Global Warming,Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Secular Spirituality

Santhigiri Research Foundation, a division of Santhigiri Ashram, proudly announces a 3-day International Conference on GLOBAL WARMING, CLIMATE CHANGE, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND SECULAR SPIRITUALITY as part of the dedication ceremony of the 'Parnasala' of the Founder Guru of Santhigiri Ashram, Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru, from 09-11 September, 2010.

The Conference seeks to bring together scientists, social scientists, Government institutions, NGOs and social activists in an endeavour to discuss and debate the challenge posed by climate change and devise policies and programmes for its resolution. We have great pleasure in inviting you to this global gathering to share your experiences and views on the subject.

Concept Note:

The phenomena of global warming, climate change and fears about their probable disastrous impact on environment and human life have questioned the very premises of belief in unlimited growth, ever increasing standard of living and individualism cherished under 'modern development', which in turn has paved the way for the emergence of an alternative eco-friendly development concept of sustainable development. However, the successive conferences and summits, including the recent Copenhagen Summit, amply bring out the inability of national political leaderships in arriving at a consensus on adopting bold steps to considerably reduce the green house gas emissions. In addition, the adverse impact of emission reduction on industrial and economic growth and modern life style and the resultant reactions from the organized interests deter the national governments from taking decisive steps in this respect.

Several studies on global warming show that the global mean surface temperature may rise by 1.50 to 5.00 degrees celsius by 2100. This may result in flooded cities due to the rise in sea level, diminished food production, increased frequency of storms, forest fires and spreading of new pests, vectors and epidemics which could produce catastrophic economic consequences in the lives of billions of people. Unless we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate reliance on new energy and transportation options, the climate will become more erratic over time and all ecosystems will be put under threat.

Historically viewed, the responsibility of global warming and climate change could be fixed with the developed countries. However, it is ironical that the developing nations are the most-affected victims of climate change. Developed countries are better equipped to get over the consequences of climate change due to their technological and economic prowess.

India is among the countries most threatened by climate change and different studies reveal that rising temperatures will cause a rise in sea level, more floods, storms, heat waves and unpredictable farm yields. Though India is committed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it cannot turn away from its developmental objectives. India cannot be expected to resort to large scale mitigating measures that would slow down its development, especially in the absence of abundant capital investment in developing appropriate technologies and adopting strategies to address the issue of climate change.

The extent of damage that global warming and climate change shall cause to ecology and human life in unpredictable ways has thus necessitated the search for alternative means. Innovative initiatives in different areas of energy conservation, transportation systems, bio-farming, reforestation and eco-friendly technologies have given a ray of hope for overcoming the effects of climate change and restoring ecological equilibrium. But any real success in this respect is conditional on the extent to which the people are conscientised and how far they are prepared to change the present life vision and life style and adopt an environment-friendly style of living. Political leadership can take bold steps in reducing emissions only when the civil society recognizes and accepts the nexus between the life vision and life style on the one hand and the pattern of modern industrialisation that causes global warming on the other.


Therefore, it is our contention that along with the steadfast efforts to reverse the direction of the present economic growth and scientific development, we should also endeavour to instil and cultivate a life vision and development pattern that will bring real progress, peace and happiness. It is here that Spirituality assumes significance, especially the Secular Spirituality of Santhigiri. Though spirituality is understood differently, the core of spirituality is a sustainable way of life compatible with the inalienable laws of nature and the cosmic design behind it which guide man to real development, peace and happiness. This is the spirituality of Santhigiri. The Founder-Guru of Santhigiri Ashram, Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru, has gifted to humanity a novel spiritual doctrine and path beyond religion, caste,race and regional considerations for bringing people together to usher in a sustainable social order.

Above all, what makes this Conference distinctive is that it focuses on the role of spirituality, especially secular spirituality, in bringing about changes in life style and vision, which are complementary and contributory to the efforts of National Governments, NGOs and others to develop environment-friendly technologies and methods. The idea of sustainable development should be integrated and interwoven in the life vision and practices of the people. It is with this objective of facilitating the policy makers, administrators, scientists, social scientists and activists to sit and think together in devising policies and action programmes that promote a sustainable way of life and development pattern, that the Conference is being organized.