China has become the world’s workshop. If I buy a parasol, a screwdriver, or a stove, I can see all the objects marked “Made in PRC – People’s Republic of China.” Wood that is purchased in Europe is exported to China and then comes back in the form of furniture. International transport of both raw materials and manufactured goods increases and contributes to global warming through greenhouse gas emissions. Manufactured products are so inexpensive – through the exploitation of the vast Chinese labor force – that repairing products is no longer economical. Suppose that I by a lawnmower for 500 euros. If it breaks down and the repair costs me 400 euros, it is “better” to buy a new one. The economics of waste are at full throttle. Many people are beginning to think that this system is no longer sustainable. It is too costly in terms of both raw materials and energy consumption. While it results in the growing industrialization of many countries, it keeps others in poverty. How might we build a different society, based on simplicity, the sharing of knowledge, and local development?
The Fabulous Laboratories
Part of the solution may be emerging. It’s becoming known as the Fab Lab: “Fabrication Laboratory” in English, “Fab Labs” in French. The Fab Lab concept applies to the industrial world the spirit of sharing and innovation that is presently encountered, free-of-charge, on the internet via shareware software and social networks. The Fab Labs allow consumers to create their own futures!
Neil Gershenfeld, an American physicist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), launched the first Fab Lab in 2002. At the Insitute, he designed a course entitled “How to make (almost) anything.” In it, Gershenfeld has run sessions on designing prototypes to help students complete their research projects. The course provides them with a wide range of digital production tools, particularly 3D printers, that can apply one or more layers of plastic to transform a file concept into a real object; as well as laser cutters and milling machines that are capable of cutting and carving wood and iron following digital commands. Quickly, this concept has captured the imagination of the MIT students, moved out of the college classroom, and developed far afield. In his book, FAB, the next revolution on your desktop, Gershenfeld writes that instead of “providing information technology to the masses, Fab labs show that it is possible to give them tools to develop and find local technological solutions to local problems.”
In an article in Le Monde Diplomatique entitled, “Tomorrow: factories in our living rooms” (June 2012), Sabine White writes: “Here is the blueprint for an economic policy that bypasses traditional industry. Your washing machine’s button is broken? Using a computer and software for conceptualizing the problem [employing free software, of course], you draw up a plan, and the 3D printer models it, and you then produce the tangible object… the replacement washing machine button. Of course once the artifact is produced, you can share the plans on the Internet with other users, offering them variations and enhancements, giving the product more life after its production.” The Fab Lab can also fulfill industry needs that cannot be met because of an insufficient market. In Ghana, users take advantage of Fab Labs to develop solar stoves; while in Mali, digital radio can send video content for training programs in remote areas with tips found in Fab Labs. In India, a Fab Lab produces devices for measuring the quality of milk from small producers. In Kenya, Fab Labs make possible the manufacturing of water pumps without having to import parts from Europe. The Fab Labs enable students to participate in the creative process. They help isolated populations in poor countries and can provide machinery for innovative small and medium enterprises.
The consumer becomes a producer
Allowing anyone access to simple industrial machines at low cost is a departure from conventional production. This is why communities of hackers want to invest in Fab Labs. Alexandre Korber, Member of TMP Lab, a place of innovation run by hackers in Vitry, near Paris, said: “The Fab Lab uses the same principle as hacking: it teaches people to be themselves.”
The fabulous lab is conceptualized as a space in which to share skills, new technologies, and the art of recycling. It contains tools ranging from the most rudimentary to the more sophisticated machines, all controlled by software: saw, cutter, milling machine, free software, and small robots. Download a model of bike or plan for a washing machine, and then, thanks to a 3D printer that makes small objects and other machines which in turn cut and fold, you just have to assemble the final product.
So what are we waiting for?! To your computers and your machines! When will Indaba.Network set up its first Fab Lab?
[Please see the Indaba Resources page’s “Social Economy” sheet: “How to install a Fab Lab”].
