A Journal of Sustainable Human Development
Vol. 7, No. 1, January 2011|
Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor
Climate Change: A Test Case in Human Development
SUMMARY & OUTLINE
Christmas and the New Year festivities are over, and we are back to "business as usual." Happy New Year!
"Well, so that is that.|
Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes -
Some have got broken – and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week -
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted – quite unsuccessfully -
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep his word for long."
W. H. Auden,
Christmas Oratorio, 1944
Climate change is a test case in human development. Specifically, it is a test case in overcoming the homo economicus mentality and advancing to a homo solidarius mindset. The Copenhagen meeting (December 2009) and the recent Cancún meeting (December 2010) serve as objective evidence that humanity is not ready for stepping forward. It would be absurd to go looking for scapegoats: we are all responsible. The participants at those conferences represented 193 nations, the governments of those nations, and the homo economicus mentality of the vast majority of people in those nations. It is the mentality of "money talks," whereby everything is reduced to financial gain versus financial loss irrespective of more important considerations such as human well-being and taking good care of the human habitat.
Auden's words quoted above are a good summary of the current situation. The developed nations want to keep growing in affluence regardless of environmental impacts; and the developing nations want to financial compensation for impacts suffered and for refraining to exploit whatever resources they still have in order to survive. Needless to say, any such compensation will never trickle to the poor people who are really suffering. The elites in the developing nations will administer the funds for the "common good." And the so-called "carbon market" is simply another device to keep the rich getting richer in both developed and developing nations: the developing nations giving credits to the developed nations to pollute even more in exchange for financial assistance to the elites in poor countries, which will lead to even more environmental misery for the poor everywhere.
The outline for this issue is as follows:
Page 1. Editorial Opinion ~ A Christmas Reflection on Being Human
This issue also includes updates of the following supplements:
Page 2. Envisioning a Sustainable World, by Donella H. Meadows
Page 3. The power to create a better world is already ours, by John Bunzl
Page 4. Rare Earths Diplomacy, by Sean Daly
Page 5. A Real Solution to Global Debt Crises, by Julia Dowling
Page 6. Flaws in Human Mentality: A few thoughts on the subject, by Copthorne Macdonald
Page 7. Sustainable Growth Is An Oxymoron, by
Rudy M. Baum
Page 8. Faith in service: What has gender got to do with it?, by Mariz Tadros
Page 9. What the New Human Development Index
tells us about Africa, by Francisco R. Rodriguez
Supplement 1: Advances in Sustainable Development, is a monthly snapshot of significant recent contributions to in-depth understanding of the sustainable development process in general and integral human development in particular. This supplement includes the following items:
1. Suggestions for Prayer, Study, and Action
2. News, Publications, Tools, and Conferences
3. Advances in Sustainable Development
4. Advances in Integral Human Development
5. Advances in Integrated Sustainable Development
6. Recently Launched Games and Simulation Tools
7. Visualizations of the Sustainable Development Process
8. Sustainable Development Modeling and Simulation
9. Sustainable Development and the International Community
Supplement 2: Directory of Sustainable Development Resources is an annotated directory of online resources on sustainable development and related issues. Links are provided to selected online content in the following categories:
1. Population and Human Development
2. Cultural, Social, and Security Issues
3. Financial, Economic, and Political Issues
4. Ecological Resources and Ecosystem Services
5. Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy Sources
6. Pollution, Climate Change, and Environmental Management
7. Land, Agriculture, Food Supply, and Water Supply
8. Current Outlook for the Planet and Human Civilization
9. Transition from Consumerism to Sustainability
Supplement 3: Sustainable Development Simulation (SDSIM) - General Description is the documentation and user's guide for SDSIM Version 1.4, organized as follows:
1. The Sustainable Development Paradox
2. Sustainable Development Simulation Scenarios
3. SDSIM Version 1.4 Causal Loop Diagram
4. SDSIM Version 1.4 Model Diagram
5. SDSIM Version 1.4 Mathematical Formulation
6. SDSIM Version 1.4 User Interface
7. SDSIM Version 1.4 Simulation Results
8. SDSIM Version 1.4 Comparative Analysis & Synthesis
9. SDSIM Version 1.4 Limitations & Pending Issues
Note: SDSIM Version 1.4 is still WORK IN PROGRESS. This version should be
finalized February 2011, and integrates the UNESCO "Education for Sustainable
Development" stimuli as exogenous inputs to reinforce human support for both
mitigation and adaptation policies.
