Banners hoisted into the midday heat by over 1000 People’s Climate Marchers in Cape Town today called for: Climate Justice! Emissions must fall! Stop the talk & start the change – there is no Planet B! Don’t be fossil fools become eco-logical. God gave us the sun and wind – best we use them! And many more. In spite of or perhaps because of the Paris terror the Peoples’ Climate March 2015 promises to have the widest global support in COP history. People calling for ethical governance, for putting people and the planet ahead of profit have not given up hope that our politicians will mature into the leaders we need them to be at the 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP).
Cape Town’s Climate March started with a call to put love for the Earth and co-operation between countries and communities ahead of fear and competition for resources.
In the words of Naomi Klein: “Climate change … is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.”
Our civilization has become stuck – stuck in an old story that gave birth to materialistic capitalism. A story inspired by hundreds of years of scientific discovery that encouraged a view of the Earth as a mechanical model which we can manipulate like smart engineers! A story that has spread to the furthest reaches of the planet as each new technology enabled us to harness more of the ancient sunlight concentrated in fossil fuels! A story that feeds the ego and forgets that we are interconnected with and dependent on a living Earth! A story supported by selective readings of the Abrahamic faiths which place mankind above creation! A story that the legal eagles have been quick to legitimize with their laws giving some humans rights and nature none! And the most persistent and intoxicating chapter of all, the marketing of material excess as a substitute for health and happiness.
The old story acknowledges that there will be some environmental sacrifices – mainly in remote areas. But there are no remote areas on a living interconnected Earth. Melting ice raises the whole world’s sea levels. Rising temperatures change the whole world’s climate. Now the sacrifices are human. We are seeing increasing and violent conflicts for control over fossil fuel reserves, crop failures and drought refugees, the devastation of cities by tropical storms, massive species extinction coupled with a breakdown of the essential ecological services that serve us such as clean air and water.
It is time for a new story before civilization becomes the next sacrifice. Climate change is not a natural disaster – it is a human one. A symptom of a dysfunctional socio-economic system. The Earth has recovered from previous biological crashes. It will recover from man made pollution and habitat destruction. The question is – will we? “We are at risk of being evicted for bad behaviour:” Naomi Klein. And until then too many of us are living on anti-depressants or with allergies!
A new story is slowly emerging, one that the Climate Marchers with their banners are expressing. A story that calls for connection with the Earth and of a common human family. The question is how to spread it? Our so –called democratic governments are Absent WithOut Leave. Critical economic and welfare decisions are influenced by the vested interests of the powerful few. Lack of leadership and a fear of the material inconveniences associated with sharing and living within the Earth’s resource boundaries is slowing the wide scale rebirth of this new story.
The 2015 Climate March is over, the banners stored. Can we wait for someone else to make a world of difference? Change comes from the grassroots – a reLOVution of understanding that conflict for resources breeds ongoing conflict. We need to start by living the new stories – individual by individual – community by community. How! By respecting and treating Nature as our Earth partner. By changing our current economic system based on resource extraction and debt traps to one based on renewable resources and equitable sharing. By reducing our individual demands on resources – there are 7 billion of us and rising. By being conscious of our energy and water demands and becoming efficient consumers. By supporting and investing in ethical businesses – renewable energy rather than fossil fuel – fair trade rather than exploitation, local goods rather than exotic imports, durable rather than fashionable.
It is the new cool, not just for a season, but for a habitable planet for all, for ever.
Kim Kruyshaar 29 November 2015