Posted by biornmayburylewis in Uncategorized on March 19, 2012
Do you know Rose Wataka? Probably not. Her message came to us via indabaXchange, our social network project, like a message in a bottle thrown into the sea. It barely had any real chance to be read and taken into account.
Yet this message is not one that comes from another world. Rose Wataka lives in Webuye, a town of 19,000 inhabitants in the Bungoma District of northwestern Kenya. The neighborhood in which she lives is known as the Muslim Estate and has about 200 families. With some friends, Rose has created an organization: Muslim Estate Self Help Organization.
The purpose of this organization is to mobilize the local population to solve a crucial problem, that of collecting and recycling garbage.
Africa facing waste
Formerly, in African villages, most waste was organic and nature was able to recycle it easily. Today, the majority of Africans live in big cities and are gradually adopting Western consumption patterns. They eventually come to purchase the same food, same drinks, and the same consumer goods as people in Europe and America. For this reason, like us, they produce a considerable amount of waste, much of which is toxic and not biodegradable. Examples include aluminum packaging, used storage batteries, waste oil, and plastic bags. Today, plastic bags are utilized even in the traditional markets. In all African countries, tourists can see throughout the countryside black plastic bags caught in tree branches or strewn on the ground in fields. The bags will last hundreds of years, polluting the soil, while animals will swallow or become entangled in them and die. When the bags are burned, they give off dioxin, poisoning the atmosphere.
Industrialized countries have made considerable progress in reducing pollution. They have managed to establish mechanisms for collection and recycling of waste otherwise destined for landfills. This implies:
1. An administrative control that regulates waste management and provides for penalties for non-compliance;
2. Education of the citizenry to incorporate new habits from new models of consumption, while developing awareness of environmental problems;
3. Financial mobilization for the implementation of an infrastructure that oversees the classification, collection, and elimination or waste.
But all this is simply out of the reach of most poor countries. So, in effect, by exporting our products made in the industrialized nations to the those that are not industrialized, we export also our pollution. Sometimes we, in the wealthier countries, do even worse. Western societies are taking advantage of the weakness of some of the southern states (eg., Somalia), fraudulently dumping on their shores industrial and nuclear waste that is both very dangerous and very expensive to recycle. Apparently, Africans can go ahead and die of our waste if it saves us the cost of recycling.
The only solution within the reach of poor countries is to mobilize their people to make them aware of the problem and develop their own actions necessary for collecting and recycling waste. This is what Rose and her friends would like to do in Wataka with the Muslim Estate Self Help Organization.
Rose Wataka’s fight
Rose is 52 and a teacher. She is not an expert on the collection and recycling of waste. She is simply a woman aware of the dangers of not practicing waste management, and the threat that this represents to the environment and people’s health. We must help Rose Wataka.
I am in dialogue with her for several weeks, now, over the Internet. She probably is using an internet cafe computer to contact me. I am helping her, little by little, to build a viable action project. Not a ready-made model, projected to her from a distance, but an action plan built by her and her friends, related to their situation as well as the problems they experience, drawing on their resources. Soon Rose and her friends will create a group on IndabaXchange, enabling them to tell us directly their dreams and needs.
Help us to help Rose: Who among you has the skills or experience necessary in the field of collecting and recycling waste in developing countries? Do you have any ideas on generating income and jobs from recycling? Who might be available to help build a viable project? Who is willing to invest some money to help purchase equipment and basic tools?
Beyond the aid needed to start the action, the important thing is to help Rose and her friends to find solutions that will empower them and enable them to pursue the action on their own.
We are counting on you.
