9 12 2009

I choose HOPE.  Why? Despair means that you have given up the fight, or haven’t even bothered to enter the ring.  If we choose despair, aren’t we as useless as our leaders promoting the exploitation of people, finances, and the earth’s resources?  There is no solution to the problem of climate change, and the challenges that we are going to face as the earth’s population increases, and time moves on.  Resources are being exploited at a rate much faster than the earth can resupply them, and this has been going on for many years.  When I think about despair, I think about war, death and destruction.  People who lived through World War II and the nuclear weapon crisis probably felt that the world was coming to an end, watching in horror as millions upon millions of people killed each other . . . and here we are sixty years later.  Social conflict is still as big of an issue as it was 3000 years ago; people continually fight over resources and land claims.  We do not want to give up what is rightfully ours; we do not want to give up our free will.

 I choose hope, because hope means mini steps.  Hope means a light at the end of the tunnel, something feasible to walk towards.  Perhaps the “Natural Step” best describes this notion.  The Natural Steps’ four main components: basic science, a resource funnel, system conditions, and implementation strategies each offer a clinical solution when it comes to the question: what do we do now? 

First, we need to take an inventory of the earth: what resources do we need to protect, what do we have in short supply or plentiful supply, and how do we use these resources in a way that ensures they are not wasted from the cycle.  Secondly, the people!  We are responsible for this mess, our consumption habits and irresponsibility in planning and design has created a bankruptcy of resources on the planet.  The value placed on goods and technologies needs to shift to a greater value placed on people and community development.  Small steps might include establishing community discussion committees, and advisory committees for everything from bicycle transportation to local farming practices, art, and music.  Perhaps small-scale trading of goods (food, household items, clothing, etc) may be a successful way to recycle items that we do not want, yet are not ready for the land fill.   I believe that when we take more responsibility for the way things are run, we feel a greater sense of pride for the place in which we live, and a greater respect for those who share the same location.

 The third and forth steps in the Natural Step go hand in hand.  OK we messed up.  How do we learn from our mistakes and design a plan for future development which is unique to our community’s resources, culture, landscape, and given economic condition?  I think it is important that we decide what needs to become a law in order to protect the security of the planet—we can’t take away free will, but isn’t exploitation of resources murder to the planet?  Social and moral obligation to the planet, implemented over time through education, a sense of connectedness to nature, and the development of new habits will most likely have a greater impact in the long run than will new legislation.  If we learn how to revert back to a lifestyle less dependent on twitter, blackberries, personal entertainment systems, etc.  I am certain that human will remember how good it feels to spend time with people.  Laughter, a feeling of safety, being loved—these are feeling that no consumer good can ever instill in us.  So small steps . . . put people together who want to work towards a positive goal.  Next step? Spread this light beyond municipal borders.  I believe that international collaboration is just as crucial in order to implement international carbon standards, and standardizing price to reflect social costs.  Implementing renewable energy technologies, reducing consumerism, improving adaptation to climate change, improving social systems . . .are also major factors on the national and international list, But for the sake of HOPE, perhaps it is more advisable that focus on the things that are part of our daily lives.

It is Day 1 of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.  I do not have hope for our leaders at this point in time; it appear to be a lot of talk in a room full of many stubborn individuals.  I don’t buy Hedegaard’s message for a minute, but this isn’t because I am in despair, it is because I have a greater hope for people and communities facilitating positive change before the head honchos ever do:

“There are moments in history where the world can choose to go down different paths. The COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen is one of those defining moments: We can choose to go down the road towards green prosperity and a more sustainable future. Or we can choose a pathway to stalemate and do nothing about climate change leaving an enormous bill for our kids and grand-kids to pay. It really isn’t that hard a choice” – Connie Hedegaard, Minister for the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen 2009


Copenhagen 2009: http://en.cop15.dk/blogs/climate+thinkers+blog 


Chris Ling (2009). PowerPoint Presentation.  What Need to Change.  Royal Roads University, Victoria, ENSC 301


Turner, C. (2007). The Geography of Hope. pp. 305-351. Toronto, ON: Vintage Canada.


Aoife O’Grady, I. (2008). Fighting Climate Change: Human solidarity in a divided world.  A young people’s summary of the United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008. Retrieved in December 2009 from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/Two_Degrees_En.pdf





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