05 December 2009

1 Day to Copenhagen - Things to Remember

We're almost done together. One more day. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey. I want to leave you with some things to remember....

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A large proportion of the people who don't "believe in" global warming are probably amongst the scientifically and ecologically illiterate. For example, about 30% of Europeans and Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth. Keep that in mind when you read or hear denialist drivel online and in letters to the editor and on TV and radio.

Global warming causes climate disruption. It doesn't mean everywhere is going to be warmer all the time. Disruption = chaos, unpredictability in the climate system. And that, along with droughts and some scorching summers too hot for agriculture (leading to crop failures), will be what ruins human civilization (we're an agricultural species dependent on a stable climate), killing our chances of surviving as a species.

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Some deniers say things that are just simply bonkers, to wit:

"The anti-western intellectual cranks of the left suffered a collective breakdown when communism collapsed. Climate change is their new theology. But the heretics will have a voice in Copenhagen and the truth will out. Climate change is being used to impose an anti-human utopia as deadly as anything conceived by Stalin or Mao."
— Nick Griffin, British National Party, 29 November 2009 in
The Guardian

Others are really good at bamboozling people by sounding really scientific. And since a whacking huge proportion of us are scientifically illiterate, we sort of fall under their spell (well, I don't). Remember that they are doing this on purpose, to sway public opinion in order to maintain the status quo so that they don't have to change anything. If they were real climate scientists, you probably wouldn't be reading them because their findings would be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that we don't read.

And then there are those even more evil deniers (the Bjorn Lomborgs of the world) who spew platitudes like safeguarding the future from climate chaos will shortchange all the poor people in the world today. And people fall for that fake sanctimonious claptrap. Remember, never believe anyone who says the poor people will lose out if we spend money now on combatting climate change (they're already losing out) ... the Cybjorns have no intention of giving that money to the poor people or poor nations. Or they would have done so by now, keeping the commitment they made in 1992 when they signed onto the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

When you read or hear a comment from a skeptic/denier/ignorer/delayer, think money. Think greed. Think investments in fossil fuels. These people have nothing to gain worth gaining, but they don't view it that way. Life as a fundamental value means nothing to these people. Money is everything to them. It's all a game and money is the prize. If you look at what they have to say through this lens, it will usually make sense and their evil will be quite evident.

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  • The most important number in the world is zero. The most important number in 350 is that zero at the end. Zero carbon emissions. We can achieve that. But it means that any more use of fossil fuels is for helping us get to zero carbon (building solar arrays and wind turbines and public transit systems).
  • Hey, just leave the coal and tar sands oil in the ground. It's not like it's going anywhere. Once we've got this whole thing figured out, you can go find it again.
  • Global warming is the science of physics. And if you're scientifically illiterate, then you're going to want to go with someone who isn't, like a scientist who studies global warming.
  • What's happening to the children in climate-ravaged parts of Africa today will soon be happening to our children. How much do we love the children in our lives?
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My husband, now retired, was a family physician for almost 40 years, and a busy one at that! He had to deliver sad news and bad news to hundreds if not thousands of people throughout his career. Never, he will assure you, never once did he have a patient who received news of a terminal illness and shut down, overwhelmed. No, they all fought. They all did what they could. They all did something. Some got better. Many died. But none of them gave up.

I, for one, will never give up, despite the diagnosis — and the prognosis. I love this sacred planet and its children too much. If we're going down, I'm going down fighting for what I cherish.

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We have to continue to be the town crier.
— Richard Habgood

We still have a long way to go so we must be brave and of good cheer and keep the good energy. That takes work, too! No point being grumpy about all this — life is too good
and not worth spending in a funk.
— Elise Houghton

Instead of shaking our heads at the difficulty of this task and saying, "Woe is us, this is impossible, how can we do this?", we ought to feel a sense of joy that we have work that is worth doing, that is so important to the future of all humankind. We ought to feel a sense of exhilaration that we are the people alive at a moment in history when we can make all the difference."
— Al Gore

Inscribe this single word on your heart:
Compassion
Whenever you are confused, keep heading in the direction that leads towards deepening your love and care for all living beings, including yourself, and you will never stray far from the path to fulfillment.
— Sam Keen
[My note: I would like to substitute "survival" for fulfillment.]

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I still believe that compassion will be what saves us. Remember to open your heart and allow yourself to feel the pain of what's happening already in the world and what is to come. Feel compassion for those already losing their lives and their livelihoods, their food security and their water sources, their homes and their entire homelands. Feel compassion for your children and grandchildren, for all future generations, of all species.

And then start writing those letters to your government leaders, attending those meetings, talking with friends and family, learning what you need to learn to counter the lies and procrastination. (Learning is a form of action.)

The world is still in our hands.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?