Copenhagen Accord or Copenhagen Discord?

By PAT WATSON

If “the meek shall inherit the Earth”, as is stated in the Beatitudes, then we might speculate that it is the compassionate that will allow such an inheritance to fall into the hands of the meek. For, given the conclusion of the meeting of world leaders in Copenhagen last week if the compassionate do not come forward now in force, human life – and who knows what other life forms – is going down a dreadful path.

Apparently, the two-week United Nations meeting, which also had a fair number of protesters and non-government organizations present, did not result in an agreement that even matched the one made in Kyoto in 1997. Industrialized nations have arguably gone backwards in time relative to the commitments that were made in Kyoto to limit carbon emissions to the level reached in 1990.

United Nations officials issued a strangely worded statement at the end of the summit emphasizing that the Copenhagen Accord “recognizes the scientific view that an increase in global temperature of 2 degrees is required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.”

UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon described the accord as something that is not “everything that everyone hoped for, but an essential beginning.”

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Climate Change, was somewhat more direct. In a UN press release he stated, “…ambitions to reduce emissions must be raised significantly if we are to hold the world to 2 degrees.”

But scientists say the pledges by developed and developing countries are “insufficient” for preventing the world temperature from rising two degrees.

The current temperature increase is what is causing the polar ice caps to melt, leading to fears that many island nations and coastal regions will be submerged by the increased ocean waters.

Meanwhile, the old maxim that what is good for business is bad for people and vice versa is holding true about this vexing situation. Taking a look at the business pages of newspapers will give the average person a sense of why the powers that be are so resistant to making immediate and radical change.

That is why we need the compassionate to step up. They are the ones who have the emotional perspective to fully grasp that we have to begin taking care of those who are far from us, as well as those who are near. For the fact is the waters are already rising. In the best-case scenario, the adequate survival of human beings will have to come from the leadership of those who are driven by unshakable empathy and compassion.

The human capacity for empathy relates more readily to those with whom we have the nearest relations. The average person living in Toronto, for example, will care more (if at all) about those who are homeless on the streets here than he or she would about children suffering through the war in Afghanistan. So it is that because we are not yet feeling the direct effects of climate change, we can, for the most part, take a benign approach to the unconcealed disregard that leaders have shown for the wellbeing of the world in total.

What if elected leaders and big business do not ever adequately address this frightening disregard for the laws and limits of nature?

The overwhelming concern for continuing to have assured profit at all cost is what has led to what many are calling a failed summit. Leaders have gone back to their countries with a non-binding decree to limit the activities that are contributing to environmental damage and an unspoken understanding that they will try to get away with business as usual.

The real problem we are grappling with is the depths of the denial all around us regarding climate change. For it is not just greed for profit but denial that has resulted in this weak accord. Should we consider this their Christmas gift to the world? If it is, then we ought to firmly refuse to accept it.

On a note of hypocrisy…

Golf superstar and billionaire Tiger Woods has gone from sports hero to being made a pariah for his less than heroic behaviour as a married man with a family. That’s Woods’ problem to solve. For the general observer though, our problem is the duplicity that has been passing for righteous judgment of Woods’ once private live.

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