11 May 2014

Let's Ride This Wave of Rising Awareness All the Way to Paris

by Sandy Hinden
"We are in the midst of an awakening. At no time in history has Mother Earth needed her children to care more than at present. Ancient prophecies from around the world warn of dramatic global change. The Elders teach [that] if we return to harmony in our lives, Melting the Ice in our Hearts, we will survive." -- Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq

For years, we've known that governments weren't going to look after us by taking care of the climate crisis. We're living in a corporatocracy where governments are controlled by corporate interests, and it's not in the financial interest of big banks and fossil fuel companies to take care of the climate crisis. Which translates into the rich people still own us and control us.

I've naively believed that if we let people know what's going on in the world, they would wake up and give a damn. Not so. It's been a pretty comfortable ride for my generation ... the best ride in humanity's history perhaps ... and nobody wants to rock a boat that seems to be taking them on a scenic cruise. 

But as I reported here, the public is finally waking up. The spate of climate change reports (the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report, or AR5; the US National Climate Assessment) has people talking. To wake people up, it took big media coverage of big scientific organizations and big important people saying that this is an urgent crisis. 

That's okay. Any alarm clock will do. (I just wish it had rung earlier. It's not like these groups and politicians haven't known the urgency until now. It's just that they can't deny the urgency any longer, corporate interests be damned. Election campaign donations? Or votes? Perhaps votes are finally winning.)

But as my friend suggests whenever this topic comes up, "If you wake people up, you'd better have breakfast ready for them." It's been common wisdom for years that talking to people about climate change must also include talking to people about climate change solutions.

Hence, after a long discussion with two climate change activists last night, we came to the conclusion that we have to hop onto this wave of awareness and GET OUR BUTTS IN GEAR FOR PARIS 2015. After the complete (and probably completely scripted) debacle at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009, a very scary decision was made by negotiators and world leaders at the Cancun talks in 2010 that there would be no agreement until 2015, and therefore no new measures implemented until 2020. 

We've had the Bali Roadmap, the Cancun Agreements, the Durban Outcomes, the Doha Climate Gateway, and the Warsaw Outcomes. And nothing has improved. Indeed, things are still getting worse. Emissions are rising, and impacts are deepening. 

But the public is now realizing that "urgent" means "now" --  not starting in 2020. In the IPCC's latest report, the only scenario (RCP2.6) that gives us a hope in hell says that greenhouse gas emissions have to plateau by next year (hello!) and be decreasing by 2020 (apparently not something we're willing or able to make happen overnight -- or we would have already). 

Christiana Figueres, head of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, knows this and is calling on different groups to get their butts in gear (my term, not hers) "in the lead up to a new, universal climate change agreement in Paris." She said in a recent speech, for example, that faith groups "have an opportunity now to provide a moral compass for their congregations and for political, corporate, financial and local leaders."

So, folks, we've got our homework assignment. It's to make sure that world leaders at the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP 21 -- memorize that number) can't, won't and don't wiggle out of an effective, efficient and binding global agreement to safeguard the biosphere and the future of humanity and the rest of nature. We figure the script is written six months ahead of each conference. That gives us one year to make sure something excellent happens in Paris.

And hey, if pigs could surf, maybe we could even get an agreement in Lima, Peru at the COP 20. You know, come up with an urgent agreement to take urgent action on an urgent crisis. But who am I kidding?

Wait, what? Pigs can surf?

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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?