Friday, December 18, 2009

What is at stake in Copenhagen

A who-shall-die-last game? Or the ascent of a new kind of world leadership?

"Let us give good science, good systemic projects and good systemic leaders a chance to save our humanity by saving our planet."

Sergio U. Dani, from Göttingen, Germany, December 18, 2009

For those wondering why official politicians and negotiators are unable to set an agreement at Copenhagen, I offer a guess. Official politicians and negotiators are common sense thinkers backed by mainstream economy, industrial and financial institutions in their respective countries. They are created in a competitive system where money endows power, makes one strong to defeat weaker competitors. Since enough political money – and therefore enough political strength – is in possession of the rich, what most people aren’t, then conducting politics and negotiation has become an exclusive right of a fistful of rich and nouveau rich people.

A fistful of privileged rich people and institutions are intrinsically programmed to win competitions, not to lose them. They deal with global warming as if it was a competition as any other one. Their task, their default is to win this competition and keep growing. The reason why they are up to mischief is certainly this. There is no such thing as a growth competition when it comes to global warming and critically degrading resources. Global warming and environmental degradation have to be dealt with in their own rights. After all, global warming affects all of us, the rich and the poor, the intelligent and the fool, the beautiful and the ugly, the young and the elderly, the winners and the losers. Science of the environment has taught us that systemic changes do not abide by political rules or geographic frontiers.

This is the reason why these official people are fundamentally not entitled to deal with the problem. They are part of the problem, not the solution. They simply do not have the ability to find efficient solutions on such serious matters. Please note that I am not telling that governments are not entitled to decide and take action on such serious environmental matters. I am telling that present government people – of the kind of most of those we know, anyway – are incompetent to deal with systemic matters, simply because they have been reared in a competitive system.

Hear, for instance, what Dilma Rousseff, a high-rank member of the Brazilian government has uttered in Copenhagen: “It is beyond doubt that environment poses a hurdle to sustainable development. This is to say that environment threatens the future of our planet and our countries”. Rousseff champions a controversial growth acceleration program in Brazil, causing dramatic governmental-led environmental degradation in Brazil. Her violent style forced the resignation of Brazilian environment minister and world-renowned ecological leader Marina Silva last year. If Rousseff's and Lula's model of accelerated growth were to be adopted worldwide, we would certainly have an accelerated death. And yet, this fistful of ill-prepared Brazilian governmental authorities - including President Lula himself - believe they can teach the world ecological lessons.

Evaluate the solution offered by the American government to fight global warming, as uttered by Hillary Clinton in Copenhagen: “The US is prepared to work with other countries towards a goal of jointly mobilising $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries.” In other words, she believes US responsibility in fighting global change is as simple as telling developing countries to “go shopping”. She voiced no word about how the US are going to reduce its atmospheric emissions of global warming gases.

Watch the behavior of Canada’s government in Copenhagen, as reported by George Monbiot: “The Canadian government … is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee's tea party. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works,” explains Monbiot. “In Copenhagen (this) week, this country (is doing) everything in its power to wreck the talks. The rest of the world must do everything in its power to stop it. Canada now threatens the wellbeing of the world.”

A fruitful international agreement on governmental actions against global warming depends on grassroots work aimed at replacing unable governmental people with better prepared people. This is a gigantic effort and a challenge for the 21st century, as it encompasses fundamental changes in societal knowledge and societal values, including a profound restructuring of our democratic institutions.

We have to find democratic ways of replacing common sense leaders with systemic leaders. Systemic leaders will foster and spread good systemic ideas instead of lobbying for bad sectorial ideas; socio-environmentally responsible programes instead of bad growth acceleration programes; low-consume economies instead of high-consume economies; peace industries instead of war industries; real nature’s capital valuation instead of surreal speculative capital valuation; sustainability of the human, instead of the sustainable development mith. Let us give good science, good systemic projects and good systemic leaders a chance to save our humanity by saving our planet.

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