The Time to Act is Now

We invite you to join us, by signing your name, to demand immediate climate action at COP21 (21st Conference of Parties) in Paris at the end of this year.

Together, with over 5000 Buddhist practitioners, and significant leaders such as the Dalai Lama, the Karmarpa, and Thich Nhat Hanh, we are presenting The Time to Act is Now, A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change, co-authored by David Loy, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and John Stanley. The declaration, authored in 2009 and updated in 2015, represents a global Buddhist statement and will be presented under the name, “Global Buddhist Climate Change Collective” on November 28th in Paris when there will a ceremony of all faith based petitions. The total number of signatures may be in the millions.

With your help, a Buddhist presence can be strongly represented. Thank you for adding your voice at this critical moment in time.
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The Time to Act is Now

A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change


Today we live in a time of great crisis, confronted by the gravest challenge that humanity has ever faced: the ecological consequences of our own collective karma. The scientific consensus is overwhelming: human activity is triggering environmental breakdown on a planetary scale. Global warming, in particular, is happening much faster than previously predicted, most obviously at the North Pole. For hundreds of thousands of years, the Arctic Ocean has been covered by an area of sea-ice as large as Australia—but now this is melting rapidly. In 2014 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast that the Arctic may be free of summer sea ice by mid-century. Other senior scientists consider this may happen within a decade.

Glaciers all over the world are also receding quickly. If current economic policies continue, the glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau, source of the great rivers that provide water for billions of people in Asia, are likely to disappear by mid-century. Severe droughts and crop failures are already affecting many countries. Major reports—from the IPCC, United Nations, European Union, and International Union for Conservation of Nature—agree that, without a collective change of direction, dwindling supplies of water, food and other resources could create widespread famine conditions, resource battles, and mass migration by mid-century—by 2030, according to the U.K.’s chief scientific advisor.

Global warming plays a major role in other ecological crises, including the loss of many plant and animal species that share this Earth with us. Oceanographers report that half the carbon released by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the oceans, increasing their acidity by about 30%. Acidification is disrupting calcification of shells and coral reefs, as well as threatening plankton growth, the source of the food chain for most life in the sea.

Eminent biologists and U.N. reports concur that “business-as-usual” will drive half of all species on Earth to extinction within this century. Collectively, we are violating the first precept—“do not harm living beings”—on the largest possible scale. And we cannot foresee the biological consequences for human life when so many species that invisibly contribute to our own well-being vanish from the planet.

Many scientists have concluded that the survival of human civilization is at stake. We have reached a critical juncture in our biological and social evolution. There has never been a more important time in history to bring the resources of Buddhism to bear on behalf of all living beings. The four noble truths provide a framework for diagnosing our current situation and formulating appropriate guidelines—because the threats and disasters we face ultimately stem from the human mind, and therefore require profound changes within our minds. If personal suffering stems from craving and ignorance—from the three poisons of greed, ill will, and delusion—the same applies to the suffering that afflicts us on a collective scale. Our ecological emergency is a larger version of the perennial human predicament. Both as individuals and as a species, we suffer from a sense of self that feels disconnected not only from other people but from the Earth itself. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” We need to wake up and realize that the Earth is our mother as well as our home—and in this case the umbilical cord binding us to her cannot be severed. When the Earth becomes sick, we become sick, because we are part of her.

Our present economic and technological relationships with the rest of the biosphere are unsustainable. To survive the rough transitions ahead, our lifestyles and expectations must change. This involves new habits as well as new values. The Buddhist teaching that the overall health of the individual and society depends upon inner well-being, and not merely upon economic indicators, helps us determine the personal and social changes we must make.

Individually, we must adopt behaviors that increase everyday ecological awareness and reduce our “carbon footprint”. Those of us in the advanced economies need to retrofit and insulate our homes and workplaces for energy efficiency; lower thermostats in winter and raise them in summer; use high efficiency light bulbs and appliances; turn off unused electrical appliances; drive the most fuel-efficient cars possible, and reduce meat consumption in favor of a healthy, environmentally-friendly plant-based diet.

