COP21 comes to a close as the wind howls and Jaspar’s rugby game is cancelled because so much water fell on the pitch last night. Climate change is great, but it’s not good. I love the warmer weather so here in Ireland it’s almost as warm as Hong Kong in the winter; you can go jogging and enjoy the breeze. But the volatility of weather is a symptom of broken systems. Both civilisation and nature.
The consequences for the breakdown of nature and civilisation will be different. Nature will change – once nature was a burning ball in space, now it’s a paradise become decadent and failing. Civilisation will simply disappear – and might never come back.
For some the idea that the human systems are dysfunctional and the weight of humanity is crushing nature is familiar. For many of them, it is a new realisation and the response reflects where they come from: community driven people tend to activism, strategic operators tend to business solutions, organisers tend to regulation, and so on. For a few the notion of integral solutions is a dawning awareness.
All of these people are connected by social organisation and media. We all communicate with each other and ideas circulate quickly as nuggets of information on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, websites, journals, TV shows, … We tend to communicate with like minded people. It is not easy to cross over. But the filtering of from one group to another happens because in each of our circle of family and friends there are always a few “strange ones” who bring unfamiliar concepts to the conversation. (I might fit that description for many of my family and peers!)
Social media allows this cross-fertilisation of ideas and it reveals the homogeneity of your group of friends. Who shares ideas about politics, art, religion, business, .. and so on?
While there has been a great deal of activity related to COP21, it has been predominantly among the same people: People who want to see system change, or people who have a vested interest in things staying as they are.
The outcome of COP21 is not going to be remarkable. Sadly, the depth and breadth of understanding among leaders, and followers, is shallow and narrow. For example, even I was a little stunned, on the way back from picking Richard up from the airport, to calculate that we had released a quarter of his body weight of 60 odd kilos in CO2.
A litre of fuel releases between 0.6 and 0.7 kg of carbon, which grabs another two molecules of oxygen to make carbon di-oxide, bringing the weight to around 1.8 kg. So for a 150 km round trip at 45 mpg (15.8 km/litre) we needed 150/15.8 or 9.5 litres which create 17 kilos of CO2. Just that one event produced nearly the same weight of CO2 as you find in a bag of cement. It’s heavy! And it’s just one event on one day.
So even people like me can be stunned by the challenges we face.
The problem nature faces has much to do with energy and our gratuitous use of fossil fuels. The reality is that humanity must live within the laws of nature, including not consuming more energy in a year than that captured by photosynthesis in a year.
Civilisation is breaking down because the systems we have in place are unethical. Every crisis comes about because of moral failure. Corruption insinuates business, politics and religion. There are cries for change and some who show the way, but the establishment finds it hard to give up power. If evolution is not chosen, revolution erupts.
So while you are part of the establishment, spare a moment for the alternative view that is shared by the fringes of your social circle. It’s not about equality it’s about equity. Be open to finding a way for systems to evolve. The system is a result of everybody’s choices. We must all choose better. We must aim to do the right thing the right way.