November 19, 2009

Carbon Pumping Label Junkies

Filed under: Climate Change,Human Rights — ken finn @ 11:39 am


We await the latest round of climate negotiations to begin in Copenhagen as if some great contest is about to begin. Who will blink, who will win the advantage? How far will they go and what is politically possible?  Somehow the whole concept is like a bunch of people in a hot tub arguing over who gets to defecate in the water and with what regularity.

At the heart of problem is the belief that we are separate from one another, that as individuals we are islands of consciousness that operate in an environment that begins at the outer layer of our skin. What’s inside is self and what’s outside is other. To navigate this world of separateness we attach labels to everything even the intangibles like faith.

Inside our skin we have labels for our sensations and the feelings they invoke and we have a mental map of how our body works too. We  know that our beating heart is separate from the functioning of our bowel or the workings of the brain but there is an understanding that all this is connected and interdependent.

Inside the body as far as I know there are no negotiations going on; the brain needs blood and the heart delivers. It’s in our nature to understand the interdependence of the system, that without a functioning brain our heart would also die. This service the heart offers to the brain may described as a transaction but it comes without condition for benefit of mutual survival.

Outside our body it seems that we have lost sight of our part in a larger interdependent system.  As a species we spread across the earth evolving along the way to meet the conditions that we found, we developed language and cultures to make sense of it all but a human heart is still a human heart. We have accepted the borders placed upon us that create countries, nationalities and differences but with human ingenuity a white man’s heart can be made to beat within a black man.

As humans we depend on one another for all sorts of services and we have an elaborate way of conducting them and negotiating advantage has become the prime motivator. Creating profit is king and separateness allows this to system to function, winners and losers are just more labels.

When it comes to saving our planet, using a system based on seeking advantage through ‘negotiation’ for our mutual survival  is bound to fail. It might be possible for rich countries to continue pooing in the hotub for a little longer at the expense of the developing world but at this rate we’re set to join the Dodo. Its pretty clear that the only process bound to succeed is one where a safe level of global emissions is set and we all get a carbon allowance.

In times of peril our perceptions of differences diminish and in the past we have come together to pitch for a common cause.  Its at moments like this that we should see beyond the borders of label and country and touch our commonality, the hopes for our children and grandchildren and the future of our world. In Copenhagen we need leadership not prevarication; cooperation not negotiation.