Today, I am participating in a 24-hour fast in response to climate change. My primary motivation is to gain a more immediate understanding of what climate change is likely to mean for many people: namely, difficulty in securing adequate supplies of food.
International and intergenerational justice are the most difficult elements of the climate change problem to address. While the moral requirements involved are generally fairly clear, the motivation to sacrifice is nearly always absent. Perhaps re-framing the issue can help, to some extent. For instance:
Even in an emergency one pawns the jewelery before selling the blankets. . . . Whatever justice may positively require, it does not permit that poor nations be told to sell their blankets [compromise their development strategies] in order that the rich nations keep their jewelery [continue their unsustainable lifestyles]. (Shue 1992, p. 397; quoted by Grubb 1995, p. 478)
If such arguments become commonly accepted, perhaps the moral unacceptability of inaction – and of recalcitrant and half-hearted action – will become more widely acted upon.
I don’t think I have ever gone 24 hours without eating before, so wish me luck.
[Update: noon] The easy half is done: six hours of sleep and a missed breakfast. This would normally be my lunch break. Now, I have five more hours to get through at work, followed by seven more at home.
[Update: midnight] Based on my original criteria, this has not been terribly successful. It was unpleasant to not eat for 24 hours, but it wasn’t enlightening in any way. I don’t think I am any more or less compelled to help address the problem of climate change than I was before. Hopefully, some kind of deeper memory formed about the connection between abstract causes and concrete consequences.