Doha Dreaming

Doha Dreaming

“There is surely a correspondence between an exhausted culture and a populace devolved so far into mental dullness that it can’t recognize its predicament. We don’t seem to get how much the industrial production spree of the past 200 years has just plumb worn us out, not to mention the ecosystem we were designed to dwell in” writes James Howard Kunstler under the title “Modernity Bites” this November 26, 2012.

James’ thesis is that we are at the end of the industrial era and that the economic structures it has spawned are imploding around us.

What if we just accept the reality that the industrial spree was a self-limiting adventure and now we have to move on?

He goes on to ask, “What if we just accept the reality that the industrial spree was a self-limiting adventure and now we have to move on? What do we give up? What do we actually do with our time and effort?” These are good questions to ponder for anyone paying attention to the ‘sustainability’ debate.

If we accept that the current state of flux in the global economy, underscored by the inevitability of climate change, will become more turbulent and unpredictable before it eventually settles down, then we must also ask ourselves what sort of future we will have. Change is inevitable, whether we collectively act decisively or not. What changes would we, could we, hope for if we are to have a vision for a better future? JHK sees our future in the past with a return to a rural agronomist lifestyle free from suburbs, motoring and big-box retailers. He sees evidence of this in his own provincial community, which like so many, is in decline.

“In the meantime … you can be sure that the people running things will campaign strenuously to keep the current set of rackets running. The results will be sad and possibly terrifying. Be brave and seek opportunity in these epochal changes. Modernity has nearly put us out of business. Leave the exhausted enterprise behind and be human for [a] while. Enjoy the time-out from techno-progress that is at hand. It will be something to be grateful for.”

Leave the exhausted enterprise behind and be human for [a] while. Enjoy the time-out from techno-progress that is at hand. It will be something to be grateful for…

My previous post on community renewable power schemes here in Australia suggests that some of our regional communities are already well on the front foot towards a ‘new economy’.

So what are ‘the people running things’ currently up to at Doha (COP 18)?  Kumi Naidoo the Executive Director of Greenpeace International speculates in an Aljazeera OpEd:

“2012 is the year the climate changed. I’m not talking about extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy, the Arctic sea ice melt or flooding in Venice. I’m talking about the climate in the corridors of power at the CIA and the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and some of the biggest consultancies in business, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Alarms are finally ringing in the offices of the bureaucrats and ‘conservative’ businessmen.”

“Despite this, the United Nations climate talks in Doha (COP 18) threaten to be another round of brinkmanship between the so-called global north and south, developed and developing nations, with each waiting for the other to blink – and no one taking leadership.”

  • CIA: climate change could lead to “geopolitical destabilisation”.
  • The World Bank: a world where temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius “must be avoided”
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers: even if we double our efforts to address climate change the world will still be on course for a 6 degree rise in average temperature by the turn of the century.

The World Bank needs to stop financing coal power plants that make their clients’ problems worse and turn their attention to investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency

Naidoo says, “Of course, these institutions have only taken the first step – we need them to take action not just issue statements. The CIA needs to tell Congress that the key to US security isn’t getting off foreign oil. It’s getting off all oil, as soon as possible. The IEA needs to tell the world that the discussion shouldn’t be about whether we can afford to build a thousand new coal plants. It should be about how quickly we can turn off the ones we already have.”

We need them to take action not just issue statements…

“Faced with these threats to homes, communities, economies and indeed lives, governments in Doha will be put to the test as to whether they are willing and able to take action to protect their people. Will finance be made available to help developing countries transform their economies to clean energy and to adapt to the climate change impacts that are already unavoidable? Will a framework be established that provides finance for forest protection, sets targets for halting forest destruction and includes safeguards for biodiversity and the rights of indigenous peoples?”

“Doha is already infamous for dead-end trade talks. One more failure and it will be forever known as the place where global deals go to die. Instead, what we need to see is a signal, a sign of life, that all governments really understand what is at stake. We need to see government put people and the planet before the polluters and their profits. We need to see a sign that they are prepared to act accordingly.”

I’m not holding my breath for Doha!


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