9th IEF Webinar Discussion: The Recent IPCC Report
28 August 2021
The 9th IEF Webinar was a discussion on The Recent IPCC Report – What Are Its Practical and Spiritual Implications? on 28 August 2021.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has started to release its Sixth Assessment Report with the results of Working Group I on the Physical Science Base. The reports of other working groups will come out over the next year. The report confirmed its previous conclusion that the human causes of climate change are indisputable, that climate change is happening now and affecting all parts of the world in multiple ways, and that it will get much worse if we do not take urgent action to reduce all emissions of greenhouse gases immediately.
Participants in the discussion reviewed the findings of the Working Group I report, based on the short summary of the report Where is Climate Change Taking Us? which includes the report's headline statements. Arthur Dahl's commentary about the report "There Is No Doubt Left – We Must Act Now" further stimulated the discussion. It is on the website of the Global Governance Forum https://globalgovernanceforum.org/there-is-no-doubt-left-we-must-act-no…
Since webinar discussions are not recorded, Christine Muller prepared the following report.
IEF August 2021 Webinar Discussion
Summary and Commentary by IEF Member Christine Muller
The August IEF webinar discussed the recently released 6th Assessment Report of the Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These discussions are not recorded, so here is a brief summary and commentary for all those who have missed it.
There were 20 participants coming from Zimbabwe, USA, Switzerland, Iran, France (Corsica), China, and Canada.
We started the gathering with watching a 2 minute video which you can find here when you scroll down a little: https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-qa-the-ipccs-sixth-assessment-repo…. By the way, the information which this link provides about the recent IPCC AR6 WG1 is one of the very best and I can warmly recommend it!
It is impossible to convey all the topics that were covered in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Here are my recollections and thoughts about three subjects discussed:
The discussion started off with the huge problem of water scarcity in many areas of the world. It was pointed out that, in addition to climate change, water mismanagement is a huge problem, such as the diversion of water for irrigation of unsustainable crops which contributed to the shrinking of lake Urmia in Iran, and the depletion of aquifers, many of them not replenishable. Lack of knowledge/education as well as corruption have played a major role in that water crisis. Our participant from Iran emphasized that we cannot separate climate change from other environmental and social problems. They are all interconnected. Therefore, we need to address these issues in a holistic way. We may want to add here that the holistic approach also needs to be used in efforts for adaptation – such as measures to improve living conditions in drought stricken areas – and mitigation which aims to reduce carbon emissions or improves carbon sinks. Our participant from Zimbabwe addressed this with the idea of tree planting to help save water and also to respond to climate change, something which is already being pursued in some areas, but will certainly be beneficial in many more places.
One participant elaborated how materialism is the underlying cause of climate change and environmental destruction in general. He pointed out that 'Abdu'l-Bahá led a life of voluntary simplicity. Another participant observed that several studies have proven that a consumer lifestyle does not make us happy. Writing this just reminded me of the words of the Universal House of Justice:
At all times, contentment and moderation, benevolence and fellow feeling, sacrifice and reliance on the Almighty are qualities that befit the God-fearing soul.
The forces of materialism promote a quite contrary line of thinking: that happiness comes from constant acquisition, that the more one has the better, that worry for the environment is for another day. These seductive messages fuel an increasingly entrenched sense of personal entitlement, which uses the language of justice and rights to disguise self-interest. Indifference to the hardship experienced by others becomes commonplace while entertainment and distracting amusements are voraciously consumed. The enervating influence of materialism seeps into every culture, and all Bahá’ís recognize that, unless they strive to remain conscious of its effects, they may to one degree or another unwittingly adopt its ways of seeing the world. (Universal House of Justice 1 March 2017 – To the Bahá’ís of the World)
A participant brought the 29 Nov 2017 letter of the Universal House of Justice to our attention. The letter was a response to three individuals who questioned climate science and can serve as a wonderful example of how we can engage in a conversation with people who share a very different view. It starts by acknowledging their sincere intention and establishes common ground. Then it gently explains: “One of the most pressing problems of humanity in the current century is how a growing, rapidly developing, and not yet united global population can, in a just manner, live in harmony with the planet and its finite resources. … It is essential, therefore, that Bahá’ís contribute to thought and action regarding such matters.”
The Universal House of Justice then devotes a whole paragraph to the importance of science and states that there is a “striking degree of agreement among experts in relevant fields about the cause and impact of climate change.”
In the discussion, a participant observed that we are all on a path of becoming increasingly more aware, more knowledgeable about climate change, other environmental problems, and the dire state of our world. Respecting that environmental awareness varies greatly in good people from all backgrounds is a good foundation for unity. Another participant pointed to a quote in the same letter of the Universal House of Justice: "Even when there is agreement on some underlying facts, there may be a diversity of views about what to do in response to those facts". We accept the science and the need to act, but what those actions should be needs to reflect local realities and situations, which vary greatly.
A participant brought to our attention that “science, the laws of nature, and environmental issues are based in facts on how the earth operates. There are no 'politics', 'sides' or 'opinions.'” Spreading the truth that we cannot change the laws of Physics and that climate change should be a non-partisan issue may contribute to raising our collective understanding. Climate change is a matter of science and ethics and requires unified action from the local to the international level!
The discussion reminded me of the huge task in front of us: Continue to educate ourselves about climate change and how to address it with spiritual principles and a holistic approach, and to boldly share this knowledge and speak up for truth, justice, and climate action because we are in a planetary emergency as the recent IPCC report clearly documents.
The Full IPCC Working Group I Report is here: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/
Webinar discussions are not recorded, but recordings of Past Webinar Lectures are at https://tinyurl.com/7p09o73q
Last updated 30 August 2021