Dr Barbara Maas, Head, International Species Conservation, NABU International Foundation for Nature, and Secretary, IBC Standing Committee on Environment & Conservation, speaking at the ‘Samvad – Global Hindu-Buddhist Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environmental Consciousness’ in New Delhi, said “There is still time to slow the pace of climate change and limit its impacts, but to do so, the Paris summit will need to put us on a path to phase out fossil fuels.
We must ensure the protection of the most vulnerable, through visionary and comprehensive mitigation and adaptation measures. “Our concern is founded on the Buddha’s realisation of dependent coarising, which interconnects all things in the universe. Understanding this interconnected causality and the consequences of our actions are critical steps in reducing our environmental impact. Cultivating the insight of inter-being and compassion, we will be able to act out of love, not fear, to protect our planet. “Buddhist leaders have been speaking about this for decades.
However, everyday life can easily lead us to forget that our lives are inextricably interwoven with the natural world through every breath we take, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Through our lack of insight, we are destroying the very life support systems that we and all other living beings depend on for survival. “We believe it imperative that the global Buddhist community recognise both our dependence on one another as well as on the natural world.
Together, humanity must act on the root causes of this environmental crisis, which is driven by our use of fossil fuels, unsustainable consumption patterns, lack of awareness, and lack of concern about the consequences of our actions. “Will we be able to maintain yields in a world that is facing potentially significant environmental change? Soil is running out. Or, rather, it is running away. Intensive agriculture which plants crops on fields without respite leads to soil erosion.
This can be offset by using more fertiliser, but there comes a point where the soil is so eroded that farming there becomes very limited, and it will take many years for such soils to recover. “The estimated level of resources and ecosystem services required to support human activities today is just over 1.6 Earths. Since 1961, the first year consistent United Nations statistics were available, humanity’s demand on resources has gone from being within the means of what nature could support to significantly over budget.
Our planet went into global overshoot in the early 1970s. “Buddhism offers a truly unique way of approaching life and by focussing not just on ‘Me, Me, Me’, but by being inclusive and spending love on everybody. The challenge is to rise above our primitive biological programming. “We have constructed a system we can’t control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims.
We have created a society in which the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, and in which we are so caught up in our own immediate problems that we cannot afford to be aware of what is going on with the rest of the human family or our planet Earth. In my mind I see a group of chickens in a cage disputing over a few seeds of grain, unaware that in a few hours they will all be killed. “If humans don’t change there will be chaos, famine and misery on a scale never witnessed before. Social upheaval and violence will lead to collapsing civilisations.
There’ll be wars over resources such as oil, water, arable land, access to food, etc., and conflicts over migration, diseases outbreaks and famine, droughts, superstorms. We have even altered our planet’s climate and the chemistry of the oceans. “Politicians, spiritual leaders, educators, consumers, businesses and corporates, and media will need to show some brave leadership instead of following business as usual. “Strong leadership is the need of the hour. Organisations and governments need to walk the talk!” she said.
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