These personal activities will not by themselves be sufficient to avert future calamity. We must also make institutional changes, both technological and economic. We must “de-carbonize” our energy systems as quickly as feasible by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources that are limitless, benign and harmonious with nature. We especially need to halt the construction of new coal plants, since coal is by far the most polluting and most dangerous source of atmospheric carbon. Wisely utilized, wind power, solar power, tidal power, and geothermal power can provide all the electricity that we require without damaging the biosphere. Since up to a quarter of world carbon emissions result from deforestation, we must reverse the destruction of forests, especially the vital rainforest belt where most species of plants and animals live.

It has recently become quite obvious that significant changes are also needed in the way our economic system is structured. Global warming is intimately related to the gargantuan quantities of energy that our industries devour to provide the levels of consumption that many of us have learned to expect. From a Buddhist perspective, a sane and sustainable economy would be governed by the principle of sufficiency: the key to happiness is contentment rather than an ever-increasing abundance of goods. The compulsion to consume more and more is an expression of craving, the very thing the Buddha pinpointed as the root cause of suffering.

Instead of an economy that emphasizes profit and requires perpetual growth to avoid collapse, we need to move together towards an economy that provides a satisfactory standard of living for everyone while allowing us to develop our full (including spiritual) potential in harmony with the biosphere that sustains and nurtures all beings, including future generations. If political leaders are unable to recognize the urgency of our global crisis, or unwilling to put the long-term good of humankind above the short-term benefit of fossil-fuel corporations, we need to challenge them with sustained campaigns of citizen action.

Dr James Hansen of NASA and other climatologists have recently defined the precise targets needed to prevent global warming from reaching catastrophic “tipping points.” For human civilization to be sustainable, the safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is no more than 350 parts per million (ppm). This target has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama, along with other Nobel laureates and distinguished scientists. Our current situation is of profound concern since the level is already 400 ppm, and has been rising at 2 ppm per year. We are challenged not only to reduce carbon emissions, but also to remove large quantities of carbon gas already present in the atmosphere.

As signatories to this statement of Buddhist principles, we acknowledge the urgent challenge of climate change. We join with the Dalai Lama in endorsing the 350 ppm target. In accordance with Buddhist teachings, we accept our individual and collective responsibility to do whatever we can to meet this target, including (but not limited to) the personal and social responses outlined above.

We have a brief window of opportunity to take action, to preserve humanity from imminent disaster and to assist the survival of the many diverse and beautiful forms of life on Earth. Future generations, and the other species that share the biosphere with us, have no voice to ask for our compassion, wisdom, and leadership. We must listen to their silence. We must be their voice, too, and act on their behalf.


Endorsements gathered by One Earth Sangha: 2083

Five most recent endorsements (see all endorsements collected by One Earth Sangha):

Anne Maxwell

Bozeman Dharma Center

Bozeman

MT

United States

John DeVilbiss

Sonoma

CA

United States

Elisabeth van Assum

West Coast Dharma Society

Vancouver

BC

Canada

Barbara Trenchard

Denver

CO

United States

Arleen Garcia-Herbst

Shambhala Meditation Center of Denver

Littleton

Colorado

United States

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21 Comments on “The Time to Act is Now

  1. I signed the Declaration a number of years ago, and am wondering if we might update the document to reflect the current rate of CO2 above 400 ppm. The Declaration presently refers to 387 ppm.

    Thanks for expanding the awareness of this Declaration. Most important.

    • Great point, George. We’ll pass this on to the organizers and see if an update can be made.

      Thanks!
      Kristin

    • Thanks George, I have contacted the original writers to the declaration with your important feedback. Will report back.
      Thanissara

    • So, there seems to be both an agreement to update the statement as to your suggestion George, on the one hand, and then the difficulty of doing that without informing all those who have signed, on the other hand, (with so many signatures, that is an impossible task.) I’m not sure how the decision gets made, but I’ve deferred it to those who are focalizing this initiative, including one of the authors.

    • All parties have now agreed to update the statement to reflect the latest figures. The text has been updated here and will make its way around to the other outlets.

      Thank you, George, for pointing this out.

      In Sangha,
      Kristin

  2. I agree with the statement but believe that it, like others, leaves out an important part of the human cause of global warming. . .overpopulation. With the current war on “choice” in the USA and the related issue of wishing to ban birth control, I believe that all statements by “thinking” organizations must begin to refer to the overpopulation issue and it’s implications regarding global warming (climate change).

