The Growing Global Ethic

Certain politicians wasted their time, and our money, trying to make an impeachable offense out of the bogus Benghazi conspiracy theory, or at least generate outrage over the benefits of having health care insurance. Meantime, we are thrust into a global condition that we simply cannot avoid, that they pretend does not exist. No matter how much Republicans, conservatives, and the very rich would like to pretend they have nothing to do with it, the fact is that they are in the thick of it.

The entire planet is in grave danger, and many of them carry primary responsibility for the present and future conditions that we will all be forced to address and endure.

The entire planet is in grave danger,
and we are the responsible parties.

People everywhere are waking up to the realization that we have created conditions that may not allow us to survive, individually or collectively. These are people who know first hand.

Ask a Republican about global climate change and you are likely to elicit an opinion that either there is no such thing, that it’s not worth worrying about, that it’s a natural phenomenon, or that corporate capitalism has nothing whatever to do with it.

But ask a peasant farmer in Bangladesh, and he may tell you about the million-plus people who had to move to the mainland because their island farmland was washed away by rising seas. Ask a Florida seashore developer and he may speak of the thousands of tons of sand that must be trucked in every year to prevent tall buildings right on the water from toppling into it. Ask any citizen of any large Chinese city, and she may point out that air pollution is so bad that many thousands are dying from lung disease. Ask any Brazilian and he may tell you that the criminal loggers in the Amazon forest illegally took 28% more timber than they did a year ago, and that this destroys the most important CO2 sink on the planet. And the Bangladeshi farmer may well be aware of the situation in the Amazon, and the Chinese the Bangladesh. Awareness has circled the globe.

Peasant farmers in Bangladesh understand.
Brazilian workers understand.
Only Republicans are too stupid to get it.

In short, word has gotten around, and it doesn’t require advanced degrees to understand that we are all in serious trouble. This is fact, not someone’s surmise, not a mysterious undetectable global conspiracy of tens of thousands of climate scientists worldwide who have nothing to gain by lying about their research.

Times have changed over the past several thousand years, I just noticed. In the early centuries of recorded history, international diplomacy consisted mostly of conquering heroes assaulting a people with the purpose of killing them all and carrying off everything of value. Consider Joshua, Alexander, Genghis Khan, or virtually any military commander. Their common modus operandi was mass murder, annihilation of everyone and everything. For this they were celebrated. (“Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho…”—and murdered everybody and every animal, and laid waste to the land. Good going, Josh.) It is only very recently that we have come to think this is maybe not the best way to do things. WWII is the first time the winning combatants actually helped the losers to recover.

The ethic has changed, and continues to change. Perhaps part of the reason is that with the invention of the hydrogen bomb we became very aware of the possibility of complete annihilation of the human race, down to the last individual, and all animal life besides. This threat has not gone away, BTW. There are still thousands of nuclear weapons hanging around, their control systems becoming increasingly antiquated and untrustworthy. Dozens of catastrophes were averted by the narrowest luck. Half a dozen detonations, for whatever reason, could spell the end of all life.

A new global ethic is arising,
something that has
never happened before.

That’s scary enough, but more frightening may be that the global climate is deteriorating so rapidly, and so certainly, that grave consequences are certain, if not quite so immediately awful as the loss of all life from radiation and nuclear winter would be. New studies show that the sea level is likely to rise a meter or more by the end of the century.

And so a new global ethic is arising, something that has never happened before. Billions of people have come to realize that neither we individually nor we as individual nations can head off the worst consequences of the monster the “advanced” nations have created. We must somehow demand that the people who carry the primary responsibility for global warming understand what they have wrought, and begin to accept responsibility, not for avoiding it, which is much too late to do, but for doing our best to lessen the impact.

But we refuse to do that, and the victims in the Third World are pissed. Pissed about being painted with the same brush that begrimes the guilty industrial nations, because they are not the guilty parties, and certainly don’t have the money to clean up after us. They walked out of the Warsaw conference, which was only rescued by a last minute compromise, but nothing much was decided anyway, some four decades into the disaster.

And who are the ones responsible? First, the polluting corporations that are doing nothing to accept their responsibility, and continuing to pollute. Second, climate change deniers, virtually all of whom will profit from their global crimes until the shorelines vanish. Third, national interests, the US in particular, which as a nation has done some good by passing laws that protect the environment, but which has steadfastly failed to accept a suitably proactive role, and which has repeatedly refused to even recognize its primary role as the world’s most polluting nation. Fourth, all of us in the advanced nations, particularly in the US, who have failed to understand the gravity of the situation, and how we personally contribute to that failure simply by continuing the wasteful lifestyle we pursue.

We simply cannot continue as before, with no sense of the responsibility we bear for the future of all life. America and Americans must investigate, accept, and embrace the new ethic that is rapidly spreading across the globe.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Words of wisdom, John. Have you heard of permaculture? It’s sweeping the planet…and it’s very good news. Thanks, as always, for your insight. I really gain hope from your perspective on how our ethic is changing, and I also see it in movies and mainstream media increasingly. It’s just not cool anymore to be power hungry.


  2. Peasant farmers in Bangladesh understand.
    Brazilian workers understand.
    Only Republicans are too stupid to get it.

    Sad but true –

    Another one to think about – the link is being sent to some friends



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