“Civilization and Its Discontents” Revisited: The French Interior Minister Condemns People of Civilizations other than His Own
By Dominique Bénard
The Interior Minister of the French Government, in an outlandish and peremptory statement, has directly attacked people of foreign origin living in France by saying:
”There are patterns of behavior that have no place in our country, not because they are foreign, but because they do not conform to our worldview, particularly regarding the dignity of women and men. Contrary to the relativistic ideology of the left, for us all civilizations are not equal. Those who defend humanity seem to us more advanced than those who deny it. Those who stand for freedom, equality and fraternity appear to us superior to those which accept tyranny, oppression of women, and social or ethnic hatred. In any event, we must protect our civilization.”
The minister’s objective is clear: in this campaign period (presidential elections will be held in France next April), attacking people of foreign origin, particularly those with Islamic backgrounds, can attract extreme right votes.
Mr. Guéant has his certainties, particularly that Western civilization protects freedom, equality, fraternity. It is therefore superior to others … How may me remind Mr. Guéant that the civilization about which he boasts gave birth to the Crusades, religious wars, mass slavery, colonization, genocide of Native Americans, racism, the world wars, the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki … not to mention other smaller massacres?
Would a reminder of the judgment of American Indians (people who are victims of European genocide) on Western civilization, put the minister’s ideas in their proper perspective?
Wise old Wintu (California Indians)
“White people make fun of the earth, the deer, or bear. When we Indians seek roots, we make small holes. When we build our teepees, we make little holes. We only use dead wood. The white man, he upends the earth, cuts down trees, destroys everything. The tree says, ‘Stop, I’m hurt, do not make me ill.’ But blindly he charges on. He hates the spirit of the earth. He tears the trees and shakes up their roots. He saws the trees. This hurts them. The Indians never do wrong, while the white man ruins everything. He blows up the rocks and scatters the leaves. The rock says, ‘Stop, you’re hurting me.’ But the white man does not pay attention. When the Indians use the stone, they are small and round for lighting their fires … How could the spirit of the earth love the white man? … Whatever he touches, he leaves a wound.”
Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Sioux chief, 1875
“See, my brothers, the spring has come, the Earth has received the embrace of the sun, and we will soon see the fruits of this love. Every seed is awakened and even the animals come to life. We owe our existence to this mysterious power, which is why we grant to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same rights as we have to live in this land …Yet hear me, you all, we are now dealing with another race, one that was small and feeble when our fathers met for the first time, but today is large and arrogant. Strangely enough, they have the idea of cultivating the soil and love to possess it, which is a disease.
”These same people have made many rules that the rich may break but not the poor. They levy taxes on the poor and weak to maintain the rich who rule. They claim our mother, Earth, for their own use and barricade themselves against their neighbors, and they disfigure it with their buildings and refuse. This nation is like a torrent of melted snow that overflows its banks and destroys everything in its path. ”
Pachgantschilhilas, chief of the Delaware
”The white men proclaimed loudly that their laws were made for everyone, but it immediately became clear that, while hoping we would obey them, they did not hesitate to break them themselves.
”Their elders advised us to adopt their religion but we quickly discovered that there were a great number of them. We could not understand them, and two white men rarely agree on the need to follow them. This embarrassed us until the day we realized that the white man did not take his religion any more seriously than his laws. They kept their laws close at hand, as instruments to use at will in their dealings with outsiders.”
Kondiarionk, Huron chief, addressing the Baron de Lahontan, French lieutenant in Newfoundland.
”You are already so wretched that you can hardly become more so. What kind of man is the European? What kind of creature does he choose to be, forced to do good while having no real motivation for this other than fear of punishment? (…) In truth my dear brother, I pity you from the depths of my soul. Take my advice and becomes Huron. I see clearly the profound difference between my position and yours. I am the master of my condition. I am the master of my body. I have myself at my disposal, I do what I like, I am the first and last of my nation, I fear no man absolutely, and I depend only on the Great Spirit.
“It is not the same for you. Your body as well as your soul is condemned to depend on your great captain, your viceroy who commands you. You have no freedom to do what you have in mind. You’re afraid of thieves, murderers, false witnesses, etc. And you depend on a multitude of people whose place is situated above yours. Is this not true?”
