02 December 2012

The Life Jackets are Going On

It's been a strange week, hasn't it? A whole lot of underwhelm from Doha, Qatar, where climate change negotiators at the international climate change talks, as usual, seem to be bigger deniers of the planetary emergency than the deniers are. It creates, for me at least, a surreal sense that nothing is as my eyes are telling me. But then I'm snapped back to reality, and the true nature of the climate crisis, by some obscure bit of news (see below).

Reminds me of something that happened 14 years ago. That's when we moved to this small island community. During our first week here, we had to head back to the mainland for provisions. But as soon as we got out of the dock, the ferry started heaving and shifting. We hadn't realized how bad the winds were, and it felt like we were sailing into trouble. We literally (and I mean literally literally, not figuratively literally) had to hang on to our seats. The ferry kept going and my hubby and I kept looking at each other as though these might be our last few moments together. (Naive island newbies!)

And then a crewman walked by. In his uniform. Only his uniform. As in, no life jacket. That's when I turned to Peter and said, "When the crew start putting on life jackets, that's when we'll know it's time to panic. Until then, let's just enjoy the roller coaster ride." (I've always been one for rides at the carnival, so I was up for a cheap thrill. Peter wasn't quite as convinced.)

Well, folks, guess what's happening in the world right now? The "crew" are putting on their flippin' life jackets! Here's the quiet news: Rich people are buying up agricultural land all over the world! (Well, in parts of the world where agriculture isn't doomed. So exclude the bread baskets of the world, because they are condemned now due to disappearing Arctic summer sea ice.) And it ain't because they suddenly want to become farmers and sink their hands into the soil.

Wealthy people are waking up to the food crisis we're staring at. While so many of the rest of us are turning our heads away from the prospect (naaah, couldn't really be happening here in North America; scientists told us we might benefit from global warming), the affluent know exactly where to invest in order to (a) make as much money off the crop losses and famines as possible, and (b) ensure that they survive longest. (This really is a game for the one percent. A game to the death.)

So there it is. My analogy for the week. Negotiators at Doha, wake up! If rich people are being advised to buy up agricultural land, then you've got to admit the urgency of the emergency. 

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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?