want the politicians to act, we need to make it clear that no action, no vote.

  • Eileen Hughes profile image

    Eileen Hughes 

    10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

    You now go to the top of the class, It needed to be said well done. So many people sit on our a... and do nothing. Yes we all complain about things but like you say really do nothing.

    What upsets me is we are all trying to do our bit with recyling. When you check on what is done with the stuff so much is still thrown away and not recycled. Simply because it costs too much. Sooo what is the point.

    Yes Maybe im up on my stool. Why are the councils (shire) whatever not doing what is supposed to be done.

    Great hub by the way thanks for those ideas.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    thanks for the comments

  • Dorsi profile image

    Dorsi Diaz 

    10 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    I agree 100% with you Bob. The arguments over who and what is causing climate change is taking precious energy away from what we should be doing- trying to come up with solutions to runaway climate change.I am concerned that is now too little too late but like my dad used to say "Never Give Up!"Fantastic hub and a subject that needs more and more discussion, for sure!

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 

    10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Excellent hub

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for the comments.

  • kerryg profile image


    10 years ago from USA

    Well put, and very inspirational!

  • stevemark122000 profile image


    10 years ago from Southern California

    Lots of great ideas to improve the environment. Very informative hub!


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