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
Artificial lab made meat kind of vaguely reminds me of Soylent Green… 😉 No, it is not meant as a criticism – just a thought that passed by in reading, Fernanda… 🙂
I like the way how you try to find a way between hope and doubt in what you wrote. It mirrors a lot of my own thoughts and feelings about the ‘agreement’… And only the future can show us what will come of it and if nature will oblige by staying under the set limit of 2°C… It is all too easy to set off a chain reaction but to stop it is another issue all together (that’s the dark side of my mind that has too much respect for the power of nature to believe we can turn it on and off like the lights at home – please don’t send me a bolt of lightning for that thought… 😉 )
But there is also another aspect to it all that keeps on gnawing at my brains. The pictures of Irak after the first attack years ago, the oil wells in flames, pictures of bombing even to this day sending heaven knows what into the atmosphere, all those fighter jets in the air… nobody ever mentiones those things and what they are doing to the environment. And no, I won’t go into what it does to people here…
I agree with you in spite of all my doubts that the talk should go on, though… It is the only door where a ray of light might find it’s way in…
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It’s true, just the carbon print left by these talks is enough to make one wonder.But doubts and criticism are healthy ways to keep the discussion open and progressive. Thanks for your input. Cheers
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…and Soylent Green reminds me of Brave New World which, sometimes, makes me think whether that could be the solution to our world… (don’t get me wrong, Nil! I ‘think’ I’m far from being a fascist…)
I totally agree when you say that many are the sources of pollution. From the flames in Irak to the toxic mud leaking from a broken dam in the country side of Brazil, to oil spills in the oceans…you name it. It’s a real challenge to even think that all this can be stopped. But then, what should we do? I confess there are days I’d rather not be here to see it all over again…Some other days I think that if that’s how it is, it’s because that’s the way it’s supposed to be! After all, the planet doesn’t give a damn about its beings! However, I can no longer look at the world around me and say I have not taken part in building it this way. I am responsible for everything. We all are. I see it. And I’m aware of the fact that many are suffering. That’s the reason why I try to choose differently from what I always have. And here is another confession (I’m not taking you for a priest, I swear!) most of the times I think I’m just deceiving myself…
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This summit was just more of the same. I wonder how many of those who were there are willing to stop eating meat (according to FAO, in a document published some 5 or more years ago, #1 cause of carbon emissions followed by car emissions), or how many are willing to change their cars for public transportation, or change possibly 80% of their current lifestyle. For nothing will change if we don’t change our everyday choices. As simple as that. Because the Earth, as we’ve designed it, will not take this ‘model’ much longer. Just look at the way those people attending the summit live and you’ll see the real chances of changing anything.
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So true. It can be discouraging some times. You’ve touched the core of the problem: behavioral change. That’s what makes it so hard, but oddly, possible too. For no one needs to wait until the big wigs change; if enough take that step, those who don’t will be run over. A bit oversimplifying, I know, but ultimately, worth trying. Thanks for your input. Beijo
The pont is money, of course. But I’m not against it at all! The thing is, there have to be lots of possibilities that generate lots of money. For example, they’ll soon come up with an artificial, lab made meat. It’s claimed to be exactly as the ‘real’ thing. If it is, if people like it and if the ones who produce it can make lots of more money than raising cattle, things will change. And so will everything else. We have to promote (give our money) the things that don’t hurt anyone. We have to demand options to the traditional stuff that harm other beings and damage the environment. It isn’t easy but as ‘I don’t believe in reincarnation and have just one life to live’ I choose to live in a not so thoughtless way. Beijos.
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