We give our children loving care, but it makes no sense to do so unless we do everything in our power to give them a future world in which they can survive. We also have a duty to our grandchildren, and to all future generations.
Today we are faced with the threat of anenvironmental megacatastrophe, of which the danger of catastrophic climate change is a part. We also face the threat of an all-destroying nuclear war.
Finally, because of population growth, the effect of climate change on agriculture, and the end of the fossil fuel era, there is a danger that by the middle of the present century a very large-scale famine could take the lives of as many as a billion people.
We owe it to our children to take urgent action to prevent these threats from becoming future realities. We must also act with dedication to save our children from other social ills that currently prevent their lives from developing in a happy and optimal way, for example child labour, child slavery, starvation, preventable disease and lack of education. These, too, are threats to our children's future.
The climate emergency: Urgent action is needed
The annual Emissions Gap report from the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP), released on November 26, 2019, warned that nations' commitments under the Paris climate accord – from which U.S. President Donald Trump began formally withdrawing this month - are not nearly sufficient to bring about the widespread changes needed to avert climate catastrophe.
The report stated that global temperatures are on track to rise as much as 3.2°C by the end of the century, meaning only drastic and unprecedented emissions reductions can stave off the most devastating consequences of the climate crisis. What is needed, according to the report, is a complete halt in the production of fossil fuels.
Renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels, so the transition to renewables could be driven by economic forces alone if governments worldwide would stop their sponsorship of fossil fuel industries,to which they currently give enormous tax benefits and other subsidies.
Other urgently needed actions are a halt to deforestation, combined with massive reforestation, substitution of other building materials for cement, better climate coverage in the mass media, abandonment of growth-oriented economic goals, shift to more plant-based diet, and deep cuts in military activities.
We must rid the world of nuclear weapons
A Treaty banning nuclear weapons was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote on the floor of the UN General Assembly, following the precedent set by the Arms Trade Treaty. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was passed on 7 July, 2017. It prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities. For nuclear armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons programme.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) campaigned vigorously for the adoption of the Treaty, and was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts. Although bitterly opposed by nuclear weapons states, the Treaty has great normative value, and one fervently hopes that the force of public opinion will eventually force all governments to give their citizens what the vast majority long for: a nuclear-weapon-free world.
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