December 12, 2009

Herding Cats

Copenhagen is upon us, and it brings with it an even greater muddle of thoughts than Kyoto.

Our science in the matter of climate change is in its infancy. Yet we are dealing not with pure science, but with a type of scientific materialism enacted by means of a philosophically prejudiced control over the interpretations. *

What we can be sure of is that humankind’s ability to pollute its very foundation of existence – the planet Earth – has been a gathering trend since the advent of the industrial revolution.

Only humans, only humans have invested in the power to create such toxicity, such fearful and hideous by-products of selfishness that they are prepared to create poisons that will pollute the earth for hundreds of thousands of years to come. No-one knows the solution to nuclear waste, yet we are prepared to bury it in the ground, sink it in the sea, and absolve ourselves from any responsibility for it. Who knows whether future generations can discover the way to neutralise this radio-active waste? Who knows if they will even know where it languishes?

The rivers of China are devastated, running orange and filthy for hundreds of miles. The Niger Delta is steeped in chemical waste so foul that the water is undrinkable and the fish are dead. The tar sands of Canada are the world's biggest single industrial source of carbon emissions. The list is endless and the cause is always the same – consumerism. Profit before the planet every time; profit for the few –and we buy it.

The current pseudo-system is no longer tolerable – and it never was viable. Nevertheless those who are currently in power are not inclined to deal with, at root, the global systemic breakdown. Many continue to complain that while the waters, the air and the land are daily becoming more overwhelmingly polluted, that there is some necessary (and action-preventing) controversy to be engaged relative to whether global warming is a reality or not. But the evidence is irrefutable. The Earth is being polluted and the cause is human.*

Glaciers are retreating, seas are warming, ice caps are melting. Does it make sense to keep on polluting?

The solutions to real or perceived climate change are the same as the solutions to poverty and social justice. In a fairer world where individual human beings can share in the same economic advantages, where profiteering at the expense of the poor and the disenfranchised would be minimised, where locally based economies could prosper and retain their prosperity instead of filling the pockets of distant owners, people would be cushioned from the effects of global recession and be more mindful of the polluting side effects of their endeavours.

Vast amounts of untapped renewable energy like wind, tidal and solar power exist in every country, yet investment has been miniscule compared with the trillions put into propping up the antiquated and dirty fossil fuel industry.

The herding of cats to Copenhagen will at best decide a plan to curb carbon emissions and send a charitable financial leg-up to developing countries. But it will never in a month of Sundays solve the root problems of economic and social injustice.

*Taken from Not-Two Is Peace by Adi Da

For more details on the Canadian tar sands:

For more about Shell polluting the Niger Delta:

Out of sight and out of mind?

Military waste is generally toxic and costly to dispose of safely, so the solution has usually been to dump it in the sea where it can keep company with nuclear waste. At the end of the Second World War Britain had over 2 million tons of munitions - artillery shells, phosphorus flares, mortars, incendiaries and cluster bombs and so on, to get rid of.

It was dumped in Beaufort Dyke, and this 30-mile long trench between Scotland and Ireland became a major military dumping ground for 30 years thereafter. 14,000 tonnes of phosgene-filled rockets, 120,000 tonnes of UK-manufactured mustard gas and 17,000 tonnes of the German nerve gas Tabun were just a small part of the wide variety of munitions dumped.
Out of sight and out of mind? But not for long - in 1995, 4,000 phosphorus incendiary bombs from Beaufort Dyke were washed up on Mull, Oban, Arran and other parts of Scotland's west coast. That is just the beginning. Do you eat fish?

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