Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Copenhagen

However stoppingly, however stumblingly, however self-
servingly, however grudgingly, however hypocritcally,
however dragged-into-this-kicking-and-screamingly,
with what bad grace and with many a we’re-not-to-blame
and we-can’t-possibly, bickering and bridling to the last,
the nations of the world are somehow cobbling together
a collective response to the greatest and most urgent
issue faced by all the inhabitants, human or otherwise, of
Planet Earth—a response that, grossly inadequate as it will
inevitably be, is nonetheless the optimum at this moment
in time, given the state of humanity and the predominant
attitude held towards the planet’s ecology. What comes
out of Copenhagen won’t be as good as it ever gets: it will
be just as good, no more, no less, than can be got by 192
nations represented in one place addressing one central
topic in December 2009. There may be times when,
looking around, and considering the historical record, we
reach the conclusion that humankind is not fit to manage
a planet of its own, but right now let us marvel—a little,
anyway—that first Kyoto and now Copenhagen happened
at all. Should a global-sized volcanic eruption instantly
fossilize everything on Earth exactly as it is now, as
Vesuvius did Pompeii, archaeologists 10,000 years hence
might just possibly conclude from the evidence that, yes,
the people of the early 21st century did have a glimmering
awareness of what needed to be done in their own best
interests.

Meanwhile, on another planet, this morning’s Dominion
Post trumpets the headline THE ROAD STARS HAVE
ALIGNED
by way of reporting the Government’s decision
to spend at least $2.4 billion over the next few years on
building more and bigger roads for cars and trucks to
drive on in the Wellington area. As the headline indicates,
and the paper's own editorial confirms, the decision is
treated as a giant plus for the Wellington region. It’s a
‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain a world-class road
network,’ tootles the DomPost, in no doubt that such a
thing is desirable in all respects. More traffic, of course,
means more burning of fossil fuels, but nowhere in the
coverage is there a hint of the consequences of that; the
unspoken idea seems to be that that’s not something we in
our time need to worry about, we should just go on doing
more of what we do now, only bigger and faster, and
somehow human ingenuity will sort things out further
down the track. Yeah right. I don’t think 192 nations would
be meeting in Copenhagen right now if humans had had
the wit to address what they were doing to the planet a lot
earlier than this. The impoverishment of the ecological
imagination in this respect is staggering. We know that’s
the way the Government thinks, or doesn’t think, but the
daily newspaper of a city that has a greater green
consciousness probably than any other in the country
might be expected to reflect that consciousness at least to
some degree, rather than go all starry-eyed about ‘Four
new sections of SH1! Two new Wellington tunnels! Fast-
track for projects!’ and so on.

And all this while Copenhagen is going on. As if—actually—
Copenhagen wasn’t going on at all. Absolutely no
connection is made between the crisis of global warming
and the spending of billions of dollars on new roads and
vehicle tunnels for Wellington. One wonders why the
Dominion Post
didn’t just go straight to the point and put
the banner headline across the page: FUCK COPENHAGEN.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

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David said...

Love your ending Denis.

Mary McCallum said...

Thought-provoking as always - and beautifully said. I do enjoy your blog, Denis. Keep on blogging and Merry Christmas.