Individual freedom is defined as the ability to speak one’s mind and act on it. A paradox, on the other hand, is a statement that takes opposing positions. When such a statement is investigated, however, it is discovered to be true. The paradox of freedom is the idea that there can’t be freedom without there being a lack of it. This could be exemplified by scenarios where, despite having the ability to express oneself, one’s actions should not infringe on the rights of others. This paradox was first discovered by the philosopher Plato, and later echoed by Rousseau. However, Kant a philosopher as well solved this principle by demanding that people should have freedom but it needs to be restricted.
Activist movements globally play a crucial role in the society. For example, they challenge the power structures set in place and advocate for democracy in areas where it is nonexistent. These groups have the freedom to express their thoughts through nonviolent mass actions, for example (Endress et. al, pp.127). However, their freedom is restricted to a certain limit to ensure they do not infringe on the freedom of others. According to Hobbes if people are given freedom without any restrictions, they are likely to be victims of chaos (Morris, pp.168). Global issues are problems that cut across the globe and are not limited to one region. Some of the most issues are child labor, child abuse, and climate change issues among others. People joining these groups have a common objective and agenda that they want to be addressed. It may be gender inequality, race discrimination, sexual abuse and animal rights among others. However, our focus will be on climate change.
Climate change is a global challenge that gained the concern of many including agencies such as the United Nations (UN). Climate change is caused mainly by the expansion of greenhouse effect by people. Gases emitted form a layer in the atmosphere that prevents heat from the earth to escape towards space. These gases form a blanket over the ozone layer. Some of the gases that are responsible for this effect include Carbon dioxide (CO2), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Methane (CH4) and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) among others. These gases are emitted into the atmosphere from the industrial activities that have increased in number over the years. The activities of people have changed as well some of which are the contributing factors of changes in climate. Some of these activities include the burning of fossils fuels, which releases CO2 into the air. The emission of these gases into the atmosphere leads to the destruction of the ozone layer. Increased rate of deforestation has led to increased amounts of greenhouse gases such as CO2 in the air.
Effects that are likely to be experienced with these changes in climate include a difference in weather patterns, which will affect negatively the food production across the globe. A negative impact on food production may lead to calamities such as famine. Sea levels will rise and possibly causes flooding in different regions especially those near large water bodies. These effects will be experienced globally hence the need for changes worldwide to salvage the environment. Various panels have been set up by the UN to give clarity on this issue. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Fifth Assessment report that concluded peoples activities were the leading cause of climate change. The report included facts such as since 1880-2012; there has been a rise in the global temperature by 0.850C (Urry, pp. 21).
The UN is among agencies that are concerned with the rise in climate change thus they are greatly involved. This body has held various summits and developed different agencies to help gear countries towards reducing the interference by people on the climate. In 1992 for example, during the Earth Summit the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was formed. Years later, the UNFCCC membership is almost universal. Other legal agreements the UN has been involved in include Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. The Kyoto Protocol binds countries to reduce the emission of gases into the atmosphere. Paris Agreement that was signed in 2016 by 175 leaders aims at bringing countries together and dealing with the issue of climate change. This Agreement aims at keeping the rise of temperatures globally below 20C by dealing with the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (Pittock, pp. 89).
Activist movement groups have formed to create awareness on climate change as well as call out industries or policies that contribute to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Activism based on changes in climate began in the 1990s under the UNFCCC after its establishment. Other specific movements such as Energy Action Coalition and 350.org were formed in the 2000s and were involved in issues based on climate. The UNFCCC summit that was held in Copenhagen in 2009 attracted 40,000-100,000 participants who marched in the streets requesting for an agreement on climate globally. The rally attracted other approximately 5,400 rallies worldwide calling out on the same issue. The 2014 Peoples Climate March that happened in New York attracted approximately 400,000 activists. This was the largest event ever convened by the climate movement group. However, this event was not in New York City only but it happened across several other cities. The event aimed at demanding global climate action from leaders who had attended the 2014 UN Climate Summit.
