An Anti-Climatic Ending

December 18, 2008

Excuse the pun in the title of this entry in my journal here.  The proper, or at least expected title would be An Anticlimactic Ending.  But I could not resist the opportunity to tread again on the habitual.

The UN climate conference in Poznan, Poland came to a disappointing conclusion on December 12th.   The ‘spin’ of press releases coming from official UN sources, which were picked up unquestioningly by new media around the world claimed a successful conclusion.  They alluded to the conference concluding with a (paraphrase) ‘clear statement of what now needs to be done’.  In other words, the conference ended with a restatement of the same things that had been decided and stated the year before in the ‘Bali Roadmap’.  There may have been minor ‘progress’, but that could hardly be lauded in respect of the vast distance that remains between what has been stated and achieving an unambiguous agreement, strong and comprehensive enough to avert the worst of what is to come in the climate crisis ahead.

It would be more honest had they said that nothing substantial had been accomplished, and that the the world had, once again, been held hostage by the limited national interests of certain countries, and often by the conflicts-of-interests created by the coziness or collusion of governments with the fossil fuel and other industrial lobbies.

Some news outlets did look further and draw more appropriate conclusions.  And there were articles which acknowledged the lack of real progress in the negotiations.

It was a sad day for the future of the world.  We now have but one year remaining until the final round of negotiation to take place in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Between now aand then there will be 3 additional meetins of the parties, most likely in Bonn, Germany and Geneva, Switzerland.  And then there remains much work for us to do.

Over the coming year the people of the world, perhaps lead by the very youth who were so brilliant at this year’s conference, will need to be alerted to the danger at hand, and will have to rise in spontaneous (or planned and coordinated) public protest and civil disobedience.  Governments must be told in clear and unambiguous terms that we are aware, in ways they may as yet not be, that the future of life on Earth depends upon their actions.  That they must abandon personal interests, and must rise above limited and limiting national interests, to reach a vantage point where they can see clearly the true interests of their children, their people, their nation, and the future that they will commit us all to.

I will now turn my attention more fully to what I have determined to be our best and last chance to get it right.  I will be promoting the film The Age of Stupid, which I discussed in an earlier post.  I welcome anyone reading this who wants more information about the film, or wishes to help in its reaching the widest possible audience, to email me at the.age.of.stupid@gmail.com, for the sake of Life on Earth.


What Can We Do?

December 12, 2008

I just found myself writing to a friend in answer to her question, what can a small person do who is already recycling to the max, etc.  That is the question of the day and indeed of the present age.  Here was my answer.

“Dana, you do NOT sound trite.  That is precisely the question.  My answer at the moment is

  1. Redouble your efforts of what you are already doing.  The effects may be small, but walking the walk is critical, especially if those of us who know what lies ahead are to create a recognizable path for others to follow.
  2. Find your voice.  That is, figure out how to make this a daily conversation with everyone you meet… walking the walk helps make it a constant topic.  For instance, every time you refuse a plastic bag at the checkout, and vocally remark at the 60,000 bags a second used in the US alone, you engage at least 2 or three other people in the paradigm shift.
  3. Raise your voice with government at all levels. Democracy does not mean voting once every 4 years.  You vote every day with every purchase you make.  Vote only for things that improve our prospects of survival on the Earth.  Personally, I feel that you can largely forget about the online petitions.  They are a ‘feel-good’ thing and I believe they divert us from REAL action by making us think we ‘gave at the office’, so to speak.  If you like being among the, say, 100,000 people who responded ‘thus and such’ to ‘so and so’, that is fine.  But they are too easy to do, to easy to fake (I can sign 30 times as 30 different online people) and most of all, too easy to dismiss.  Get phone numbers and make calls… often… to the feds, the state, your local government.
  4. Get into the boardrooms of the world… buy one share of stock (not for the investment) of any corporation you see creating the problem (which is most of them).  That makes you one of their stockholders with as much standing to say your mind as any… then use that.  Again do it by phone which is the most potent.
  5. Be prepared to demonstrate, to take to the streets.  It is my contention that within a few years there will be massive protests around the world, and I am in fact planting seeds toward that eventuality.  That is a final resort in a way, but my sense is that it will come to that.  That is what ended the War in Vietnam.  We must return to those tactics to avoid ending all Life on Earth in a climate catastrophe of unthinkable dimensions.

We MUST make it clear to all people we know that 2015 is the deadline by which humanity MUST start REDUCING the total carbon emissions (not merely slowing the rate of growth as is currently being negotiated in Poznan, Poland) or we are ‘dead meat’ as the saying goes, along with the majority of species of Life on Earth.  The funeral will come later, but the despicable deed will be done by 2015.  This is NOT hyperbole.  It is the reality of the situation as I see it (along with the UN IPCC although they do not engage in the colorful metaphors that I do), and I believe I see it clearly after studying it and being intimately involved for some years now.

