An appeal from the Pugwash Council to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference

Avoiding threats to human civilization

Since the middle of the 20th century, scientists have consistently raised alarm about the risks posed by climate change due to the increase of carbon in the atmosphere emanating from human activities. Collective scientific endeavour of thousands of researchers organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, warns of unequivocal global warming that under the current conditions is likely to lead to further environmental degradation mass migration and increase global insecurity. The impacts of climate change will be uneven across the planet, and less developed and vulnerable communities will be more severely affected. Moreover, climate change is not just a peril for humanity today: it poses existential challenges for future, as yet unborn generations.

Therefore the Pugwash Council, in line with its founding Russell-Einstein Manifesto, call on the world’s leaders meeting in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference to act, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the human species.

Early signs of climate change are being felt all around the world. Disruptions, longer-term modifications to climate patterns and catastrophic events of ever growing intensity will characterize not just the immediate future, but also the decades and centuries to come. Therefore there is an urgent need for changes in life styles and development patterns that reduce risks of resource depletion and waste. Alleviating disastrous climate change consequences will increasingly divert limited resources from other development goals. Moreover, failure to counteract the process of climate change is likely to exacerbate sources of conflicts and wars. It could also initiate attempts at climate intervention, which should be handled with the greatest caution and responsibility.

Union of interests with and support for the less developed nations among us are condiciones sine quibus non if we wish to succeed as the human species. Thinking and acting collectively in a responsible manner based on ethical, equitable, and humane values is the only way forward. As the Pugwash Council concluded in its 1988 Dagomys Declaration, in this way, the planet may move towards a new and stable balance in which nature can withstand the impacts of human civilization.