There should be no question that the question posed by next week’s Kamloops Philosopher’s Café represents the most profoundly important dilemma confronting the world.
The problem is humanity has not responded in ways that correspond to the magnitude of the threat.
The question: In the face of overwhelming evidence on the need to take urgent action on global warming, why do we do nothing?
Kamloops 350, a climate-action group, proposed the question to the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, which hosts the monthly philosophical discussions. They invite the public to wade in next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Smorgasbord Deli at Seventh and Victoria.
Gisela Ruckert, a 350 member, said the idea is to focus on the human reaction, or lack of it, rather than fixating on climate change or its causes.
“We accept that,” Ruckert said. “Why are we doing nothing in the face of overwhelming evidence?”
Penny Powers, who will lead the discussion with a short talk, feels the café is well-suited to the perplexing state of affairs. A retired TRU nursing professor, Powers did her PhD dissertation on the effects of climate change on health and later taught a course on the topic.
“It is baffling,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having, I hope, active participation in a discussion about the lack of action on climate change given the incredible information we now have.” That includes the most recent International Panel on Climate Change report, which is conservative in nature due to the political structure of the organization, she added.
When the panel met in Stockholm two weeks ago, it used the strongest words yet on the issue, calling man-made warming “extremely likely.”
“This is yet another wakeup call: Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in response.
What has changed in the last decade is a much greater awareness of the problem, driven in part by more compelling documentation, such as the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, more conclusive science and extreme weather phenomena — hurricane Sandy, the Alberta floods and Colorado wildfires to name but a few.
With that knowledge, however, comes a moral obligation to act decisively upon it, since the only alternative — doing nothing — is untenable. Few are willing to go out on a limb, however, by putting the widespread evidence together and making solid predictions, Powers noted.
“I want people’s guesses as to what’s going on.”
Is it short-term thinking? Outright denial? Economic expedience?
“That’s the philosophical question.”
Kamloops 350 also hopes to provoke discussion on how to bring about change, both on a personal and policy level.