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Monday, December 28, 2009

No Christmas at Copenhagen

One Christmas Eve not that many years ago, my darling wife and I sat upon the sands of the Sahara fearing it might be our last. Our only means of transport lay buried in soft sand to its doors, while under constellations and planets lighting the infinite darkness we sipped our last water. Searching for a solution, a comet streaked across the heavens, and thinking it might be Santa Claus bringing good will to all mankind, I bowed my head and prayed we'd be set free so we might continue and not perish.

Promising I’d be good reminded me of another Christmas many years before that, when I had promised to be very good if only Santa would bring me a new bike. And when the big morning came, when surrounded by torn packaging, new socks, shirts and piles of toys, I had stomped my feet and yelled at dad, “I wanted a new bike!” Then ran, tears flowing, out the house.

I had been good, as good as I could, and should have been rewarded. Furious, I raced to the garage to hide, passing last year’s bike, before bumping into a brand new one festooned with a big blue ribbon.

Today, the world is too much like that confused, spoiled little boy. Wishing for things. Letting greed confuse what's right. When we should be more like that young couple who struggled to survive in the real Earth. When the hot sun rose, they still found themselves surrounded by eternity and bogged to the axles, but found salvation by hard work, determination, and sacrifice.

Copenhagen clearly illustrated the failings of the 'me and mine' syndrome where each country thinks only of its needs. Did you know, the USA represents about 1/20 of the global population, but it consumes about 1/4 of the world's energy, and generates 5 times the world average of CO2 emissions.

In contrast to the almost 20 tons of CO2 each person in the US produces per year, Europeans produce 8 tons, and the developing countries only 2 tons. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose about 15% from 1990 to 2006.

I have come to believe, as many of you have, that we live in a global community. After all the planet's air and emissions can typically move halfway around the world in a week. So, America's large footprint places it front and centre in relation to the world's changing climate. And yet emissions targets at Copenhagen were derailed yet again by man’s eloquence. Isn’t this a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns? Seems a pity so many of Earth’s creatures must perish simply because we won’t, or cannot, control ourselves.

Ours is a very complex situation, I haven't the answer, and simple short term answers are hard to find. Continued dialogue at all levels is important, and Jude and I believe the young must become more connected with Earth. And it definitely seems the right time to start thinking outside the box. At other management systems.

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