Ethical priorities to help ease climate change
Professor Agni Vlavianos Arvanitis President and Founder, Biopolitics International Organisation and Hellenic Chapter of the Club of Rome Fellow, World Academy of Art and ScienceThe impacts of climate change will become more and more dangerous as the world is getting warmer and policies fail to keep pace, unless society takes urgent steps to increase climate resilience through bold and timely action. Biopolicy – the vehicle through which the Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O.) informs and inspires people everywhere to take urgent and concerted action for climate change mitigation – offers new tools and opportunities that can facilitate planning and decision-making processes and lead society to a harmonious future. Climate change slows down economic growth, diminishes food security and hinders efforts at poverty reduction, as the world’s poorest areas are hit the hardest. Climate change also worsens inequalities and might stall or even erase years of progress for the developing world.
But the developed world is also at risk, as climate change has major social, health, and infrastructure effects. In order not to undermine our prospects for a climate resilient future, we need to simultaneously address the issues of global warming, global inequality and poverty, and the necessity for institutional and structural change.
Climate change also has a strong ethical component, and mitigation policies will succeed or fail by the everyday actions of empowered and capable individuals, communities and countries. Resources are limited and we keep exploiting them carelessly, yet curtailing climate change requires immediate action since arrogance and tensions lead to wrong choices. The time is ripe to break away from systems and policies of the past, where divide-and-rule was considered a smart approach, and to get world leaders to unite in a common vision.
Education and the tools of modern technology provide unlimited possibilities for a new society of hope, but if we allow destruction to prevail, we overstep our boundaries. We need to take full advantage of the positive dimensions of technological innovation and apply critical thinking in order to select the elements of progress that improve the quality of the environment, support life, and enhance international collaboration and understanding. Managing the complex effects and impacts of climate change requires inputs from all sectors of government and civil society, collaboration between academic disciplines, and new ways of international cooperation in order to prepare individuals and communities worldwide to respond to growing climate threats.
In this framework, climate policies can do more than ensure a climate- resilient and sustainable economic future. They can also become opportunities to develop more just and ethical societies. The global causes, consequences and costs of responding to climate change are making it clear that nations must begin to
balance short-term national selfinterest with a greater sense of
our universal responsibilities nas human beings on this planet. Lengthy international climate agreements that set ambitions targets are not enough. The climate change crisis demands that decision-makers move beyond
their comfort zone and assume greater responsibility and action.
The most crucial task is to listen to the ticking clock and save time by mobilizing resources and inspiring leadership with a vision. Mobilizing the arts. If we ignore the arts sector in our efforts to limit further damage
to bios, we leave out a substantial percentage of human capital and creativity, so crucial to the building of a new society of hope. It we wish to see the ballet of the unfolding of the DNA’s double helix or listen to the beating motion of microscopic cilia, the time is ripe to recognize the beauty and wonders of the microcosmos, the world of cells and molecules. We can appreciate the cell as a perfect model for clean energy production, waste removal, and synthesis of complex proteins, which can make the difference between health and disease.
The microcosmos is a source of joy for the informed biomedical scientist working at the forefront of research, but the artist can also be inspired by this amazing unseen world. New designs in textiles and jewelry, new musical compositions, theatre, photography, poetry and literature, every form of artistic expression can draw new motivation from the intricate functions of the billions of life processes taking place in a single cell in a 24-hour period. The cooperation of techne and technology in the appreciation of the microcosmos can position the arts as a driver in climate change mitigation and the race for a brighter future. Empowering citizens We possess the wealth and the potential to build a society of hope, yet we are choosing destruction.
Biopolicy stresses the urgency of developing new tools for protecting and saving bios, especially in view of the threats of climate change. It is urgent to convert our thinking and action into the real profit for every individual on our planet with respect to promoting the interdependence among all forms of life.
Our collective responsibility towards bios necessitates policies that infuse an environmental ethic. International cooperation, based on the common vision of our interdependence with all living beings, can urge us to restrain the pendulum of destruction and consider that humanity is part of the overall body of bios. However, the most essential part of this responsibility remains the parameter of time. If we waste another minute, then we are ethically accountable for the damages and problems we delegate to future generations.
How can we influence our leaders to act now to prevent further destruction? How can we reach every sector, be it government, industry, academia, the arts, civil society? Are we ready to understand that differences
in culture, language and religion are the wealth of society that needs to be protected, or will we keep seeing these differences as threats? How can providing more information on climate change really make a difference to our willingness to act?
In the face of these critical challenges, the need for thoughtful engagement of every individual has grown increasingly urgent. Biopolicy encompasses all disciplines – the sciences, technology, policy, literature and the
arts – and can act as a beacon of values and light. We need to involve the wisdom of all these fields in order to gain insight and catalyze change. In B.I.O., we are committed to bringing about this new vision and to act
as a lever to lift the spirit of the world by:
• promoting a better understanding of how climate change affects the environment, the economy and the quality of life of all citizens
• securing global cooperation for climate change mitigation as our primary ethical responsibility
• raising awareness of the causes and ways of limiting global warming, extreme weather and natural disasters, land use, agriculture and forestry, impacts on health and food security, and impacts on oceans, natural resources and biodiversity
• increasing insight in strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation
• enhancing appreciation of the potential of integrating sustainability principles in the formulation and timely implementation global economic and energy policy
• stressing the cooperation of techne – the arts – and technology as an inspirational tool to involve every citizen in the protection of bios.