Brotherhood of man.
Perhaps we might also remind Mr. Guéant of this passage from the Gospel of Luke (6, 41): “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye and do not you see the plank in your own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me take the speck in your eye, you who do not see the plank in your own? Hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye and then shalt thou see clearly enough to remove the speck in your brother’s eye.”
At Indaba-Network, we believe that there has only been one human family since the appearance of Homo Sapiens on earth, and that each particular civilization is a symphony in the concert of humankind that we must discover and enjoy to allow us to grow as Humankind. Thus, any civilization progresses when it looks at another fraternally and regresses when the other is stigmatized or excluded as an enemy.
For better-off families, the December/January Holiday Season is a period of traditional overeating, while the millions of people who suffer from chronic lack of food and the millions of children who die of malnutrition, worldwide, remain forgotten. Yet paradoxically, diseases once associated with opulent societies and wealthy people increasingly affect both rich and poor countries.
A worldwide epidemic
Being overweight and obese (fat) are among today’s leading health risk factors throughout the world, causing 4 million deaths every year. Obesity is often associated with high blood pressure, high blood glucose (diabetes), cardiovascular diseases and cardiac failure.
Until a few decades ago, obesity was considered a condition associated with high socioeconomic status. Indeed, early in the 20th century, most populations in which obesity became a public health problem were located in the developed world. Beginning in the United States and then spreading to Europe, obesity is now fast emerging as the new pandemic (or worldwide epidemic) of the XXIst century. It affects both sexes and all age groups and has a disproportionate impact upon disadvantaged population groups. By 2030, for example, more than 50 per cent of the adult population in the USA will be obese.
Dramatic increases in some developing countries
Now, however, the most dramatic increases in obesity are occurring in some developing countries. In poor countries, initially the higher socioeconomic strata of the population were primarily affected but a shift is taking place from the higher to the lower socioeconomic levels. So, while low childhood weight is still responsible for the death of over 2 million children every year, mainly in low-income countries, it is not uncommon to find households with an undernourished child and an overweight adult, often a woman. In 2010, the World Health Organization reported that more than 42 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese, and, of those, 35 million lived in developing countries. In addition, obesity goes hand in hand with inequality. In any country, the higher the level of income inequality, the higher the numbers of obese people.
What is the cause ?
In the long run, the rise in obesity will reduce overall life expectancy, while it is already increasing short- and long-term healthcare expenditures, contributing to making such expenditures unsustainable in national budgets.
What is the cause of this catastrophic global rise in chronic diseases related to obesity?
If you think that fat people are solely responsible for their condition because of their individual behavior, or that their obesity is not your problem, you are wrong!
Indeed, at the individual level, obesity is basically the consequence of the imbalance between energy consumption (physical exercise) and energy intake (what and how much you eat): individual choices. Yet choices are strongly influenced by and increasingly dependent on powerful external factors. Let’s analyze them briefly.
Change in the global food system
The process of globalization has transformed the global food system: traditional food production, feeding practices and behaviors have been abandoned or have profoundly changed. Local agricultural production has become increasingly dependent on resources (such as fertilizers, pesticides, genetically engineered seeds) controlled by powerful transnational companies at the global level.
To maximize their profits those companies, which often control the entire production and distribution cycle, push for increased consumption of food by offering their consumers ample opportunities to eat throughout the day. Global fast food chains are strategically positioned everywhere offering low cost, palatable, high-sugar, high-fat, high-salt food. Sugar is possibly addictive and salt causes thirst which pushes people to consume increasing quantities of sweetened beverages which are of no nutritional value. Highly processed food is pervasively and persuasively marketed.
