Sucks, The Earth
And The Soul
By Dr. Glen Barry
02 December, 2007
The rich are richer and the poor,
poorer -- even as the Earth they share shrivels and dies. Billions live
a life of misery on a dollar or two a day, as a sizeable minority enjoys
creature comforts fit for kings of old, and a relative few with more
wealth then entire nations live in unimagined splendor.
The Earth is alive and 3.5
billion years old. Humanity is one of her newer and apparently short-lived
members. In losing our oneness with the Earth, we have embraced the
dismantling of her life-support system as a means to feed, house and
clothe ourselves. We live as if climate, forests, oceans and water have
no value other than as resources to be destroyed for money.
First colonial Europe, then
militant America and now China and India Inc. together constitute a
spreading economic cancer upon the Earth's natural habitats. Each adheres
to ever growing populations and economies destroying ecological systems
for, at this point, a few decades of throw away consumption, based upon
various national "isms" that are all ecologically lacking.
Humanity is well along the
path of cutting and burning ourselves to oblivion. The combined filth
from centuries of burning fossil fuels and clearing native vegetation
-- primitive practices that continue to this day -- is causing the climate
and global ecology to not only change, but collapse.
Widespread poverty makes
environmental protection nearly impossible, stymies souls and is deeply
unethical. As well-off policy-makers ignore global inequities and suffering
while seeking vainly to maintain consuming and polluting as a way of
life for the rich, we ensure soon everyone will be poor, and then humanity,
and perhaps the Earth, dead (or essentially so).
It is grotesque that global
cooperative efforts to address climate change have been delayed because
of the rich West's failure to understand history and ecology, and unwillingness
to accept the principle of equity. And the not yet over-developed world's
inability, particularly the elites, to note and reject failed development
schemes for short term material gains.
It is time to get past ecological
denial, fear and anger; and move forward with radical cooperative ecological
change based upon ecological truth and social need. Creation is at stake.
There is perhaps Bali and
a few years to get policy right to reduce emissions and avoid total
global ecological decline through cooperative international policy-making.
Past that, only painful revolutionary responses could possibly slay
the growth machine and maintain an intact and fully operable biosphere.
Barring these, the global ecosystem fails.
It is appalling that nations
like the United States cannot understand the equity and justice implications
of climate change. How can they sleep after a decade of obstruction
equating a starving villager polluting a bit more a bit longer to emerge
from poverty, with their right to drive SUVs and grow their economy
The United States and Europe
practice the most evil systems of ecological destruction the world has
ever seen, and they must pay with immediate deep emission cuts far into
Yet their destructive way
of life has become the desired global norm and "developing"
nations are rapidly catching up. China and India's exploding populations
import emissions while exporting goods. And tropical forested countries
such as Brazil and Indonesia have failed miserably to keep their rainforests
intact and carbon in place. Increasingly climate blame is shared.
Please consider these modest
suggestions my contribution to the Bali climate conference. Climate
change is so advanced that all nations must agree to mandatorily reduce
their greenhouse gas emissions as the most urgent task ever undertaken
Equity and justice dictates
rich nations will contribute more in total and speed to emissions cuts,
yet poor and developing nations suffer the most from global heating,
and must not expect to follow the same failed and deadly development
policies. Poverty associated with reduced emissions is preferable to
that from failing ecosystems to which there is no adapting.
Clearly a global deal must
apportion emission reduction responsibilities -- perhaps 50% to traditional
rich developed countries, 30% to the newly industrial super-economies
and 20% to others. Far greater minds have proposed similar things in
economic terms, Google information on "contraction and convergence".
Further, to commit to 80%
cuts in emissions by 2050 without more immediate goals is meaningless.
Targets under Kyoto's successor must be ambitious and pulled forward.
Given our understanding that climate change has become abrupt and potentially
run-way, we need commitments starting within a year for 30% cuts by
2015. And then the strategy, funding and adaptive management to do so.
The only way forward in Bali
is to embrace sizable emission cuts that include all nations, even as
rich nations are called upon to do more, and all pledges are front loaded.
This is the only type of framework within which a deal could possibly
be reached that will be effective in stopping climate change.
Poverty, inequity, injustice
and climate change are deeply related. There is little possibility of
saving the Earth through emission reductions, and otherwise working
to achieve global ecological sustainability, unless we also work for
a just and equitable world free from poverty.
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