Even the Dalai Lama is losing patience with world leaders over climate change

ByTebany Yune
Originally Published: 

The Dalai Lama is asking politicians around the world to step up and focus on the climate crisis. In a new, co-authored book titled Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World, he warns that global warming will cause water shortages for millions of people and threaten our way of life. The world's leaders must make a stand for an environmentally stable planet, he insists, instead of burning money on destructive pursuits.

"The United Nations should take a more active role in this field," he told The Guardian. "The big nations should pay more attention to ecology. I hope you see those big nations who spent a lot of money for weapons or war turn their resources to the preservation of the climate."

It's a slight dig at the U.S.'s current leader, too, whose withdrawal from the Paris Agreement surprised the Dalai Lama.

"I think that's a mistake," he told NPR. "Right from the beginning, when the president of America [...] mentioned 'America First,' I feel disagreement. America, the leading nation of free world, so America should think not just America first." He added that America, with its standing in the world, has "great potential" in contributing to a "happier world."

The spiritual leader also encourages the younger generation to continue fighting for their right to a clean future, recommends that people stop eating so much meat, and says that "Buddha would be green."

It's not unusual for the Dalai Lama to speak up about environmental issues. He has a long history of talking with world leaders and stepping into politics (notably in conflict with China). The Nobel Peace Prize recipient has spent his life focusing on spreading Tibetan Buddhist teachings and advocating for non-violence, vegetarianism, anti-capitalism, and governance.

At 85, the Dalai Lama still has a bit of bite. In a conversation with The Guardian, he suggested taking world leaders who enjoy a "certain [luxurious] sort of style of life" and putting them into an oxygen-deprived room so they can feel what it's like to breathe in an environment overwhelmed with carbon dioxide. While he was (presumably) joking, it really does feel like certain people need that kind of climate reality check.