Industrially processed foods
Globalized diets based on industrially processed foods (with added sugar, fats, salt, and chemical flavor enhancers) have progressively substituted traditional diets based on locally produced and individually home prepared foods. Such diets are at the root of the dramatic increase in chronic diseases and obesity. Concurrent causes are urbanization (with reduced distances and availability of transport) and new technologies, which have revolutionized work and entertainment and dramatically reduced physical exercise: think of children and young people sitting many hours a days in front of the TV or computer, typically consuming popcorn, sweet snacks and beverages!
In addition, the production and distribution cycle of industrially processed food is not environmentally sustainable and implies enormous environmental costs, adding additional long term consequences to health, including unpredictable genetic effects.
Obesity in the industrialized world goes hand in hand with food waste. Rich and fat societies are also squanderers. Yearly, at the level of the consumer, rich countries throw away 222 million tons of food, an amount which is slightly less than the total net food production in sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons), where malnutrition because of the lack of food is still widespread causing the death of millions of children.
In synthesis, obesity is a very serious global problem increasingly affecting populations everywhere which is linked to disease, high mortality, unfair distribution of resources and destruction of the planet! But the trend can be reverted and we can do a lot both individually and as organized groups, acting locally, nationally and globally through appropriate networks.
Let’s reverse the trend!
Let’s start by modifying our individual nutritional behavior. Avoid as much as possible industrially processed food, including snacks and sweetened beverages. Avoid fast-food and adding sugar to your food. Privilege natural food rich in fiber, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, locally produced and prepared at home. Increase the quantity of vegetables and reduce the amount of meat in your diet (meat consumption is related to cancer and meat production implies enormous consumption of water; furthermore, to produce a kilogram of vegetable protein costs far less in inputs than production of a kilogram of meat protein). Keep active and do physical exercise on a regular daily basis.
If we organize ourselves in groups we can do more. Those who live in rural areas may engage in local production of food and apply the rules of biological cultivation and farming (avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides, using instead dung and compost and organic repellants!).
Those who live in an urban area can create a consumer association to buy directly from farms in the region that use biological agriculture and farming techniques. This will grant both to consumers and the farmer fair prices and reduce for the latter the higher business risks of biological agriculture.
By networking nationally and globally we may engage in advocacy for public health nutritional education campaigns. We must especially push for public policies that regulate the production and marketing of unhealthy food. Scientific literature shows that health promotion programs do not address the underlying social and economic drivers of the obesity epidemic and that policy-led approaches (such as banning high fat and sugar food in canteens, strictly regulating unhealthy food marketing, or using fiscal leverages to reduce incentives to consume and produce unhealthy food) generally show greater cost-effectiveness than health promotion.
No corporate social responsibility without a strong social control
Transnational companies control much of what we eat. Exercising social control on the food industry, for example participating in watch-dog networks, is another possible way to engage in a movement for public health. Industries are extremely sensitive to social pressure which may put their profits at risk, and they may respond to public health concerns and consumer demands to change their products and portfolios.
Nowadays, companies often point out their Corporate Social Responsibility policies, but without strong social control from civil society organizations, that claim may remain just another way to attract consumers, showing the company’s good face, while perpetuating malpractice and the marketing of inappropriate and unhealthy food. Too often, food industries resists national and international public health attempts to modify current practices through legislative changes. Companies eventually by-pass regulations governing marketing strategies, or simply sacrifice their profits in industrialized countries and turn to developing countries where both institutional and civil society responses are often weaker, whereas social damage may be even greater.
The overall model of development is the threat
As you can see, obesity and chronic diseases share an underlying cause with many other threats to humanity: namely, the overall model of development in which we live. Young people are those most capable of embracing a future-oriented vision but, to be effective, they should take advantage of the experience of previous generations and lessons learned. Obesity is another good indicator of the urgent need for a paradigmatic shift from today’s development model. To that end, let’s reduce inequalities, maximize health rather than profit, promote and sustain local knowledge, local production and local consumption, while enjoying our experience and sharing it with others!
