Human behaviour is determined by our shared memes. Just as other animals, we are bound to an ongoing struggle for survival in evolutionary competition. The process of evolution has no inbuilt mechanism for taking precautions against dangers that are decades away. To solve the issue of climate change requires coordinated international action. There is no world organisation in place that can force change and our current organisations have limited scope for cooperating to resolve long term issues. If human memes don’t change we will inevitably pursue our own short-term interests until we reach the limits in population and wealth that the Earth can support.
Individual action by people or governments will not be effective enough. We can stop it only if everyone wants to stop. That is not just scientists, New- Age travellers and the liberal middle classes but American red-necks, Indian peasants, Chinese communist party members, African subsistence farmers, the urban poor of Mexico City and all the peoples of the world. In short it will only happen if human behaviour as a whole changes. It sounds impossible, but history shows there is just one chance. Humans are able to demonstrate altruistic behaviour to members of their own communities. The most obvious example of this is soldiers fighting for their country. Unfortunately, few are able to regard the population of the whole world as part of their community. There are too many examples of poor regimes, corrupt officials, violent and self–destructive behaviour for many of us to behave altruistically for the benefit of the whole of mankind. There is one type of community, however, that has a proven ability to appeal to a wide variety of national groups and that is a religion or philosophy of life. Buddhism, for instance, spread from India to China and on to Japan, communism spread from Russia to China and Christianity from Europe to Latin America, Asia and Africa. Moreover religions and philosophies of life have a proven record of persuading their followers to fast, give money to good causes and to make other personal sacrifices according to the customs of the movement. In addition, their congregations have maintained common rules of behaviour that are defined by their doctrines.
Our only hope to save the planet for our children is that a new philosophy of life could enthuse people to adopt an ecologically friendly lifestyle.