Last week, the UN released a report on an impending global crisis that has been described as climate genocide. Assuming that current trends continue, according to this report, atmospheric temperatures will be high enough in as little as 12 years to kill off hundreds of millions of people, disrupt the world's food supply, destroy all of the world's coral reefs, and set off a chain of global heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and floods the likes of which the Earth has rarely seen. And that may be the best-case scenario. We are on pace for a temperature rise by the end of this century that would put civilization at stake.
With this report, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is sounding an alarm. And how has the world responded? So far, it has been business as usual. Not a single world leader has declared a state of emergency. Not a single corporation has re-examined its current business model. In the U.S, our President proudly denied the reality of climate change on national television while one comedian joked that he is "willing to do absolutely nothing about it" because the problem is essentially too big for him to care about or grasp.
So, it would seem that the response to the UN report is to ignore future consequences and live "like there's no tomorrow." But that is not what we are doing. Most of us are busy planning for our future, including our career, family, education, and retirement. We are also doing our best to distract ourselves with movies, sports, TV, social media, video games, and myriad other forms of entertainment. Any of these arts can draw our attention into the present moment, but more often than not, they help us tune things out.
If we really responded to climate change--not to mention all of the other global crises we face--by living like there's no tomorrow, that could be an extremely positive outcome. "Imagine all the people living for today," wrote John Lennon. I have always been able to imagine that. For example, I know that all major creative breakthroughs come out of intense experiences of the present moment. As I have described in Deep Creativity, this has been the case throughout history. Effective solutions to the climate crisis will emerge from moments of creative inspiration, as has every other important discovery. I believe so much in the power of creative inspiration that in the last two years, I have traveled the world sharing ways to develop and nurture that inspiration.
Even if Al Gore was right in his assessment that we are now living in an "age of consequences" rather than an "age of action"--that in spite of our best efforts, climate change will have a major impact on all of us--our ability to live like there's no tomorrow really matters. Today becomes that much more important when we know there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. If enough of us make the commitment to live in the present, everything changes. We become acutely aware of the precious gifts that fill our lives, including other people, plants and animals, natural beauty, and the abundance of food and other resources that may not always be there for us. Do not take a single thing for granted, my friends. If we had any doubts before, the UN climate report reminds us that nothing in our lives is a given, and that in a single natural or man-made catastrophe, it can all be taken away. This awareness that everything in our lives is impermanent gives the present moment a greater sense of urgency. Let's immerse ourselves in the present moment to the fullest!
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