Posted by biornmayburylewis in Uncategorized on December 30, 2011
“…Poverty is created by the system, and therefore, if you want to fight against poverty, we must change the system.”
Muhammad YUNUS, Nobel Price 2006
We hear all about the social economy or solidarity economy but how do we define the social and solidarity economy?
The social and solidarity economy is an economy at the service of another type of development. Today, we speak of social and solidarity economy to refer to companies and associations whose purpose is more focused on the social or environmental value added than solely on financial gain.
The term “social and solidarity economy” (SSE) is an expression that emerged in the 1980s. It is more frequently used in some countries than in others. In Quebec and in English speaking countries, for example, the term “social economy” encompasses all of what is termed here the “social and solidarity economy.” While in France, as in some other countries, there are researchers and activists who believe that the social economy and solidarity economy refer to quite different approaches.
The Social Economy
The social economy was born in the 19th century with the idea of basing the production of goods and services on the needs of all and not on the interest of a few. The aim was also to apply democratic principles, such as “one person, one vote”, to economic activities; for example, the voting at shareholder’ general meetings.
Confronted with the damage caused by capitalism and the Industrial Revolution, during the 19th century, social reformers and utopian thinkers sought alternatives to the nationalization of the means of production. They would invent a collective way to produce goods and services. They created cooperatives, mutual benefit societies and associations. The term “social economy” now commonly refers to all these institutional structures, which are particularly active in complementary social protection: insurance, banks, welfare, public education, sports, culture, agriculture …
The solidarity economy appeared, in the 1970’s, within a context of mass unemployment, rising social exclusion and a search for a new mode of development. Alternative economic activities were created: fair trade, organic farming and shortened distribution channels from producer to consumer, micro-credit (well developed in India), local exchange trading systems (LETS), structures of social integration through economic activities…
Social and solidarity economy
The term “social and solidarity economy” appeared in the early 1980s in France, following the actions of certain Socialist Party leaders who favored these “other forms of entrepreneurship.” It is a term that has become common in countries where Latin languages are spoken (especially in French, Spanish, and Portuguese-speaking countries), but not in other linguistic areas.
Values of the social and solidarity economy
The social and solidarity economy combines reciprocity, the market, redistribution within a legal framework based on the freedom of membership as opposed to private profit making (surpluses are not redistributed as a return to capital provided), and equality based on real needs. The solidarity economy looks for a mix of various kinds of resources (market, non-commercial, non-monetary). The solidarity economy is not an economy of repair. Instead, it renews the public debate on economic and social issues. Networks of the solidarity economy are at the origin of a myriad of social initiatives aimed at meeting new needs.
But to be concrete and practical …
The originality of the social and solidarity economy is to provide accurate and concrete answers to difficulties of linking local actions with a broader effort to democratize the economy. The SSE, indeed, was gradually defined from practices that have emerged within individual and collective actions, at the grass root level, developed by:
- residents, users or professionals taking charge of the design of services they feel necessary
- entrepreneurs, wanting to support the social integration of people in difficulty through utilization of economic mechanisms
- consumers, organizing themselves to ensure the quality of products they buy
- investors, willing to use their money differently …
All these practices, despite the diversity of situations, gather around a common feature: they put mutual aid and reciprocity at the heart of economic action; people associate freely to conduct joint actions that contribute to creating economic activities and jobs while strengthening social cohesion through new social relationships of solidarity. The individual and collective willingness for entrepreneurship, demonstrated by involved actors, cannot be explained solely by material interest. The risks taken by contractors are due to the existence of a shared vision to democratize the economy.
These experiences are organized in a spirit of citizenship by fostering the creation of local public spaces, that is to say places allowing people to speak, debate, decide, design and develop economic projects tailored to the contexts in which they emerge. In this, they are widely reported to networks of civil society which, by their commitment, also contribute both to the production of goods and services as well as to the deepening of democracy.
