27 November 2011

Durban, Meet Copenhagen - You Might Have Some Lessons to Learn

Tomorrow begins COP 17, the next great climate change circus. It is shaping up to be the worst set of climate talks yet ... leaders of all the rich nations have already decided they're only going for the champagne.

So, knowing this is an exercise in surreal futility, I would like to offer up a Copenhagen redux of past Compassionate Climate Action posts for Durban.

1. What the heck are all the women there, at the talks, doing? Why aren't they fighting for the right of their children and grandchildren to have a climate-safe future?

2. I can no longer be nice about this. Seriously, it's getting harder and harder to be nice to idiots who refuse to even look at, let alone examine, this excruciatingly difficult issue. I don't care that it's excruciatingly difficult — and might cause some emotional pain. Our emotional pain is laughable in the face of the pain that future generations are going to face. To not even want to know about it? From The Gloves are Off: No More Ms. Nice Guy:

The sense of failure and progenycidal disaster coming out of the Copenhagen climate talks hangs over me like a black cloud of betrayal. It seems that our human world is so entrenched in borders and boundaries and sovereignty that the negotiators and leaders just could not view the Earth as one planet, its atmosphere as the same atmosphere for all nations. The only thing that has been nearly globalized is our addiction to economic growth through fossil fuel use.
3. Hey, where's John Lennon when you need him? Power to the People! Time for a revolution, folks. No, wait, we've got one happening already! If someone from Occupy Wall Street wants to call me up, I'll explain how moving to a safer, cleaner, healthier, more equitable and more peaceful perpetual (= renewable minus biofuels; The Burning Age is Over) energy economy will help them attain their goals. With all the economic breakdown in the USA, still people have no sense of how bad things are going to become when the summer Arctic sea ice disappears, taking with it the "air conditioning" for our summer growing season. A couple of years of bad crops failures in the northern hemisphere and POWWEE! economic chaos. And we thought only developing nations, like those in Africa, would be impacted. Ha.

4. We still see no willingness to sacrifice one iota of comfort or economic "growth" from the developed nations of the world. And yet, as Reuters' Edwards Hadas says, "Even for the very rich, the sacrifices needed to reduce inequality would be mild." And right now, the greatest inequality humanity faces is through our decision that future generations of human children don't have the right to live in a stable climate. Ah, but governments can't do everything alone.

5. I still believe that compassion will be what saves us. I have yet, in two and a  half years of blogging, to hear from one person (denier, skeptic, ignorati, delayer or otherwise) who has an argument against compassion. I think they know that, in the end, compassion will encompass them and their loved ones, too.

p.s. Illustration used with permission.


  1. I came upon your statement, "I still believe that compassion will be what saves us," ... (in this case the ellipsis goes on for some time for fear of breaking the spell)

    not only compassion I would say, but a non-doctrinaire compassion

    I put up this excerpt from Charles Taylor ( http://whoami-whoareyou.blogspot.com/2011/02/blue-tail-fly.html#Btf02 ) and even sent copies of the book to Mardi Tindal & Herb Gale after I heard them speak in a panel discussion here in Toronto in May but so far I have not succeeded in beginning a single conversation on the subject, too crazy I guess (who could be thinking seriously about what is going on with the environment and be sane?)

    so, I will have a closer look at your blog and maybe have more to say

    be well.

  2. Hi David,
    Thanks for writing! Your blog rocks ... it's so everywhere all at once, like a collage, and yet so focussed!

    Alas, I can't imagine a "doctrinaire" compassion. "To suffer with" - how can that become or be made doctrinaire? Just wondering ... I don't get out much. What are you picturing?

    All I know is that when an image of African children, already shouldering so many tragedies, abuses, catastrophes, comes to mind, I cry. Sometimes I weep. And sometimes I sob. That's what makes me do this hard work. It's for them. So that I don't go insane with the knowing and not doing. (As you so rightly point out, "Who could be thinking seriously about what is going on with the environment and be sane?")

    Take care, and I'd love to hear from you again!

  3. well, when I say 'non-doctrinaire' I am thinking of the opposite of prescribed, ordained, compelled (in one way and another) - the opposite, or, say, the literal origin of, a 'commandment' - I guess you didn't read Illich's take on it (as related by Charles Taylor at the link I posted) that might make it clearer

    in a nutshell it is a reaction from the gut rather than the superego, or a reaction honestly (heart)felt as opposed to originating in some kind of guilt-trip

    if that is any better (?) - really, Illich & Taylor lay it out plain for me

    what I am 'picturing' is that perverse & pervasive hypocrisy, the hand-wringing, the smug pretence that human life is sacred - when five minutes in any newspaper shows it up for false

    can't sleep tonight thinking of what that sleveen Peter Kent is doing in Durban - so, trying to re-write Little Jack Horner to fit this photograph ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecclimate/6468800531/ )

    be well.


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?