In Praise of All Summits, Colltalers
Let’s talk. Humanity may’ve been spared the ultimate doom a few times over by the sheer power of these three words. As another equivalent of a personal heart-to-heart concluded in Paris, this time on climate change, we should hold on to them for our dear lives.
The final document of the U.N. conference on the environment may not say much. Leaders of 195 nations may’ve wasted a lot of translator hours all week, without clear conclusions. But at the end of Saturday, there were a document, and that’s what we’ve got.
Of course, it could’ve been better. They could’ve at least established clearer monitoring regulations, for instance, or set goals in tandem with respect to human rights. Critics also heard little on climate change-damage already inflicted, unfairly, on poor nations.
It should be added too that there are always those demanding faster action, and a more radical approach against big oil and coal, the industries most directly responsible for profiting out of an economic model that’s progressively destroying the entire planet.
But we take what we get, and what we’ve got was clearer better than before. Here’s a thought to be entertained whenever someone shows impatience with this kind of high-level conference, for lacking ‘action:’ what’s the alternative?
The Paris Conference on Climate Change ended just as many before it, but a bit closer to what may assure us a tomorrow. Yes, there was a lot of wasteful rhetoric, a lot of grandstanding, and just as many
attempts at clamping it down as the threat of terrorism, now a staple to scare everyone into paralysis, made it possible. But the good news is that, despite all of that, it did get closer to that future.
Among the resolutions, nations have agreed to keep global temperature averages from rising above 2 degrees Celsius (3,5 F) from pre-industrial levels; to be accountable about emission-reduction commitments, and gather every five years to check progress; and to support impoverished countries in their efforts to abandon carbon-based models for growth, without collapsing economically.
And more, but many may still say that it is not much. And it isn’t. Where’s the focus on preparing workers for the new labor market realities? How does the role of women as providers fit in this scheme, and what exactly will be done for boosting environmental literacy and education around the world? Enough unanswered questions to discourage even the stronger willed among us.
To some, all the money, and speeches, and contrived statements, and terse negotiations behind doors, along with the massive carbon imprint left from the conference itself, could’ve been better spent with the very problems these nations claim to be willing to address.
Perhaps. But so what? Like diplomacy, and peace talks, and special summits, and high-level security meetings, what’s not accomplished still beats the devastating consequences of not having tried. It’s the common denominator between those who say they’re ‘starving,’ for having skipped a meal, and those whose next meal may not come in time for saving them from starvation.
Peace talks, for instance, were two particularly vilified words during the 1960s. Mocked and reduced to a punchline, they reflected the public puzzlement of having so many of them without anyone knowing what the hell they were supposed to accomplish.
Well, surprise, surprise: the very real threat of an atomic bomb attack on a major city never materialized and guess what may’ve prevented that from happening? All those silly, tax-payer wasting, anxiety-fueling, and tension-ridden ‘détente’ talks, that’s what.
As a rule, we should all be weary about those who constantly ask for more ‘action,’ for their minds may be a tad too suffused with that American myth, of the unflinching hero, created mainly by those who scream that word for a living: Hollywood movie directors.
Even though for the majority, there is no way to confuse films with reality, there are still those who trust better the trigger and the barrel over the human ability of coming to an understanding, and we’re afraid that a significant number of them have Pentagon jobs.
So a summit is not a catchall or panacea, but as long as resolutions are reached, and common ground found, the negotiations table will always beat the carnage in the battlefield as a way forward. And, mind you, it’s no place for the faint of heart either.
Half-jokingly, others may add that, compared to what goes on between some couples and/or extended families, to invite someone to talk is always a better proposition that its cousin, ‘we need to talk.’ But let those sleeping dogs lie undisturbed for now. We digress.
s for the issue of climate change, and the consequences of rapidly degrading global environmental conditions, the ultimate task to be accomplished, the one no world leader, or expensive forum, can accomplish, is to change the hearts and minds of people.
That means you and I, and our relatives, and close circle of friends, our local communities and elected representatives, and specially, those under our charge, who depend of our example and actions to take upon themselves the commitments needed for it to advance.
There will be always talk, and thank goodness for that. But when it comes to action, we should trust ourselves rather than delegate it to armies and generals. They’ll be more than willing, naturally, but most likely, will make a mess of it all, as they usually do.
Here, a world of caution, though: don’t become an insufferable bore, preaching and torturing those poor souls who once dared to stick with you, and now have to endure you endless diatribe about how we need to save the world. For you may find yourself quickly on your own, with no one wanting to sit next to you at dinner parties. Plus, they will call you a dope behind your back. Just saying.
We don’t want that. And if we require yet more talks and summits, and endless discussions, and proposals that need much improvement, and ideas that are thirsty for support, so be it. Because, after all, what’s the alternative? Have a great one. WC