24 June 2012

If We Don't Know Where We Need to Go ...

[With an apology right up front to my American activist friends, who must be feeling as downhearted as I am, post Rio+20 (not that I had high expectations). And with apologies to the world for the part my country, Canada, played in opposing the call to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. We're working hard to oust our Prime Minister of Tar Sands, believe me!]

I wanted to use this post to rail against the Americans, or at least the American government and its negotiators at the Rio+20 conference, which ended Friday, June 22. Why do we keep inviting them to the party when we know they're party poopers out to sabotage all our efforts? Why don't we start boycotting them? Or simply not allowing them to attend international meetings about the future of life on this planet?

But I won't. I know there are approximately 37 Americans working very hard to change things. I know the rest have been numbed and dumbed by TV, Hollywood, video games, Facebook, Madison Avenue, a lousy education system, a deliberately created economic crisis, and the incessant drone of commercialism, materialism, and greed (draped in "American dream" clothing).

So no, I won't go on and on about America's bullying, foot dragging, obfuscation and downright lack of respect and cooperation when it comes to climate change and other environmental negotiations on the international front. (But I must ask, what kind of "tough love" will help the U.S. see that what's in our best interest is in their best interest? Oh, I know, I know. The 1% are responsible. The Big Money, Big Oil folks are determining American policies. But Big Money and Big Oil, well, they are actually people, and people with children – whose future they are foreclosing on. So what's best for the rest of the world is what's best for their kids, too.)

Okay, then. If I'm not going to continue railing against America, let me just quote one of their negotiators at the Rio+20 conference:
"I think the expectation that there is one document or one approach that can solve one of the major questions of our time – how do you maintain economic growth and protect the environment? – there's not one paper that can do that."                  — Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Hence the title of this post. Dr. Jones and her puppeteers just don't seem to get it. We needed to stop focusing on "economic growth" ages ago, and start heading toward sustainable development (human development that respects the ecological principles that govern life on Earth first, and then seeks and integrates social equity and economic well being). Why are we still stuck in that 20th century meme of "economic growth"? Or, as green designer Bill McDonough points out, why have we still not figured out what kind of growth we need? Growth in fossil fuel industry or growth in perpetual energy sources? Growth in sickness or growth in health? Growth in food scarcity or growth in food security?

I just keep thinking of that Yogi Berra quote: "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

We know where we need to get to. It promises to be an exciting, transformative journey, once we start down that new path. Isn't there some way the 99% could wake up and convince the 1% that their path is a deadly dead end? One way might be to insist that those with plans to ruin the party aren't invited to the party in the first place. (And that should include Canada, too, until we get a representative government again.) Until then, these international circuses will continue to be sad, sorry, wasteful farces.

"This is an outcome that makes nobody happy. My job was to make everyone equally unhappy." 
—Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of the Rio+20 conference

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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?