I feel like I’m watching some fictitious tragic comedy when checking in on what’s going on in Durban, South Africa. It’s completely ridiculous. Our world ‘leaders’ are struggling for an ‘ambitious’ plan to cut our emissions MUCH too little FAR too late. I don’t know if I should scratch my head in confusion, cover my face in disappointment, or raise my hands and scream in frustration. In the end, I sit frozen, frozen in the realization that our country’s leaders (and, suffice it to say, the people who elect them) would rather give millions or billions of people the death sentence, and torture & struggle sentences, than look the issue straight in the eyes and force through considerable reductions in global warming emissions.
Why are these ‘leaders,’ and those they represent, not trying the be the world’s best citizen, not trying to say “Hey, I bet you can’t do better than us!“?
Why is our #1 negotiating strategy “I’ll only do something if you do more.”?
This is pitiful!
It is humorous in its absurdity. But it is tragic in what it means for the world’s citizens today, in the coming decades and century, and probably even beyond.
A reminder of how absurd the negotiations are comes to us from one of the world’s top climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen of NASA. ”The target of 2C… is a prescription for long-term disaster,” Dr. Hansen says. ”We should be aiming to keep CO2 no higher than about 350ppm and possibly somewhat less.”
But climate negotiators are far, far from a 350 target, and they are not even in reach of 2 degrees Celsius (as far as I can tell, that is off the table). That we are going to stop catastrophic climate change from this process is a joke….
How Did We Get Here? & How Will We Move Forward?
Whether it’s in my blood or something I picked up along the path of my growth and development, I don’t throw in the towel until the game is, literally, over. As far as I can remember, I never have. When it comes to the issue of world catastrophe, the logic in doing so would be even more ridiculous.
So, with this process in shambles, there is an urgent need to see what got us here and how we can perhaps avoid what seems to be looming ahead.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that our world, the people of our world, have become complacent. We think that our biggest problems are that the remote control is too far away, or that we can’t afford a vacation to a tropical island (which could soon be underwater), or that our favorite TV show has been cancelled. We assume that water, food, and a livable climate are a God-given right, or Nature-given right.
Guess what? If you look into the scientific literature, you can see that continuing on our path could very well lead us to a world humans cannot live on. Forget the internet dying for a few minutes. Forget having to get out of bed and go to work. We’re talking about LIVEABILITY.
The task: we need to wake up the world. Or, we, who are informed enough, have to live with the guilt of doing nothing in the face of this knowledge and this looming catastrophe. (I know what I’m choosing.) Waking up the world doesn’t just mean informing people, though — it means getting people to get off their butts and do something about this.
The methods: I’ve been working on this issue for a long time, many years, and you can be sure I’m far from mastering how to do this. But there are many things I have learned along the way. So, the methods, in my opinion, need to include the following:
- Humor — people are addicted to humor, and they will avoid every problem in the world if it makes them cry and never laugh. Humor has to be a part of the solution.
- Beauty — people are attracted to beauty, they respect beauty. Our education and action should bring beauty into their lives!
- Direct Action — with Big Money against change, and Big Laziness against change, we NEED direct action. From ending slavery to giving women equal rights as men to toppling dictatorships and unhelpful governments to stopping the tar sands pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, direct action has proven itself time and time again. It grabs attention, and it forces action.
- Other Action — other than direct action, we need people to share what’s important on their social networks, on social media, on email, and in conversations with others. Again, the above changes didn’t come about from people holding their tongues, or, in this digital age, their index fingers. Take action in these other ways, but don’t let this action ease you into complacency — I put direct action above this for a reason.
Let’s get started! Share this piece and let’s go create some positive change!
Screw via shutterstock
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.