Activists on the issue of climate change believe that communities and common people should be involved in this process as they have the solutions towards this global issue (Endress et. al, pp.158). The UN focuses on the corporate agenda failing to address the real problem. According to the national coordinator of the Climate Justice, Michael Guerrero the voices of affected communities are missing in conversations among political leaders and environmentalists. According to Guerrero, people at the grass root level understand best what will work in their communities. The UN focuses on issues such as gender inequality, representation of people of color in the committees. However, such issues do not focus on strategies on how to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Hence, movements such as The Our Power Campaign focus on connecting movements in the U.S with other rallies globally.
Despite the formation of these groups advocating for sustainable sources of energy, some leaders think that climate change is not a global crisis. For example, some candidates in the last presidential election in the U.S think that climate change is not solely caused by people. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush believe that human activity is not the leading factor in causing climate change as scientists say. According to Donald Trump, the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S manufacturing non-competitive. He promised citizens that he would withdraw the U.S from the climate change deal that was signed into an agreement by 196 nations. This made the U.S the only nation considering this course of action. Leaders across all nations have had different reactions to Donald Trumps remarks. Some leaders term this situation as unfortunate but argue that the Agreement cannot be renegotiated. However, since his election, he has softened on the issue. He thinks there is some link between the changes in climate and human activity. Despite some leaders having a different opinion that of climate change is a non-issue, others are of the opinion that this is a crisis and needs to be addressed. Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie and Bernie Sanders among other leaders are of the opinion that climate change is a global issue.
Based on the remarks of Donald Trump, the U.S President, citizens had the freedom to express their reactions based on the subject of withdrawal from the Agreement. Al Gore, former vice president and an activist of climate change expressed his dissatisfaction on social media. He termed this move as reckless. It would as well affect the ability of Americans to deal with issues concerning climate change. These remarks were expressed freely as individuals have the freedom of speech. However, their freedom of speech should not infringe on other peoples freedom. For example, their statements need to be respectful to avoid legal liabilities such as defamation. The moment the statements are written interfere with the freedom of other individuals then that freedom ceases to exist.
Presence of freedom for activists to express their views and dissatisfaction with the relevant agencies does not imply lack of restrictions. Freedom for these groups ends where the freedom of others starts. Members of these groups are allowed to picket and have rallies across different cities. However, the officials are required to inform the relevant authorities of their activity and the day they suppose to hold the rally. These rallies and mass actions should not interfere with the peace of other citizens (OBrien, pp.56). They need to be peaceful and avoid destruction of property. In case of violent scenarios in the demonstrations, the relevant authorities have the right to infringe on their freedom and stop the rally (Endress et. al, p.25). In our places of work, as well people are given the freedom of expression for example, based on matters of climate change. However, since one may have different opinions from their colleagues their freedom of expression should not interfere with others.
Hobbes stated that freedom requires restrictions to avoid the eruption of chaos. Lack of restrictions may lead to only those at the top level experiencing this freedom whereas those at the bottom lack freedom (Morris, pp.155). Different philosophers had different views on the idea of freedom. The paradox of freedom helps us understand better the kind of constraints to expect and moments in which they are useful. The availability of this freedom enables the activists to express either their satisfaction or dissatisfaction on climate change policies. They have the capability to hold demonstrations and rallies globally. Members of UNFCCC are not the only people who can express their ideas on this global issue rather the freedom of expression trickles down to the people in the communities (Morris, pp.198).
Endres, Danielle, Sprain, M. Leah, and Peterson, R. Tarla. Social Movements to Address Climate Change: Local Steps for Global Action. New York: Cambria Press, 2009. Pp 25-168.
Morris, W. Christopher. The Social Contract Theorists: Critical Essays on Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000. Pp 147-263.
Pittock, B. A. Climate Change: The Science, Impacts and Solutions. London: Routledge, 2013.
Urry, John. Climate Change and Society. Polity, 2011. Pp.21-155.
OBrien, J. Kevin. The Violence of Climate Change: Lessons of Resistance from Nonviolent Activists. Georgetown University Press, 2017. Pp. 40-61.