As the second wave of Climategate emails gums-up the Durban Climate Change Conference, it’s instructive to revisit the Buddhist position on climate change. In May of 2009 just before the first batch of Climategate emails hit, a group of 20 Buddhist teachers from all traditions released The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change.
The authors urged members of the international Buddhist community to sign the document in the run-up to the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The Dalai Lama was the first to sign, endorsing a “sustainable” atmospheric carbon dioxide limit of no more than 350 parts per million.
The declaration is a peculiar document. At its core, Buddhism is the practice of cultivating compassion to dissipate preoccupation with one’s self — to experience the truth of impermanence by surrendering attachment to things, feelings, and perceptions.
Does the declaration mesh with Buddhism?
The declaration makes note of the “overwhelming” scientific consensus that human activity is triggering environmental breakdown on a global scale. It states with assurance that if humans continue on their current energy-consuming ways, half the species on the planet will be extinct by the end of this century.