jeudi 26 novembre 2009

Before Copenhague

I don't talk much about my environmental concerns. First of all, I don't believe in preaching. If anyone is interested and wants to ask me a few questions, I'll buy them coffee gladly. But I won't bother people who don't care.

However, I would like to say a few words about the environment before the summit on climate change in Copenhague. This is what I'm studying after all.

1°Climate change is happening. Whether you believe that scientists worldwide are conspiring together to destroy capitalism or that man is the origin of 100% of global warming, that doesn't change facts. The earth is getting warmer.

2°We don't know what that means. Anyone who tells you that we have scientific proof about the consequences of global warming is lying. Scientists can make projections and there are a few things that seem statistically probable like sea levels rising etc. But these models remain models. Some are very optimistic, some are very pessimistic. In the end, we have no certainties.

3°Something is certain though: Western countries are not going to suffer as much as developping countries. We're talking overpopulation, droughts, famine, disease here. I'm not judging people's habits: we could all be more environmentally friendly, or frugal. I'm just saying: why do I deserve a better life than someone in THailand or in Sudan?

4°There is something you can do: get informed. Sure, if every American car respected European regulations you would save the equivalent of enough energy for 1 billion people in developping countries. Sure, eating less meat, eating local, using energy-saving light bulbs are good ideas. But there is no black or white: doing these things does not mean you are a "good" person. Sometimes environmental behaviour is counter-intuitive: if you stop drinking coffee because coffee cultivation is the cause of so much deforestation, you are also depriving developping countries of a chance to offer a better life for their people. It's not simple. But read about it. Read conflicting opinions. Ignorance is never the right choice.

Nothing is going to be decided in Copenhague. Why? Because China and India won't reduce their carbon emissions unless the US does as well. And do you think the US congress will vote such an unpopular reform anytime soon? Maybe if people petitionned their representatives, but I'm not seeing that happening either. In France President Sarkozy wants us to pay a carbon tax and no one is happy about that either.

I truly believe there are ways to make changes without coercion or treating people like stupid children. That talking honestly, without scare-mongering tactics, is the best policy. We've all seen pictures of polar bears dying or of children in Africa eating mud because water supplies are polluted or dried up. Newsweek is full of them. I'll see them, feel terrible, and go on with my life. Emotional blackmail is no way to change the world.

I'll get off my soapbox now. But if anyone has any questions, coffee's on me...

2 commentaires:

  1. Well, I'd certainly like to meet you for coffee.

    I'm with you. I do what I can and share your concerns, but I pretty much keep to myself about it.

  2. Wise words from someone so young. And interestingly, if you were to change the topic, the message is the same! Be informed. Know both sides. Good advice in general for all!