COP28 is finishing and once again it’s been a “Blah, Blah, Blah” event. All talk and no action, whilst humanity is carving its own suicide. War, internal crises and economic inequality has meant that politicians are captured by elite interests and we have little time to see beyond our human short-term challenges and anxieties.
For young people this is a scary future. Previous generations have plundered at will and society has not checked the giant and coldly calculating economic science and engine which has led us to such a disaster. Animals and Nature have long been left out of the equations, and consumed and destroyed at human will. They only matter now because our very survival is at stake.
It is therefore hopeful to see young people seeking alternative careers whether in the arts, in education or even in finance. Many simply do not want to be part of an unequal, unethical and destructive system, even if this means sacrificing their salaries or material prosperity. It does not matter how small or local their action, the ripples can go far and wide.
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As an example, Serena Shah who is an accountant by training recently gave a talk entitled ‘Jainism & the Climate Crisis’ about the beauty of Jain wisdom in the environmental crisis. In it she examined the simple and austere life of a Jain nun to show how little water they use, with minimal consumption and zero greed, no use of vehicles for transport – a lifestyle which leaves the lightest footprint on the planet. To imagine that India gave birth to such wisdom thousands of years ago when there was no environmental crisis is difficult to comprehend. I doubt whether there was a single reference to Jain wisdom and science at COP28.
I admire leaders who inspire and encourage such young people and understand how they are trying to shape a better world. One of the key messages of sustainability is to leave the planet at least as good as how we inherited it. We need to seek out young people trying to do such work and encourage and support them positively and proactively.
Anand Mistry is another soul who is making great strides in educating young people about sustainability and the creative possibilities of living in harmony with nature. He is founder of Project Chakra and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation. Let us celebrate the Anands and Serenas of this world and encourage their ambitions. They take Dharma forward positively and create ripples of hope and transformation.
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