Jonathan J. Halperin
Jonathan J. Halperin
Designing Research, Communications
and Strategies for Sustainability

Failure?

As part of the global marketing of Hope in a Changing Climate, the award-winning film Halperin executive produced with a team from the Environmental Education Media Project, Halperin authored a series of blog posts from December 2009 to June 2010. The following dispatch is part of this series.

To learn more about the film and ecosystem restoration, see the Hope in a Changing Climate project.


Word from inside the plenary this windy and cold Friday morning in Denmark is that things are tense and unprecedented.  This mirrors Achim’s Steiner’s characterization Wednesday that the talks were “in crisis.”  And in conversation with a range of people in the last 24 hours there is a broad sense that the groundwork has not been laid for a binding treaty.  Even as most fundamental of disagreements remain unresolved, operational details of implementation have begun to unwind as well.

Regardless of what does or not come by way of final agreements or statements from the Conference of Parties, beyond this meeting the human response to climate change cannot honestly be described as anything other than a colossal failure.  Some good, particularly around the issues of forests and desertification, will almost assuredly emerge; and those are important steps forward.  But remember, even a stopped clock is right twice every day.

As a species, we have delayed and denied.

As a species, we have procrastinated.

As a species, we have squabbled and bickered when action was needed.

As a species, we have failed the next generation in our refusal to be held accountable.

As a species, we have played a global shell game of avoided responsibility.

But let us not, please, add insult to injury by repeating the surreal arrogance of last July’s G8 pledge to keep global temperatures within 2°.  Are we really so wiling to engage in farce that we think we can simply instruct nature to keep the temperature down?  Perhaps, we might also commit the nations of the world to, say, the end of mudslides; let us pledge to eliminate, perhaps, hurricanes; or solemnly agree to ensure a white Christmas.

While it is one thing to be on the wrong side of history, it is quite beyond that to be on the wrong side of geology, to be in denial of how our basic natural systems have evolved over the course of evolutionary time.  It is we, the human species, who need to take responsibility for our own future.  Nature, embraced, is our greatest ally, our greatest resource, our greatest hope for a secure and stable future.  But as nature knows not of politics, politics had best soon learn to know much, much more about nature than our leaders show evidence of understanding today.

-- Jonathan J. Halperin

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Pay attention. Pay very close attention. This is just the beginning.
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