WTF is happening in Warsaw?

Presenting a short dialogue between two characters I know quite well, ME and I.

ME  represents me when I really think about climate change and what it means

sadface

represents me when I want to convince myself that it will be okay, or when I don’t want to think about it because it is too upsetting, or because thinking about it should naturally lead to doing something about it, and how hard is that? I mean, I have a life to live and blogs to write and a family to care for and places to go and things to do, and Christmas presents to buy. I’m too busy to pay attention to this.

happy-face-with-laptop

ME:  Climate change is real. There is almost universal agreement about this now. Climate change has the possibility of drastically changing our environment and our way of life.

I: Don’t worry, things will be okay. After all, the 20th UN Climate Change Conference is being held in Warsaw right now. That’s a relief, right?

 ME: Depends on how optimistic you are. Things are deteriorating rapidly. Yesterday delegates from 132 poor and developing countries walked out of the talks.

I: Yea, but those things happen. It’s how they negotiate. No worries. They managed to come up with the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and that had a legally binding plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 6% to 8% below what they had been in 1990 during 2008 -2012.

ME: Wow, I’m surprised you knew that.

I: Everyone has heard of the Kyoto Protocol.

ME: Did you know that Congress wouldn’t ratify the treaty after Clinton signed it, and Bush completely rejected it in 2001?

I: No, I didn’t know that, but I’m sure Bush had a good reason. Anyway, that was in the past. Now, good things are going to happen in Warsaw. Hey, do you want to have a snack?

ME: I think it might be a case of too little, too late. If they manage to get an agreement, it won’t actually be signed until they meet again in Paris in 2015, and it won’t go into effect until 2020.

I: WTF? 2020? That’s more than 6 years from now. Seems like a long time if things are really at a tipping point for carbon in the atmosphere. Those experts must know that the situation isn’t really that serious. Thank goodness. Let’s try that new pastry shop.

ME: Don’t be so sure. It is more about diplomacy and politics and funding than how serious the need is.

I: Well, some good will happen. Since the Cophenhagen talks in 2009, developed countries have invested more than $10 billion per year towards international climate actions.

ME: Yes, that is true and they agreed to get it up to $100 billion a year by 2020, but no one really thinks they will.

I: Well, no wonder! $100 billion a year is an awful lot.

Me:You should see how much we spend on fossil fuel subsidies.

I: I’m getting bored with this. Can’t we talk about something else?  Anyway, that pastry shop closes soon. We’ll have to drive to get there before it closes.

ME: sigh…..

The End

I find myself having these inner dialogues more often than I like to admit. I feel the sense of urgency and I know in my heart, in my soul and in my mind, that we must all contribute to solving this problem now. We really don’t have time to wait. We must cut our worldwide carbon emissions. Yet, rich countries spend 5 times more on fossil fuel subsidies than on aid to developing nations to cut their emissions. In other words, we are spending more on ADDING carbon emissions to the environment.

fossil-fuels-skeleton-hand1

My head actually hurts when I think of how complex the problem is. I know it is not simple. But, I also know we must not become paralyzed by the complexity. I saw Wendell Berry (poet, farmer, environmental activist) being interviewed by Bill Moyers and he spoke of our need to take care of the earth in simple terms.

HandsEarth

He framed the question in terms of our relationship to the earth and our separation from nature; about how we don’t really know and love the very land we live on, the little plot of earth that is underneath our homes and the land that surrounds it. No matter where you live, the building is grounded on a piece of land. The water that comes into your home started flowing from an actual source in the earth. Berry says we can’t really take care of it until we are connected to it.

rocky_jungle_stream_portrait_ground_by_compasslogicstock-d6fmg77

In his words:

“Because we have not made our lives to fit our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded, the streams polluted, the mountains, overturned. Hope then to belong to your place by your own knowledge of what it is that no other place is, and by caring for it as you care for no other place…Be still and listen to the voices that belong to the stream banks and the trees and the open fields… Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet. Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground underfoot… The world is no better than its places. Its places at last are no better than their people while their people continue on them. When the people make dark the light within them, the world darkens.”

Berry’s sense of the earth’s places is interesting to me. He expresses how we have harmed them, but he also urges us to care for them and to find hope in the ground underneath our feet. So what does that actually mean to us, as individuals living in vastly different places all over this earth? I think he answers that. He does not want us make dark the light within us. Caring for the earth, then, is intimately connected to keeping the light of hope shining inside us.

light of love girl

Do I think that this is the whole answer to healing the earth? No. But I think he gives us a pretty concrete suggestion when he says:

“The only question we have the right to ask is what’s the right thing to do? What does the earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it.”

For me, framing the question in terms of what the earth needs us to do in order to allow us to live on it is a helpful way to think about it. The planet earth will be here, with us or without us. If we want to continue to survive here, what does the earth need from us?

That is the question we must ask, and we must dedicate ourselves to finding the answers.

On the first season of  West Wing in 1999, President Bartlet asked a question that is never answered:

“What will be the next thing that challenges us?  That makes us go farther and work harder? You know that when smallpox was eradicated, it was considered the single greatest humanitarian achievement of the century? Surely we can do it again, as we did in a time when our eyes looked towards the heavens, and with outstretched fingers, we touched the face of God.”

