It looks like the climate conference in Copenhagen produced good news and bad news.
The bad news was that, as the final weeks, months, or years (nobody knows!) tick down before we have passed over enough “tipping points” to fall into climate chaos, the governments of the world were unable to agree about how to stop, slow, end, or reverse the process. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that there is no way to make those who are doing most of the damage–the government/industrial complexes of the US, China, India, Canada, and Russia–there is no way to make them–or is it us?– stop. Everybody agreed to keep talking, but the climate time bomb is still ticking, and we have no idea when it’s going to go off or how much damage it will do.
The good news is that the governments and big businesses of the world were unable to come to the agreement that some had hoped to ratify–an agreement that was more of a mutual suicide pact than something that would actually have curbed, or even helped the world adjust to, global climate change.
It kind of reminds me of the old anti-gun law bumper sticker that read “Ill give up my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.”
But this isn’t about just about guns, it’s about the whole growth-oriented worldwide consumer economy. The upper classes and their hypnotized minions in the bourgeoisie and what’s left of the working class (Wow, I sound like an old-time commie, don’t I!?), all those under the spell of eternal growth, either don’t care how many people have to die for them to keep enjoying their high standard of living, or at best think there is some technological breakthrough just over the horizon that will make it work. I have a feeling they are very, very mistaken.
As I understand it, here’s how the breakdown happened:
The Chinese see themselves, probably correctly, as the next great superpower, and are unwilling to let anything stand in their way. China’s leaders also know that they need to keep their economy moving, or they will have hundreds of millions of very unhappy people chewing on their asses. Are they aware of the fact that their growth plan will melt the Himalayan ice cap and leave them (and India) without an adequate water supply? Probably. Are they planning to negotiate for, or maybe just seize, far eastern Russia’s copious water resources? Probably. Do they figure that India and the rest of south Asia, who are dependent on the glacier-fed Mekong, Irawaddy, Bhramaputra, Ganges, and Indus Rivers, but do not have easy access to Siberia, will thus be made more dependent on China and thus increase China’s world hegemony? Probably.
Will things work out according to their plans? Don’t bet on it. According to one witness, it was the Chinese who insisted that the commitment to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, as well as any other concrete targets, be dropped. China will not be immune to the disastrous consequences of this power play.
The US government and its major industrial corporations (who are not nearly as separate as they want us to believe) are still trying to be number one. The US came to the conference with a “commitment” to goals that would protect its own financial interests but not the little people of the world, which seems to be the typical strategy of the Obama administration. Hillary Clinton’s offer to create a fund to help countries deal with climate change was so hedged with conditions that it amounted to blackmail. Fortunately, the US position in the world is slipping so fast that few countries are likely to take the bait. Meanwhile, however, the back room, lowest-common denominator “accord” that Obama negotiated with the Chinese did more to trash the UN, the possibility of controlling carbon emissions, and America’s standing in the world than all the fussing the Bush Junta and their bulldog John Bolton ever dreamed of.
So where does that leave us? On our own. The big boys are too involved with preserving their own asses and assets to think about or care for us. . It’s time to learn to power down, to transition into the post-affluence, post-petroleum, climate-altered twenty-first century, We need to learn to live locally, to be both self reliant and interdependent. We need to learn how to keep working with old friends and how to make new ones. There’s already a group gathering here in Nashville to do this–in fact, there probably need to be several–it’s a big city.
I can tell you about two upcoming events that will address this need for local organization. The first is this coming Tuesday, January 12th, at the Celebrity Scientology Center, 1130 8th Avenue South, at 7:30 PM. Albert Bates, who attended the Copenhagen meeting, will be talking about where we go from here. Albert combines brilliant, innovative insight with a great sense of humor, and I think this meeting will be very inspirational and should not be missed. This event is free.
But, if that’s a little short-notice for you, save Saturday, January 30th, when local activist Susan Shann, who is working to birth the “Transition Nashville” movement, will talk at the Cumberland-Green River Basin Bioregional Council’s winter meeting. She’s not as funny as Albert, but she sings better. Susan will presenting between 1:30 and 3PM at Brookemeade Congregational Church, at 700 Bresslyn Road, and there will be other events and workshops as well. Check out the whole schedule at http://www.meetup.com/Cumberland-Green-River-Bioregional-Council/ . This event is also free.
Hope to see you there!
music: The Grateful Dead, “Throwing Stones”