Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Don't Pin the Tail on the Climate Change Conference

I found this interesting post over at the Dhamma Musings blog on the Copenhagen global warming conference. I have to say I really don't expect much to come out of a conference like this. The leaders of the big polluters of the world, such as China and my own nation, really haven't realized that we can't have both the current greed-driven economic model and a more "right relationship" with the planet. And I'm sorry, but tinkering with carbon levels, even at a global level, will never be enough.

One of the main reasons why these kinds of conferences tend not to produce great visions for change is that they are both top-down driven, and also imbalanced within. Specifically, no matter what the other 190+ nations think, powerhouses like China and the U.S. can derail the whole thing. In my opinion, it's going to take a radical inward shift of enough people globally when it comes to how we live on this planet for major "outward" shifts to occur. And at the same time, some of the inspiration for those inward changes will come not from glossy sounding, but lacking in substance international agreements, but from grassroots groups on the ground all over the world. This is already happening. I, personally, can point to many such groups that I have learned about over the last decade that have helped change my opinion about my relationship to the planet. A few examples are the following:

Small Planet Institute - founded by Frances and Anna Lappe (a mother and daughter team) who have, among other things, traveled the world documenting grassroots environmental and social change movements.

Yes! Magazine - which is filled with intelligent, even upbeat without the syrup writing about social change.

Edible Schoolyard - a program out in Berkeley, California that transformed the way an elementary school's children learned into a much more eco-centered approach.

The city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil - which flipped the modern food paradigm on it's head through a series of creative approaches that opened the access door to healthy, organic food for everyone, regardless of their income level, living in the city.

These are just a few examples of groups of people making a difference when it comes to the environment and the quality of human life, and inspiring others in the process. So, maybe the Copenhagen conference is a big bust, or maybe they come up with some palatable compromise that shifts things a little bit - but I'd like to suggest that we look elsewhere for the real changes. And to continue to meditate and reflect on right relationship to/with the planet in each of our lives.

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