During the recent COP23 summit in Bonn, a taxi driver provided a clear summary. Asked what he thought of COP 23, he replied “the climate is in crisis, but here, this is about money.” He had provided what had been missing inside. As we race toward certain and expanding catastrophe, he underscored that profiteering off a destructive cycle production, consumption, shipping, the unnecessary transport of products over vast distances and continuous growth models form the basis from which these discussions are framed. It is as though the elephant in the room is never acknowledged, with few exceptions.
How does this appear? In North America you can try this experiment. Turn down the volume of your TV and watch the myriad of commercial advertisements where someone is unhappy until they possess a certain product and suddenly, presto! Everything is great and everyone is happy. The same rubric repeats, again and again. Buy and smile. Smile and buy. Crave to belong as if this will somehow connect us together and create momentary windows of happiness while the earth burns. A crude system of modern feudalism has engulfed the planet where a handful of men — eight, to be precise — own half the planet. In this obscene reality a man can be worth more than a nation. Political leaders and major institutions act as though by convincing a handful of rich sociopaths we can save life on the planet.
Yet power does not, and never has, surrendered anything without a fight or creation of something new. Our uncomfortable future demands that climate criminals should not be enabled with our caps in hand with appeals to do the right thing — certainly those outcomes have been far too modest to date. The rules of the game must change that would remove them from their pedestals of power and our addictions to things we really do not need (and often having them increases the cycle and need for more) while altering the current definitions of value including patriarchal approaches thousands of years old of competition and ‘winning’ at the expense of another.
At COP we are like hamsters on a wheel, living off the ripples of colonialism and wealth accumulation while discussing the speed at which the wheel turns through a series of silos and frameworks. What is needed is to get off that wheel and reconnect with our essence, the earth, and one another.
Read the rest of the article, originally posted by The Bullet, here.
Dave Bleakney is the 2nd National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.