30 June 2009

159 Days - What Role Does Trust Play in Our Climate Change Solutions?

"Trust" has been a recurring theme in my life these last few days (including in my dreams at night), and maybe that's for a reason. What role does, or should, trust play in our climate change deliberations?

I keep reading reports from high level United Nations meetings or OECD meetings that underscore a perverse sort of trust: We can definitely, it appears, trust developed nations to ignore their role in the climate crisis (not to mention the economic crisis), and to do whatever they can to not have to change.

But that's not the kind of trust I mean.
Wouldn't it be great to be able to trust that politicians at all levels will remember their humanity and act as human beings (there is certainly reason to doubt this at times, when we witness their staunch refusal to grasp that human life is dependent on the rest of Life), with children and grandchildren whose future they care about?

Wouldn't it be great to be able to trust that our neighbours and friends and fellow community members will always (well, almost always) put the collective benefit before their own personal desires? ("I need chocolate chips... I must have chocolate chips NOW... I'll just run —read: burn fossil fuels by driving — to the store and get some" becomes "Oh well, I'm out of chocolate chips. The next time I'm out shopping, I'll buy some. Tonight, I'll make oatmeal raisin cookies rather than chocolate chip cookies.")

And finally, how do we come to trust ourselves, so that when that choice point comes (flying away on vacation or staying close to home, for example), we do what is for the greatest good of everyone, and not just our small circle of family and friends?
In other words, how do we become trustworthy in the face of climate change? Is it like forming a new habit? They say it takes three weeks to form a new habit, whether good or bad — so how about saying no to driving, flying, heating, burning, buying for 21 days, to see how it feels? How about if we spend three weeks always putting the face of an African child in our mind's eye when making a decision that could release carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the (our shared) atmosphere? What about discussing every climate-change-related decision with someone else before making it?

And what if, when we write to politicians and others (climate scientists or environmental groups? big banks and big corporations?) in whom we must entrust our future, we use the language of trust? For example, "Dear Mr/s. President or Prime Minister, may I trust that you will do everything — absolutely everything, at every opportunity — you can to safeguard the future of your children and mine?"

Let's plant the seed of trust ... and maybe those in charge of our climate future will become truly worthy of our trust.

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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?