  3. I recently watched a film called “Cowspiracy” In this film the actual cost of animal husbandry and meat consumption was shown to be the leading cause of degradation of planetEarth, C02 emissons, and global warming…..The word needs to get out…it’s not the cars and factories it’s the meat consumption…and the artificial low pricing of fast food that is killing our planet….We are living the Isis , Osiris and Seth myth…..

    • And the fact is we could stop global warming, feed the world and reclaim our souls if we all became vegan.

  4. First time aware of The Declaration; very telling and sobering. Have gladly signed it. But I wonder is it really possible to stop global warming. 2015 is a benign year, but 2016 NASA is ascertainig, that those “heat Vents” out in space that the Earth has prior been ripping apart, will start to appear again, with their 9,000 deg to 12,000 deg F inners , continually warming the planet’s average temperature onward till the end when everything will burn up. Perhaps a ‘fluid’ human race survival plan for first increasing sea levels, then decreasing sea levels as the planet continually warms up for one’s local geography as well as one for planet wide, would be in order?

  5. O Bodhisattvas!

    Please help!

    One thing in every Bodhisattva’s practice these days stands out: no matter how hard we practice, so that all beings (all beings without an exception) benefit, the conditions for life in this world continue to deteriorate at ever increasing pace.

    What can be going wrong? Why isn’t the quality of life for all beings here and now improving?

    The reason that things in this world generally are going from bad to worse is that we don’t have a clear idea, a clear thought in our minds of how should all life in this world be accommodated optimally, so that all beings exist in harmony with all others.

    Due to our working towards different objectives (because there is no clearly defined, collectively held idea of what this world should be like at its optimum), there is no chance for conditions for all life here and now to become optimal ever.

    What needs to be done is that we all agree on what actually the optimal conditions for all life on Earth should be. Then, while we work towards the same, by all of us agreed upon goal, not anymore sorting out our differences in real life (which is very costly in time, resources, and lives), we stand a much better chance of seeing the tide turning, and seeing the conditions for all life on Earth starting, actually, improving!

    That all beings (all beings with no exceptions) benefit optimally fully here and now is very important, because here and now is forever in all three times and all directions of space. If all beings don’t benefit by our actions here and now, they never will. Here and now is all we have ever. All beings have to benefit fully here and now!

    Bodhisattvas! What kind of a world should the Earth be to accommodate all life optimally? How shall we unify, harmonize all our individual ideas about what this world should be like ideally so that we all work towards one clearly defined objective?

    Some ideas how this could be done are presented at http://www.ModelEarth.Org .

    May all differences, all controversies, all conflicts, and all complaints that there are in this world among all beings be resolved peacefully without any delays! May all these be prevented from ever arising by using what-so-ever expedient, skillful, effective, appropriate, and wholesome means! May this come to pass by the power of all true Bodhisattvas ever merit!

    !OmManiPadmeHum!

    May all beings, without an exception, benefit to the utmost by this action in all ways possible, spiritually and materially alike, starting with all beings that there are here and now.

    May humans voluntarily become fully and truly forever transparently sustainable for their own good and for the benefit of all beings!

    May the Great Enlightenment start happening here and now, or else it will never happen!

    Relevant:

    Creating Lasting Peace- http://www.ModelEarth.Org/peace.html

    Mahayana: Philosophy for Sustainability- http://www.ModelEarth.Org/mahaecosoc.html

    Why Prayers, Meditations, Wishes, and Any Such Don’t Help to Establish a Lasting Peace in the World- http://www.ModelEarth.Org/praypeace.html

    This Paradise Earth: Philosophy in Practice http://www.ModelEarth.Org/paradise.html

    Thank you, Mr. Jan Hearthstone – http://www.ModelEarth.Org .

    • Those are wonderful words. I am collecting writings and sayings that show what ecosattva might look like. May I include your prayer?

      • Pauline,

        the writing – “O Bodhisattvas” is an attempt to find those who would like to start benefiting all beings here and now!
        Acting individually we would be continuing getting nowhere, and the conditions for all beings would continue getting from bad to worse, as they have been continuing doing always. The reason for this is that even if we do have an idea what the ideal harmony for all beings here and now should be, our individual ideas on the subject are not identical, and we, individually work towards different ends; this easily proven–if we two would compare what our ideas about what the ideal state of co-existence of all Life on Earth should be, would those ideas (yours and mine) be the same? What I want for the ideal conditions to be is presented at “This Paradise Earth: Philosophy in Practice” – http://www.ModelEarth.Org/paradise.html and at “Universal Platform for Developing Sustainable Earth Vision/Model Cooperatively: Global Citizens Envisioning the Future Together” – http://www.modelearth.org/seed.html . What would your ideal state of harmony among all beings on Earth look like?
        By acting in concord it would be possible to turn the tide, so that conditions for all beings here and now would start continually improving.