It is not a pretty message, but it is one that must guide our dayly actions.  We who know and feel this deep calling must become ‘climate warriors’… peaceful warriors.  There is at present no higher calling in my humble opinion.

For the Earth – §


The Age of Stupid

December 10, 2008

I am at a loss for how to even begin to express the treasure I’ve found in the past couple of days.  It is something so vital to the effort to save humanity from its own ‘success’ that I have decided to attach myself to the effort to promote this amazing documentary.  It is called The Age of Stupid.  I will provide links below to the website for the film, specifically to the page with trailers, and encourage you to whet your appetite in advance of the film’s actual release, which will come as early in 2009 as the people behind the film can negotiate.  But before I lose your attention to that website, let me give you my personal take on the film and its place in the scheme of things.

Read the rest of this entry »


Greenpeace

December 7, 2008

For the past week or more my consciousness has been almost entirely invested in this process of the battle for planet Earth that is the Poznan phase of our global climate change treaty negotiations.  So it is easy to lose track of the significance of events in the rest of the world on the same field of engagement.  It is in that regard that I will mention just one of the countless related developments elsewhere in my Poznan Diary.

Greenpeace (“you gotta love ‘em”) have been brave and inventive defenders of the planet for decades now.  It is their members who risk arrest, injury and death (Google the quoted search term “Rainbow Warrior” and “ship” some time) shining the light of day on the nefarious practices of unrelenting greed.  Several weeks ago some of their British contingent encamped 50 meters or so above the ground, clinging with climber’s gear to the sides of a smokestack in the UK through which thousands of millions of tons of CO2 have fouled our atmosphere and blanketed our shared Earth.

Well, a similar action was mounted here in Poland, at a coal-fired power plant not all that far from Poznan.  Clearly the intent was to divert some of the attention being received by the attempt to fix the problem through a consensus-based negotiation of 192 parties, large and small, both ‘franchised and disenfranchised, with an vast but not incomprehensible, array of prominently divergent interests.  That is did, attracting attention both here and in the international press.

Their banner was simple and clear, “Come Clean, Stop Coal”.  The police were out in force, but the demonstration was met with the kind of respect shown to dissidents when the world is watching.

If you can afford to fund only one environmental movement, I would seriously consider your directing those funds to Greenpeace.  Long live Greenpeace, long live Life on Earth!

For the Earth – §


First UN Press Briefing

December 2, 2008

December 1 –  Please forgive me ahead of time for the length of this post, but it is perhaps the most important contribution I can make to the climate crisis ‘debate’.  The idea at its core is a paradigm shift that humanity must make, in my humble opinion, if it is to step back from the brink of initiating a slow extinction of itself and of all Life on Earth.

Immediately after the US press briefing came the first UN press briefing.  This was my second chance to accomplish what I came to do in Poznan.  Let me digress for a moment.

Several weeks ago, when the financial crisis in global stock and credit markets took hold in earnest, when 5 5% to 10% losses became familiar almost daily experiences, I had an epiphany of sorts.  While financial pundits, governments and investors were bemoaning the massive and unprecedented ‘loss of wealth’ experienced in the stock markets of the world and dire forecasts of economies grinding to a halt were scaring the wits out those in positions of wealth and power… it hit me like a cream puff between the eyes, that this may in fact be a blessing in disguise, that the overheated economies of the world which support and sustain their expansion and so called health by bleeding the planet of its precious black blood (petroleum) and sacrificing it on the alter of Profit, to the ‘gods of accumulated wealth’ of the religions of Consumerism and Economism… that this market collapse was in fact a big step back from the brink of slow, painful self-destruction.

Sure there would be pain, both the mental kind from ‘margin calls’ to the wealthy speculators of the world whose job it is to stoke the fires of their religion of Greed and Avarice by ‘leveraging’ (buying securities on borrowed money)… as well as the real suffering of people losing jobs and life savings, students unable to pay for college, and choices between buying food and paying rent.  The latter class of ‘real suffering’ is not to be applauded, but the suffering will either come in a small way now or in a massive way later if those fearsome climate ‘tipping points’ are, in fact, reached and surpassed.  The choice may be some human suffering now (no birds or bees were jeopardized by a stock market meltdown in point of fact), or massive suffering for all of Life on Earth down the road a piece, where the meltdown of the polar ice caps will wreak havoc and devastation on the biodiversity of Earth.

Soon after my epiphany, links started to appear in my inbox to articles by notable climate change personalities, with admonishments that the world should not back away from funding the needed changes for mitigation and adaptation, and that this was an opportunity for ‘green growth’ after the markets were unfrozen.  The first of these to come to my attention was from Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Secretariat himself.  I want desperately to him that it was a much bigger opportunity than that.

Back to the present.  Here I am in a room with Yvo de Boer himself giving a briefing to the press.  I am in a position to say anything I want to him, on the record, in front of the cameras.  Pretty heady stuff.  I carefully honed my question, drafting and refining while the briefing went on.  But when time came for questions only three were taken, and two of these went to the Polish press as a courtesy to the host country.  I would not, after all these carbon-miles, get to ask my question.

