Monday, June 20, 2011

When bad news are the good news

It is horrifying to read about the natural disasters that torment country after country. But maybe disasters like these is the only thing that can make our politicians wake up?

Storm clouds

Fears loom that the international community will fail against to find a binding agreement on co2 emissions, and that the compromises made in Copenhagen and Cancun were made in vain. I think this is

  • very likely

  • sad

  • but less relevant

  • It is sad that our leadership fails us when we need it the most, but it could hardly be a surprise for anyone. Climate politics is but one example of the obvious fact - elected politicians do not rule - they are ruled by special interests like the car-, oil- and coal industries. The function politicians are playing in the modern democratic society is to mitigate between different interests, to execute their policies, and to shield these interests from public anger. The perfect example is Greece, where the government carries out a policy dictated from the IMF, and willingly face the anger of it's population, rather than letting signore EU/IMF take the hit.

    In fact, all data was on the table in Copenhagen, and if there was ever a chance for a political solution to the climate problem, it was then. Obama knows as well as I do that the climate is changing, but as a corporate America servant his job is to keep the issue out of the public debate until capitalists have moved their assets from dieing industries like cars and coal into perceived green industries as solar, nuclear and wind energy.

    The result of the Copenhagen meeting in itself indicates that we have nothing to hope from politics as they look today. Quite frankly, nothing that can come out of the next meeting in Durban, SA, will be worth the paper it is written on, so if the diplomatic process breaks down it is just as good. Maybe better.

    We have to look for the good news somewhere else. And right now the worst news are the best one's.

    For things to change, the realities on the ground must change. And they are changing. Even though media is still oddly nervous about discussing the relation between climate change and extreme weather events the connection is as well documented as it gets. It is almost a truism - climate change means changing weather. The statistics are horrifying: staggering 42 million people are displaced due to climatic changes. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that extreme weather events have grown more frequent in the United States since 1980. Part of that shift is due to climate change, said Tom Karl, director of the agency's National Climatic Data Center. I wonder what the other part of that shift is due to...

    Last year, like the years before it witnessed unprecedented weather events. Pakistan flooded, and the drought in Russia made food prices peak (again). This year's weather looks even grimmer. Tornadoes, wildfires and floods in the US. Floods and drought in China. Water scarcity in Pakistan. Do I sound like an alarmist? Well, if one manages to connect the dots, as Bill McKibben writes in an article far better than this post, there is real reason to alarm.

    Politicians on a local level, presumably since big business doesn’t bother to buy them have already started to deal with the new reality. Chicago is planning for climate change. So is other cities worldwide.

    Obama and other world leaders can not ignore this reality for ever. But the question is not only when they are prepared to act, but if they are prepared to let go of their servitude to big business, and let communities on the local level govern themselves democratically. States can't afford to lose business. Local communities can't afford losing one day of adaption for climate change. Which is why it makes sense to decentralize the important decisions to the local level.

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