We are living at a time of unprecedented biophysical crisis. Human civilisation is facing a perfect storm of problems driven by climate change, environmental destruction and pollution, biodiversity loss and resource depletion, all of which are intensifying global socio-economic and regional problems.
Two centuries of exploitation of readily accessible energy resources have facilitated a population explosion and driven ongoing land clearing and exploitation to satisfy ever-growing human consumption. Land and water resources, including waterways and marine environments have been degraded and polluted. Biodiversity loss, both terrestrial and marine, has accelerated due to over-harvesting and loss of natural habitat compounded by climate change. This loss is threatening to collapse the very ecosystem services on which all life depends.
Entrenched inequalities worldwide are rising, feeding social alienation, political upheavals, the growth of fundamentalism and an escalating refugee crisis. Climate change is hitting the have-nots hardest and will amplify social and political unrest.
Climate change and population movements are also producing new threats of global epidemics. Threats of war over increasingly scarce, sought-after resources, are likely to intensify.
The ruling political philosophy is built on the erroneous belief in infinite growth on a finite planet. This blind belief, which underpins neo-liberal globalisation, is at the core of the biophysical crisis that confronts us. The challenge besetting all progressive movements today is to find a common path to confront this global crisis.*
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society places itself amongst progressive voices globally, striving for peace and social justice for all of humanity. Today, the progressive vision has inevitably become entwined with environmentalism. A holistic progressive vision recognises that social goals cannot be achieved in a world threatened by climate catastrophe and environmental destruction.
The need to restore the health of the biosphere and the stability of the climate system has become an integral part of the progressive struggle. Furthermore, the struggle to attain vital environmental goals can only be realised through the adoption of new economic and social paradigms based on ecological sustainability.
The proposition that nuclear energy is a clean and safe alternative to coal must be rejected outright as a false claim leading to a myriad of problems along the nuclear fuel cycle.
Climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately impact already disadvantaged peoples and those whose lives are directly tied to the land.
A viable future for humanity is predicated on building sustainable systems that respect the natural world and exist within its bounds but crosses borders.
What we do
* This Background is drawn from the paper, Environment and development challenges: The imperative to act. Bruntland and Ehrlich et al (2012). International Institute of Environment and Development, and International Union for the Conservation of Nature,Conservation International
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