Not being one to give up so easily, as soon as the press briefing was over, I was standing in front of Mr. de Boer, looking him in the eyes and asking my question.  I had literally come all this way to ask this question, to plant this seed.  “Isn’t the global financial meltdown an opportunity of massive proportions, an opportunity to step back from the brink of those fearsome tipping points, and so a blessing in disguise?  Isn’t it a ‘shock point’, during which we might redefine the very paradigm of ‘economy’ by which the modern world is run, from one where the highest good is the ever accelerating growth, consumption and accumulation of wealth?  Isn’t it this post-modern religion of Economism that is resulting in the fever of our planet?”  My question to him was as brief as I could make it, but intended to set a seed of change in the mind of this man, that Economism and Consumerism were dis-eases of humankind and of all Life on Earth.

His response was thoughtful, as he returned my gaze.  His reply was that, yes, it was an opportunity to reorient financial flows.  That the financial crisis came out of bad lending in the mortgage markets.  That if, after recovery, bad lending of a different sort ensued, lending to project of the old kind, then surely climate tragedy would occur.  But no, it was not a blessing in disguise because it was engendering human suffering… the suffering of African farmers, for example, whose livelihood depends on the cut flowers that they grow, and which would, as a luxury item, be left out of the shopping carts of Europe.

The answer was a good one.  He is a smart, wise, and compassionate man.  I would not mind in the least working under his leadership.  But wasn’t he missing the larger point?  Is it our right to threaten the existence of Life on Earth by our wasteful ways? Was I successful in planting my seed?  How can I make the world awaken to the idea that ‘the emperor has no clothes’, that the pseudo-religions of Consumerism and Economism are the idolatries of our age?  Will you, the reader, help me spread this new paradigm?

The healing of our world will not be done alone by substitution of ‘buying green’ for simple consumerism, but by humankind re-learning and re-membering to value uneconomic, immaterial ‘goods’ over the mundane material sort.

For the Earth – §


The Conference Opening

December 1, 2008

December 1st – The opening meeting in one of four ‘great halls’ was impressive and awe-inspiring.  The sheer size of the room and the huge number of people in attendance (several thousand I would estimate) was moving in and of itself.  The knowledge that most of us were here as defenders of the Earth, was even more so.  But then there is that little gnawing feeling inside that not all of us are on the same page here; that while ostensibly the conference is to save the planet from our own blind, avaricious folly, there are still many fools in the room (more on that later… when I tell of the press conference by the US today).

The meeting was replete with a sedate, respectful, and understated equivalent of ‘pomp and circumstance’.  We were addressed by the outgoing president of the Conference of Parties (COP) from Indonesia, the host of last year’s Bali conference, after which there was a completely nominal and symbolic ‘election’ (assent by simple applause) of the president of the COP for the year until the final meeting next December in Copenhagen.  This year’s president is the Polish Minister of the Environment, as Poland is this year’s host.  The Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the entire FCCC also spoke, as did the Environment Minister from Denmark, next year’s host.  Dr. Patchauri, the head of the IPCC, the UN’s scientific panel on climate change… all 2500 of them, also addressed the assembled delegates, observers, and press.

While these speeches might on one level have seemed rote and dry, and indeed they were largely scripted speeches, they were awesome in another regard.  Each and every speaker drove home the same theme, namely that these talks are the ‘real deal’, that humanity is facing peril of gross proportions, and the dire consequences of a failure to act, or act quickly and resolutely enough, will be perilous in the extreme to the entire fabric of Life on Earth.  I believe it was the Danish environment minister who made the point that ‘this is not science fiction’.  But I think most people will still have to struggle to recognize the reality and imminence of the peril.  Maslow was right.

It is my hope that this conference will make first page news all around the world.  It is my wish that the community of journalists around the world will do an adequate job of conveying the gravity of our situation to the peoples of the world.  It is my prayer that those in  positions of power and influence take the dangers to heart, and that all self-interested motives be overridden and overwhelmed by a groundswell of public and private opinion, if not raw conscience of the remaining spoilers of the planet.

Ever so much I am reminded of my reason for being here… my deep commitment to do what I can to make a difference here in Poznan.  With the US delegation doing a press briefing today, I believe I will have my chance.

For the Earth – §


Difficult problems, simple solutions

November 26, 2008

Welcome to the Interdependence Journal, dedicated to the proposition that all forms of life on Earth are equally valuable and, in the sum total of global ecology, are indispensable.  It is dedicated to exploring the critical challenges to humanity of climate change and sustainability, as well as both the simple and complex solutions.

Some of the dates of particular postings will differ from the ‘official’ dates they were posted since many may be written offline and uploaded as web access permits. As the ‘editor-in-chief’ (as well as the sole staff member), I warmly welcome your comments and communication directed to info@climatecorps.org.  All opinions expressed herein are mine, and all depictions of people are intended to be factual, albeit subjective.

For the Earth,
Stuart Scott – §