Climate change can and should act as a catalyst for social change. If we don’t adapt as societies to the new demands of the environment, part of the population will perish in catastrophes that are becoming more frequent and more serious than anything we have seen before in the history of our species.
Social climate change
We have created weapons, tools and a plethora of technological levers with the power of geological forces, and that are capable of overturning the macroequilibria created by the biosphere on a planetary level over millions of years. We cannot continue behaving like tribes at the orders of despots. If we continue to accept tribal dogma, primitive thinking, the sacrifice of the best, and implicit authoritarianism, we will be consenting to the assassination of our species and the suicide of civilization itself. We have must overcome our past once and for all, and build not a mosaic of self-contained countries, but a highly interconnected globalized and computerized world that metamorphically quashes our carnivorous biology and totemic atavism. A world where the paramount values are information, diversity and sustainability. This implies fluid, permanent and traumatic –but far-reaching– social change. For the time being we are failing in this aim.
And we have to do this against a backdrop of the new behavior by the atmosphere, ocean and biosphere brought about by climate change. Now we have to build and dismantle the world to the best of our abilities using our prospective mind, focusing on the facts through a global and fluid parliamentarism that requires the wholehearted acceptance of social change and world interrelations, conducted in a spirit of much greater wisdom. We must become socially wiser if we are not to perish en masse, victims of our own intelligence, in a collective disorder that seeks to tame itself through the arrogance of individuals. “Give me a lever and I will move the world”. That’s all well and good, Archimedes, but watch where you’re putting your lever, and don’t destroy your point of support.
Globalization vs tribe
What are we building? A global tribalism or an anti-tribal globalism? What are we building? Myths? Are we reconstructing our past or our civility, projecting hopes? Our collective endeavor is today more anarchic than rational, because what we are clumsily trying to do is to remake our local tribalism, but amplified to a planetary scope. And that would be a serious error of scale. We should apply the dialectic principles of Hegel, one of which states that “quantitative changes determine qualitative changes and vice versa” (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1977). P henomenology of Spirit. Clarendon Press). It is not a matter of seeking to behave now in countries-continents in the same way we sometimes set out to act in the tribe, the city-state, kingdoms, empires and countries in the past. Now, the demographic explosion has made us part of a much larger mass of humankind, inhabiting vast territories with unified laws and a certain sense of belonging. These entities cannot cultivate internally the same territorial, cannibalistic and hierarchical models of behavior –among others– that originally led to our becoming ordered in herds. That biological hangover is a formula that will guarantee conflict and mutual destruction for all these masses of humankinds. There has to be a re-foundation, a metamorphosis, in which we leave the beast we once were deep inside and behind us. A new butterfly will be born, another Being, based a little more on the divine and not so much on the biological aspect of our make-up.
Science and conscience
The reader may suspect this article is heading in the direction of faith, and not towards science. But science does not go far enough. We need sublimation –belief as well as science. When we see warriors dancing around the totem, but carrying portfolios with red buttons instead of axes, we understand we have to undertake a human re-foundation, and stop demanding blood to oil the creaking mechanisms of the engine of civilization. That would mean we were nothing more than a mistake, a sigh among the stars.
The main drivers of change are technology and pedagogy. The first is inherently neither good or bad –everything depends on the rider. Technology has become the most dynamizing factor in the world –the World in the sense that we human beings understand it, as what we ourselves have made of planet Earth. We have advanced in our understanding of it –such vast numbers of humans thinking and traveling all its paths… But the world is not understood in terms of our mother tongue, nor the place of our birth, nor the familiarities of our homeland, nor within the limits of our monkey brains that relay a part of the information. The world is understood when our education points us in the right direction, towards learning and information –not towards dis-information–, and when at an early age an individual comes across a teacher who opens windows, rather than pen-pushers who only close doors. The world is understood when our teacher saves us from serious tumbles, when as individuals we then take our first faltering steps through bilingualism, then burble through multilingualism, travel widely, enjoy Internet just a click away, and adopt different latitudinal angles of observation and cast off the moorings of our attachment to our own little village… That way we can prevent our thoughts from becoming confined by borders, countries, specializations, and more.
The world is understood by each person with their burden, but all traveling along a multicultural and multilingual path, and all with the extensive capacity of the various parts of our brains to accumulate, process and convey knowledge, not just information.
We have discussed a cultural evolution full of technology, after suppressing our biology, but also seeking the roots of our heritage. Can we say we’ve succeeded?
A final reflection
Climate change is knocking at the door. It should not be opened by a clothed, hairless, perfumed skyscraper-building monkey that has been carefully trained to conceal that his main aim is not to be kind, but to have missiles. And as he enters the hallway to respond to the call, his only concern is to hide his portfolio with the red buttons behind the door.
But climate change will not be fooled by anybody. It will find a way in –somehow– through any crack in the window. We must receive it like our new lodger. The bolt should be gently drawn back by a human being who has at least taken some small steps closer to the Being.