18 May 2014

From Lima to Paris, or Bust!

"While the difficult takes time,
the impossible just takes a little longer." 
- Art E. Berg

I just noticed that in April (2014), CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere hit 401.33 ppm. The dreaded 400 ppm upper limit has been breached. Ouch. Angst.

Quite by coincidence, for the last few days I've been trying to figure out if I'm up for one last big push, between now and the next climate change conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru in December of this year. You know, get all the governments in the world to agree to agree in Paris at the COP21 in 2015. And then maybe pack it in. Start working on local issues again. Or take a break? I dunno. I do know in my head it's probably already too late for an effective global agreement, but my heart keeps believing in miracles.
  1. What if, in the next few months, we could convince scientists to state categorically that we're beyond dangerous interference with the climate system?
  2. What if, in the next few months, we could convince NGOs everywhere to urge governments to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels and let the "invisible hand" of their precious "free" market (ahem, it's not a free(dom-from-government-interference) market if governments are pouring $2 trillion of fossil fuel subsidies into it annually, now is it?) fix the carbon problem?
  3. What if, in the next few months, we could achieve the impossible and get governments to commit, by law, to a zero-carbon economy and a climate-safe future?

I asked a friend for advice (and moral support, really, for making this commitment to an 18-month-long campaign), and he did an excellent job of reminding me why I do this work to begin with. And then he gave me a virtual kick in the pants. He asked:

If you lead (in life) with your heart, it's going to get broken along the way. Should you then stop leading with your heart? 
If the end hasn't arrived yet, why stop trying until it does? 
If you love the children (and parents) of all species, shouldn't you - and don't you - want to keep trying to help them?

"It's hard to try," he continued, "but I think for people of certain character, it's just as hard (or harder?) not to try and not to act."

This friend shared with me a line he uses when others are defeatist: "Regardless of odds or potential outcomes, we ALL have the power and moral responsibility to ACT. And if we take the choice to see and face the true, existential wickedness of the predicament, there will at least be possibilities.... What matters (if anything does) is how we choose to live, how we choose to act / react, regardless of whether something's going to work out or not." 

Hey, he reminded me, we're all gonna die. So I might as well die (or in my case, get old ... I'm not ready to die yet) trying.

With all that encouragement (and butt-kicking), how can I not commit myself to campaigning for a strong agreement in Lima to agree strongly in Paris?

I hope you'll join me on this virtual carpet ride from Lima to Paris, or bust! (And never has "or bust" been so dire, or so literal, since it means "... or die trying.")

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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?