The answer to that question is clear now. We must heal the earth before it is too late.

parched earth and lake

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/19/un-climate-talks-warsaw-poland

http://nationalpriorities.org/cost-of/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/18/iraq-war-costs_n_2885071.html

http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-03/fossil-fuel-subsidies-of-rich-nations-are-five-times-climate-aid.html

http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-wendell-berry-poet-prophet/

http://www.tv.com/shows/the-west-wing/the-crackpots-and-these-women-792/trivia/

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About What a Heart Can Hold

I'm Jan Krause Greene - writer, peace activist and lover of the earth. I formed my opinions about life at an early age and they haven't really changed much since then - I believe war does not create lasting solutions, love will be the real revolution, and the human heart can expand until it holds love for the whole world. I have been a teacher, a newspaper columnist, a bank teller, a house cleaner, an executive director of a non-profit dedicated to education advocacy, a diversity trainer, AIDS activist, a group facilitator, and a waitress. Whatever it took to raise 5 kids and remain true to my values. I can't carry a tune, but I love to sing and don't know any steps, but I love to dance!
This entry was posted in climate change, earth, environment, environmental impact of war, Interconnectedness, water crisis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to WTF is happening in Warsaw?

  1. Gina says:

    Very creative and powerful piece, Jan! Thank you.

  2. davidprosser says:

    I sympathise with Me. If we don’t look after the Earth we can’t be surprised if the Earth doesn’t look after us, but we can be dead.
    xxx Cwtch xxx

  3. Excellent Jan. I will reblog this tomorrow.

    The question, “If we want to continue to survive here, what does the earth need from us?”, deeply convicts me. My friend Tomas just wrote an article (on his blog Heartflow 2013) about “Earthing”.

    Earthing is going outside somewhere and just touching your feet to earth. Feeling it’s rhythm. Being connected to earths energy.

    Humans must come to an understanding that we need this small blue dot in space to continue on our race. We must connect personally to this planet we call home.

    I think your “I and Me” conversation is not even typical. For the most part 1st, 2nd and 3rd world citizens rarely think about the fact that we are destroying our only home never mind the future of our entire race.

    Thank you again for another excellent exposition and capturing post about climate change.

    Xxoo my soul sister.

    Sheri

  4. Reblogged this on The Other Side of Ugly and commented:
    The question, “If we want to continue to survive here, what does the earth need from us?”, deeply convicts me. My friend Tomas just wrote an article (on his blog Heartflow 2013) about “Earthing”.

    Earthing is going outside somewhere and just touching your feet to earth. Feeling it’s rhythm. Being connected to earths energy.

    Humans must come to an understanding that we need this small blue dot in space to continue on our race. We must connect personally to this planet we call home.

    In Jan’s article, the “I and Me” conversation is not even typical. For the most part 1st, 2nd and 3rd world citizens rarely think about the fact that we are destroying our only home, never mind the future of our ENTIRE race.

    Thank you again Jan, for another excellent exposition and for this exquisitely capturing post about climate change.

    Xxoo my soul sister.

    Sheri

  5. 1EarthUnited says:

    Reblogged this on 1EarthUnited and commented:
    Hi Jan, thanks for sharing your timely concerns regarding the state of our planet. It is unconscionable that politicians play lip service to their constituents while being bought out by big oil. At some point we’ll reach critical mass and it’ll be too late to act… as we Terraform ourselves to death. Climate changes will force us to change the way we live. I remember the images of Beijing, China in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. People were walking
    around in masks the air was so thick with factory pollution, there was talk of cancelling the games! Their gov’t was forced (reluctantly) to shut down the local factories for several months. We have to ween ourselves from coal, fossil fuels, since we already have
    alternative energy sources. We all need to petition and force our respective gov’t to act.
    Firstly, make it a CRIME to accept corporate bribes (donations, campaign contributions, perks & kickbacks). Then jump start the economy by replacing old industrial infrastructure, slowly trickling down to the consumer level. Natural gas would be a reasonable transitional fuel, but we definitely need to adopt clean renewable resources.
    We have the technology and manpower to do this, but we also need the willingness to change for the good of all.
    Just my thoughts on the matter, I’m sure there are more creative solutions, but we really need to start for real. Thanks for introducing this subject from the heart♥

  6. ~meredith says:

    What an excellent, thought-provoking post! Wow… good on you for being real. We are so conditioned to believe we aren’t the solution (as individuals), it’s very easy to blow off the thought that every choice we make counts. Like writing this post! Thank you!!

    • Thank you, Meredith. I think you are so right. We don’t really get it – that the world is as it is because of an accumulation of individual choices by people, and the only way we can really change things is through our individual actions. I think we need a massive change of consciousness. I hope my book and blog are a tiny part of creating that change.
      Peace!
      Jan

  7. Interesting the way you have presented two sided of the argument. The Believer within you versus the Doubter within you. Who do you think will win the day? Of course the one you feed. Do you realise that? So, tell me , which one are you feeding at this point in time?

    I have heard of the philosophy that Good and Evil are but two sides of the same coin. So if Good holds sway, Evil is bound to arise. Would you subscribe to this philosophy in the context of Climate Change?

    Shakti

  8. Hi Shakti,
    Thanks for the comment.
    In my case, the Believer has already won the day. The Believer is the one I feed, through reading, and writing. My book was inspired by the believer..
    I think that climate change is so complicated because even people who care get paralyzed because they don’t know what to do, so they just stop thinking about it.
    I think that every time we find an action of some sort – something we can do to help – it empowers us to do more.
    You might be interested in these earlier posts – some are reblogs
    What Happens Next?
    Good News on tiny wings
    Playing Hardball with the fossil fuel industry
    What if the World Stopped Spinning?
    Okay then, I’ll do it myself if I have to

    But I am always looking for more ways to reach people and also to make changes in the way I live that will help the environment. What advice do you have.

    Looking forward to a dialogue!
    Peace,
    Jan

  9. Lada Ray says:

    Came here from 1EarthUnited reblog of your post. Excellent piece about the need to honor and reconnect with our beautiful planet!
    Thank you.
    Lada Ray

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