        Thanks, Hearthstone.

  6. Dear friends,

    it is wonderful to have that declaration, but what I miss is a clear point about our consuming milk products. ( in the declaration ist says: “and reduce meat consumption in favor of a healthy, environmentally-friendly plant-based diet.”)
    It should be made clear, that it is not only about eating less meat but also about eating less milk products…. that a vegan diet is the best for our planet, for the compassion with the animals who suffer enourmously and for our own health.
    Even some German footballtrainers praise now a vegan diet…that means veganism is getting into mainstream.
    In Berlin I heard that we have 40.000 people eating vegan.
    Our Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh asked us – after studying the FAO Report from 2007 – to try to keep a vegan diet as much as possible.
    I had alot of joint problems 8 years ago and now I am doing really well with my vegan diet….and Vitamin B 12 supplement

    a smile
    Annabelle Zinser , Berlin

    • Annabelle Zinser, I applaud your comment. It is right on the mark. It is time to stop the silliness of not speaking about the elephant in the room and put it square in the front of all discussion. The largest effect upon climate change that we can enact is a vegan diet. Period. There is no cost. There is simply a decision to do it. It is healthy. It is compassionate. It has an immediate effect on the environment. As you say, “vegan diet is the best for our planet, for the compassion with the animals who suffer enormously and for our own health.”

  7. In the sixties I marched with others in the streets of Riverside, California, carrying a sign protesting against the foul, polluted, smoggy air that blanketed my home town. Amazingly our efforts did work and the air is cleaner today. Every small action builds upon another small action and soon the mountain is moved. The key is taking action on a personal level. Thank you all for your continued efforts to heal the damage done to our home planet.
    Sincerely,
    Dr. Mary Larenas

  8. Why Prayers, Meditations, Wishes, and Any Such Don’t Help to Establish a Lasting Peace in the World

    It is a safe assumption that ever since humans started experiencing the horrors of warfare, they also started to wish to live in peace that would not end with a war again.

    Humans in great numbers have been wishing, praying, meditating for peace since time immemorial, but, so far, with no lasting results. Why should this be so?

    The answer might be that the very reason that wars always come back is precisely because we do want to live in peace!–we don’t experience a lasting peace, because our ideas of what peace should be differ from each other so greatly, that we go to war to settle our differences again and over again.

    A lasting world peace is possible, of course–it is within human capabilities to effect this–but since our ideas of what such a peace should look like are so diverse, we have to learn how to resolve our differences peacefully, instead of ultimately choosing war every time we feel the desire for peace.

    This is what I feel should be done:
    All of us who pray, meditate, wish, and etc., for a lasting peace in the world have to get together one way or another, and come up with one unified design of a world we would like to live in. A design in which it would be possible to see how we all are to live together in one world in as small detail as possible. Differences that normally would get resolved in real life with often damaging results would be resolved harmlessly in a model during the process of hammering out of a design in which all of us would find an optimal place in.
    More on how this could be done is presented throughout the writings in this book.

    The idea on how to create a lasting Peace in the world is also presented in a different form at: Designing a Lasting Peace – http://www.ModelEarth.Org/peace.html

    Thank you, Hearthstone.

  9. There is a book written by Olaf Stapelton about the impact of Tibetan Buddhism that he wrote in the 1940s. It tells what will happen to the Earth if the Chinese perspective takes over and the Tibetan Buddhist’s loose followed by what would happen if the Tibetan perspective wins. It is titled, “Darkness and the Light”. IT is mind boggling in its accuracy.

  10. Our bodily presence at climate change gatherings is a visible sign of our commitment to help effect healing on our earth. Our commitment to a carbon-reduced diet, to modest space in our lives, to building sympathetic alliances in our community–all this can help.
    But the endless and uncontrolled worship of profit, the monetization of all things in our lives- this is deeper, more pernicious. All The Dollar Bills Sing Halleliua, and dispelling our cultural fixation on them–that might be our terrible challenge.

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