The scale of the coming disaster of climate change is so vast that the whole matter seems to be uncontrollable. Our 20th century science taught us how to mobilize the forces of nature but it did not strengthen our social conscience correspondingly, and the result is that all these forces have been collected into some horrible engine of self destruction which now increases like the cursed thing it is, like some blind destiny which is about to destroy our civilization.
This is the time for action; this tragedy that is about to come over all of us calls for action.
What the human intelligence has done, the human intelligence may be able to undo again. I feel sure that if one hundredth part of the consideration and thought given by individuals to the use of resources were given to schemes of carbonless production and transportation, then the crisis may never come to fruition.
The world will divide into two camps, climatologists and business, and a chasm of hatred will develop between them, not only individually but also internationally. When you think of creating the machinery for this carbon stable world, you have to bear in mind that the time, in a certain sense, will be the most unpropitious possible for the effort you are trying to make.
Vast social and industrial changes are coming, perhaps upheavals which may, in their magnitude and effect, be comparable to global war itself as populations are displaced by rising seawater.
A steadying, controlling and regulating influence will be required to give stability to this progress, and one unable to be filled by nations- it is more the embodiment and living expression of the moral and spiritual unity of the human race- for civilization is one body, and we are all members of one another.
To the people of the West, who have been exceptionally blessed with the good things in life, I would make a special appeal. Let them exert themselves to the utmost in this great work of saving our world. They have a great mission, and in fulfilling it they will be as much blessed as blessing. Famine for large numbers is not far off.
We have left behind a great era in the history of the world. We do not see it yet, and we are in a transition between the two. It is one of the most interesting and one of the most difficult periods for any generation to pass through. It is an immense movement forward in the thought, the science, the philosophy in forms of human development, but we are running the risk of becoming submerged in the details, and it is all important for us to get some larger view of all this vast mass – as Hamlet said: “The time is out of joint! O cursed spite. That ever I was born to set it right.”
It will never be achieved in one bound, and it would be foolish to expect that – so why should we clean up our act? At the current 400 ppm of carbon dioxide, science says that this will globally cause temperature to rise between 1 and 3 degrees, and that a 3 degree rise will melt the Greenland ice cap, resulting in global sea levels rising 7 meters (and a similar thawing of the western Antarctic shelf would cause a further 7 meter rise in sea level).
With men, all mortal and spiritual values are expressed in terms of altitude. We speak of men who have risen, or of aims or ideals that are lofty; we place the seat of our highest religious ideal in high heaven. The low expresses degradation, both physical and moral, and the worry for me is that the food-illiterate population dismiss the Fenland, the most fertile soil, as being unworthy of consideration because it is low. Yet, it is on this Fen that a grower can feed a man for a year from only half an acre, but not if it becomes flooded with sea water – then there will be nothing except migrant men, to join the millions displaced from the Ganges delta, the Nile delta, the Mississippi delta and from every other river delta in our world.