Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Monbiot, 2012 - The Year of the Great Polishing

To The Guardian's enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, 2012 was the year we did our best to abandon the natural world.

In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century.

...Their indifference was distilled into a great collective shrug at the Earth Summit in June. The first summit, 20 years before, was supposed to have heralded a new age of environmental responsibility. During that time, thanks largely to the empowerment of corporations and the ultra-rich, the square root of nothing has been achieved. Far from mobilising to address this, in 2012 the leaders of some of the world's most powerful governments – the US, the UK, Germany and Russia – didn't even bother to turn up.

But they did send their representatives to sabotage it. The Obama administration even sought to reverse commitments made by George Bush Sr in 1992. The final declaration was a parody of inaction. While the 190 countries that signed it expressed "deep concern" about the world's escalating crises, they agreed no new targets, dates or commitments, with one exception. Sixteen times they committed themselves to "sustained growth", a term they used interchangeably with its polar opposite, "sustainability".

...Our leaders now treat climate change as a guilty secret. Even after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the record droughts and wildfires that savaged the US, the two main presidential contenders refused to mention the subject, except for one throwaway sentence each. Has an issue this big ever received as little attention in a presidential race?

...This contributes to what I have come to see as a great global polishing: a rubbing away of ecosystems and natural structures by the intensification of farming, fishing, mining and other industries. Looking back on this year a few decades hence, this destruction will seem vastly more significant than any of the stories with which the media is obsessed. Like governments, media companies have abandoned the living world.

 ...If there is hope, it lies with the people. Opinion polls show that voters do not support their governments' inaction. Even a majority of Conservatives believe that the UK should generate most of its electricity from renewables by 2030. In the US, 80% of people polled now say that climate change will be a serious problem for their country if nothing is done about it: a substantial rise since 2009. The problem is that most people are not prepared to act on these beliefs. Citizens, as well as governments and the media, have turned their faces away from humanity's greatest problem.

To avoid another terrible year like 2012, we must translate these passive concerns into a mass mobilisation. Groups such as 350.org show how it might be done. If this annus horribilis tells us anything, it is that action, in the absence of such mobilisation, is simply not going to happen. Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change.

While Monbiot didn't write directly about Canada, everything he wrote very much speaks to Canada and the hapless Parliament that besets the Canadian people.   All the opinion polls in the world won't make our tri-partisan petro pols change.   If we want change we'll have to force it out of them.

If you're a Liberal, supporting Garneau, Hall-Findlay or Trudeau, is supporting the perpetuation of the Canadian petro-state.   Is that the Liberal Party you want for Canada?   If it's not, don't support it.  Withdraw.  Defect to the Greens.   The GPC policies are far more progressive than anything you'll ever get from today's shabby remnant of the once great Liberal Party.

Go to the Green Party web site.   Unlike the other parties that cower in obscurity awaiting an election that's still years off, the Greens have clear, understandable and cogent policies that speak to the very ills that vex our society.

Look at it this way.   It's probably going to take something of the scope of an uprising to force change out of Harper.   But we don't have to wait for that day.   We can first force change out of the opposition parties.   They're weak, poor, vulnerable - everything that translates into a dire need for support.  It's time to tell them you're not buying what they're selling any more.

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