BHS Talk (conclusion)
As outlandish as it sounds, I do believe this kind of project could even provide the platform for a new and proactive era of global peace. This is, after all, the only issue that affects every single country on the planet.
The key to our civilized survival lies in an enhanced sense of community. If we maintain the fiction that we can thrive as isolated individuals, we will find ourselves at the same emotional dead-end as the current crop of survivalists: an existence marked by defensiveness, mistrust, suspicion and fear.
Our real survival will depend increasingly on our willingness to join together as a global community. As a former Argentine climate negotiator said: "We are all . . . in the same boat – and there's no way half the boat is going to sink."
To keep ourselves afloat, I think it is critical that we elevate the ethic of cooperation over the deeply ingrained reflex of competition. We need to emphasize our biological similarities over our geographical differences. We need to recognize our common humanness to prepare together for a very difficult future. Finally, we need to realize that nature is giving us an unprecedented opportunity for a new beginning for the human enterprise – in short, one more chance to finally get it right.
If you let yourself be paralyzed by fear, then you will be forfeiting your sense of future – as well as your responsibilities as citizens of the global community.
But if you view the climate crisis as the overriding challenge of your generation, it leaves you with two tasks – one to finish and one to begin.
If you put your efforts into rewiring the world with clean energy, you will win that battle. The trends are in your favor. And if, in the process, you can take back some of the political power of the coal and oil industries, that will give you the kind of empowerment that is critical to your second task – which is helping create a new kind of society out of the rubble.
You will encounter some chaos and some breakdowns in the future. Some may be frightening. But it is precisely those breakdowns that will create the space for people who can help reconstruct a society which is truly based on principles of social justice. The crisis will be giving you the opportunity to help shape a global society in which exploitation is replaced by much more equality between rich and poor, in which of all the planet’s inhabitants have the right to participate in a truly democratized world and, ultimately, in laying the groundwork for a whole new era of peace – peace among people and peace between people and nature.
But do remember this. You will be pioneers at the leading edge of history. But you will also be flying blind. There is no body of expertise -- no authoritative answers -- for this challenge. We are crossing a threshold into uncharted territory. And since there is no precedent to guide us, we are left with only our own hearts to consult, whatever courage we can muster, the intellectual integrity to look reality in the eye and an uncompromising dedication to a human future that reflects the combined hopes and ideals of every single person in this room.
-- Ross Gelbspan (2009)