Supplement 4: Budapest Call for Climate Justice, World Council of Churches, 12 November 2010.
A Christmas Reflection on Being Human
"What is humanity that you are mindful of them,|
human beings that you care for them?"
"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and|
in favor with God and people."
Being human is a prerequisite for human development. However, being born of human parents does not guarantee that the human person will attain full development as a human being. Being homo sapiens is necessary but not sufficient to attain full human potential. Being born human is but the beginning of a process toward becoming fully human, and this entails internalizing basic human values that lead to acting in a human way. As Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist Roger Sperry has pointed out, "More than any other causal system with which science now concerns itself, it is variables in human value systems that will determine the future." It is self-evident that this applies to the future transition from consumerism to sustainability and climate stability.
In the Christian tradition, Jesus of Nazareth is the best model of what it means to be human and become fully human. In thirty years or so, the Human Child of Bethlehem grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52) and was ready to find himself by giving himself away during his brief mission on earth. For Christians, Jesus is 100% human and 100% divine, but this reflection will focus on his development as a Human Being ("Son of Man") and his desire for all human beings to attain full human development irrespective of cultural constraints and individual personalities; for every human life unfolds within concrete boundaries of time and space, yet every human being is unique. Readers from other cultural and religious traditions are respectfully invited to read on with an open mind.
In the oldest threads of Christian tradition (e.g., the Gospel of Mark) Jesus generally identifies himself as the "Son of Man," which means "Human Being." Exalted titles such Messiah, Christ, and Son of God were attributed to him later, after the public ministry that culminated in Calvary. His mission on earth, while limited to the people of Israel and cut short after three years at the instigation of the local religious authorities, was to proclaim the advent of the "Reign of God" as an interior reality devoid of any shadow for domination and discrimination. His was a message of total and unconditional inclusivity for those who recognize that they were spiritually sick. He never presumed to be "infallible." He made mistakes, and often had to choose between the lesser of two evils. He never imposed his message on anyone, and healed only those who asked for healing. He shared his power with his disciples while admonishing them to never use such powers for purposes of domination. Humanly speaking, the only "revolutionary" thing about him was his radical renunciation of lex talionis and his equally radical commitment to nonviolence. This was precisely what drove the temple priests nuts, to the point in which they instigated their execution as a criminal at the hands of the "superpower" of the time, i.e., the Roman empire.
It should be stressed that Jesus understood his mission on earth as being limited to the people of Israel. Within this boundary, he never excluded anyone from his friendship, and even from discipleship and full sharing in his mission. In a rigidly patriarchal society, he was a male and selected twelve male apostles to represent the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28, Mark 10:37, Luke 22:30, Revelation 21:12-14). But his own masculinity, and the masculinity of the twelve apostles, were limitations of his earthly mission and there is no indication that such limitation should become normative forever. In fact, after she experienced the resurrection, Mary Magdalene is the first one sent as apostola apostolorum (Mark 16:7); and they, consistent with the prevailing view at the time that the witness of a woman is not to be trusted, refused to believe her (Mark 16:11). But they believed after experiencing the resurrection themselves, and were instructed to announce to Reign of God to all peoples with full power; a power that should always be used to open (never to close!) the doors of the Reign of God to all who wanted to enter (Mark 16:15-20).