So now you know a little better what is the SSE. You also know your home territory, your neighborhood. So, if you look at your environment, you may well be able to identify a space where you might set up a small social project. The Indaba Network can help you and guide you to be successful at implementing this economic project at the service of another ‘piece’ of broader development: the development that will change the system and that can save the world from the current economic crisis.
For more information, we invite you to look at ECONOMY AND SOCIAL SOLIDARITY on our Web site: http://indabanetworkfr.wordpress.com/champs-daction/economie-sociale/
According to the latest estimates from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the global CO2 concentrations were 391.55 ppm (parts per million) in March 2011, this corresponds to an increase of almost 40% from the beginning of the industrial revolution (about 280 ppm in 1750). For comparison, it took more than 5000 years for the CO2 concentration increases of only 80 ppm at the end of last ice age … (IPCC, 2007).
Lack of political will
The UN conference on climate change, bringing together representatives from 194 countries in Durban, South Africa, to decide the future of planet Earth, has just ended and yet its debates had few echoes in the media around the world.
The political will of major countries like the United States and China was so weak that the Durham conference was close to a complete failure: it had to be prolonged an extra thirty-six hours, including two sleepless nights of work, for the 194 countries gathered in South Africa to achieve a common road map to fight against global warming.
For the first time, all the major emitters of greenhouse gases agreed to be part of a global agreement to reduce their emissions, but the specifics of the agreement remain to be codified, by 2015 at the latest, to take effect in 2020 only. So much time lost! Is there still a chance to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in time? Scientists are doubtful.
The poorest people are the victims
What will happen then? The countries of the South, and the 325 million of the world’s poorest people who live there, are already the most affected by climate change. Hurricanes, cyclones, floods, torrential rains, droughts, decreased drinking water resources, exacerbated desertification, resurgence of infectious diseases, rising sea levels … are threatening many countries and billions of men and women. It is estimated that between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people by 2080 will suffer from water shortages while hunger will haunt between 200 and 600 million. The EU High Representative Javier Solana, already in 2008, wanted to prepare Europe for climate refugees and migration pressure that the continent will face.
The powerful are locked in their selfishness
Here, amid the present financial and economic crisis, very powerful lobbies act upon governments to prevent the adoption of any binding global regulations. The legal framework of the commitments made in Durban still has to be clarified. The text of the agreement opens the door to all interpretations, from the most stringent to the most lax. The latter is a loophole into which several countries will be tempted to rush, forgetting that the climate emergency requires everyone to transcend their own immediate interests.
Confronted with the problem of climate change, most governments are weak, subject to the influence of lobbies, unable to see beyond the next election. Or, they are downright cynical as in the case of the Canadian government which confirmed, on Monday, December 12, its immediate withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in December 2012. The Canadian Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, justified the decision by the fact that Canada – which does not meet the target of 6% emissions reductions made under the Protocol for the period 2008-2012 – runs the risk of having to pay penalties of $14 billion (10.6 billion euros) if it remains a signatory. A country cannot show greater inconsistency… How are Canadian citizens reacting?
We need actions that come from the field
“We need actions that come from the field” – believes Stéphane Hallegatte, climatologist and economist at the International Agency for Research on Environment and Development (CIRED) and a lead author of the forthcoming report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – “Because besides the disappointing results of the negotiation, there is a lot going on locally, even in countries like the United States and China.”
The action of environmental protection associations, youth groups, and civic groups will be crucial to bring about a global awareness and pressure governments to take the necessary decisions. Everywhere around the world, civil society, driven by new generations, must speak and act.
“Here we are, tiny humans, on the tiny film of life surrounding the tiny planet lost within a huge universe. This planet is also a burgeoning world, ours. At the time where societies scattered around the globe have become interdependent, the awareness of the community of earthly destiny must be the key event of the end of the millennium. We stand in solidarity with and in this planet. It’s our Earth-Homeland.” [Edgar Morin, Earth Nation. 1996]