Global warming, probably the most serious existential threat facing the human species, is the byproduct of the industrial exploitation of fossil fuels. Increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have driven the world into a climate crisis in which our survival is questionable.
The most worrisome part is that we don’t have much time to correct our course. Slight adjustments to the patterns of consumption of dirty energy are not an option. It’s necessary to act quickly and on a large scale in order to avoid the most devastating and irreversible effects of climate change. The present generation, in this decade, inevitably has in their hands the destiny of life on earth.
After an international group of scientists and climate experts warned of the undeniable extent of the problem, the outlook is not good. Twenty years of negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have not been able to reach agreements that would sufficiently limit emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases that continue to increase at an alarming rate. And there are no signs that this tendency will reverse itself any time soon.
La toile de fond – au plan global – des attentats de Paris, c’est d’abord la contre-réforme qui se déploie depuis trente à quarante ans au sein de l’islam et la décomposition au Moyen-Orient des sociétés qui ont été les plus fortement sécularisées dans les années de gloire du nationalisme arabe, notamment les sociétés baasistes (Syrie et Irak). Les courants d’une contre-réforme obscurantiste et antimoderne se sont exacerbés au sein de l’islam et ont pris là une puissance à proportion de l’effondrement et de l’appropriation clanique de l’État.
L’accentuation de la polarisation entre sunnites et chiites est associée à cette contre-réforme et à cette désintégration des institutions mises en place dans le contexte de la décolonisation. Le second élément du contexte global est l’échec des printemps arabes (à l’exception de la Tunisie) et de ce qui aurait pu être une transformation politique démocratique des sociétés du Moyen-Orient. Ce dernier élément est à souligner dans la mesure où une transformation réussie de ces sociétés aurait pu susciter un élan de la part des jeunes issus de l’immigration musulmane.
The climate has changed naturally in the past and will change naturally in the future. Climate change is natural on our planet and there is nothing to be done about it other than being able to adapt. So what exactly is the problem? The problem is that adapting to climate change has become extremely difficult given the time and space scale of the phenomenon in a world that has grown politically complex and in which adapting to nature is more and more problematic. One can no longer resort to the argument according to which mankind was able to adapt to past climate changes and will hence be able to adapt to future changes in a similar way. As a matter of fact, our world is not as "natural" as it was before the industrial revolution of the mid-nineteenth century, and even as it was before the very first domestication of nature by agriculture that started approximately ten thousand years ago. The acceleration of technical progress and demographic expansion have shaken the rules of the game.
The diplomatic effort to forge an international agreement to mitigate climate change is undergoing a fundamental shift. The top-down approach that has guided the effort since 1992 is slowly being replaced by a bottom-up model. Rather than attempting to craft an accord based on legally binding restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions, the new approach relies on voluntary commitments by individual countries to rein in their contributions to climate change.
This is, in one sense, an admission of failure; such an approach is unlikely to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2° Celsius, the target set by the United Nations in 2010. But given the slow pace of progress so far, small pragmatic steps by individual countries may be far more productive than attempts to strike a grand bargain that remains forever out of reach.
Hannah Arendt once remarked that the rights of man proved to be unenforceable in postwar Europe. Currently, observes Valeria Korablyova, the refugee crisis looks like proving the idea of Europe itself to be unenforceable. So what will remain if equality and solidarity finally fail to become the principles of cooperation between EU member states now riven by common fears?
The refugee crisis burst onto the scene in Europe this year in a way that surprised many. Paradoxically enough, the influx of refugees – manageable in terms of numbers and existing facilities – activated a chain of serious consequences. It challenged not only the effectiveness of the European Union's institutional structure but also the viability of the European project itself. The lack of trust between member states, the division between "Old" and "New" Europe that had never ceased to exist, the absence of shared EU policies and strategies: this is to name but a few sensitive issues that the crisis exposed.