At a time when UN Women is becoming operational, it is opportune to recognize that both secular and religious institutions must eradicate any practices that exclude women from roles of authority and responsibility. In particular, the exclusion of women from the ministerial priesthood in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, which is rationalized by a literalist interpretation of the selection of the twelve male apostles, is a nefarious policy that reinforces the patriarchal mentality worldwide and should mercifully come to an end. To insist that Jesus, here and now, would have selected twelve males to represent the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel is utterly irrational; therefore it cannot possibly be a matter of Christian faith, for religious faith may transcend reason but it cannot be irrational. Ignorance in matters of human sexuality is no justification for perpetuating a practice that harms human development in both men and women; for both men and women suffer when their mutual complementarity is degraded to mutual exclusion. In selecting twelve men to be his apostles, Jesus had to opt for the lesser evil within the confines of his earthly mission; but he was aware of the feminine polarity within his own masculinity (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34). To become aware of this feminine polarity in men, and masculine polarity in women, is a crucial step forward in becoming fully human.
In the UN Women web site, Michelle Bachelet is quoted as saying that "we are here to serve half the world." Not so. By pursuing the full human development of women, UN Women will contribute to the full human development of 100% of humanity, including both men and women. This integration of both masculine and feminine polarities (the animus and anima of Carl Jung) is indispensable for both men and women to become fully human. And, from the perspective of sustainable development, humans becoming fully human is more important than anything else. Economic systems come and go. Political systems come and go. Technological "breakthroughs" come and go. But, as long as homo economicus persists as the model of human behavior - indeed, as the model of being human - the propensity to discrimination, scapegoating, and violence remains as the crucial obstacle to genuine human progress. The many failures of organized religion notwithstanding, it may well be that Jesus of Nazareth, the Human Being who found himself by giving himself to others, is the best model for human development and social progress. His way of being fully human might be the one and only path toward a world of solidarity, sustainability, and climate stability. Who cares about social justice and climate change as long as short-term financial gain is the top priority?
Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with being homo economicus. What is wrong is to stagnate in that phase of human development. In Jesus of Nazareth we meet a Human Being who grew from an infant homo sapiens born in Bethlehem to become homo economicus as a humble and honest carpenter in Nazareth. Then he kept growing to become homo solidarius, the "Son of Man" who went around doing good (Acts 10:38). Eventually he reached the summit of being human as homo eucharisticus, willing to offer his life for the glory of God and the good of humanity. Very few people (the so-called "saints," such as Francis of Assisi and Thérèse of Lisieux) are known to have come close to being homo eucharisticus. There may be many others that we don't know about. But every human being can aspire to become homo solidarius at least to some degree. As we face the current economic and environmental crises, outgrowing homo economicus and becoming homo solidarius may be the only feasible path toward sustainable development.
How can we follow the straight and narrow path that leads from homo economicus to homo solidarius? Work for male-female balance and gender equality in all secular and religious institutions. Gender balance must include both authority and responsibility. A balance of fathering and mothering are needed in the family, in business, in government, in churches. The patriarchal hegemony of fathering has run its course in human history. Perhaps there is a reason why fathering images have been so prevalent in most religious traditions. In his beautiful novel, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, William Paul Young suggests a fascinating possibility. In response to a question about "why is there such an emphasis on [God] being a Father," [God] responds (page 96):
"Well, there are many reasons for that, and some of them go very deep. Let me say for now that we knew once the creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering. Don't misunderstand me, both are needed - but an emphasis on fathering is necessary because of the enormity of its absence."|
This certainly was the case 2000 years ago, 1000 years ago, even 100 years ago. But as we begin this new year 2011, humanity seems to be moving toward a tipping point after which overemphasis on fathering may no longer be necessary and may in fact be an obstacle to human development. Surely, the geographic distribution of this trend is uneven, with some regions advancing toward gender equality while some regions remain attached to the old patriarchal culture. A positive side effect of ICT and globalization might be to shorten the time required to attain gender balance. For those of us who recognize gender equality as a "sign of the times," this is a propitious time to overcome the resistance to cross-gender solidarity. Fostering gender equality is the most effective way to facilitate the transition from homo economicus to homo solidarius. At this point in human history, it is the most effective way to catalyze the transition from being human to being more human; as well as the transition from climate manipulation to climate justice.
Editor's Note: Readers from all cultures and religious traditions are respectfully invited to submit life stories of men and women who went around doing good. On the intersection of gender and climate justice, see the Global Gender and Climate Change Alliance (GGCA).|
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