The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change and its successor, now being forged in the mills of pan-national policymaking is, naturally, beside the point. The focus is far too narrow. Once again, the powers that rule this earth are thinking like doctors. They look at the symptoms and then devise a cure for them. The disease mutates, and there we are back to square one.
The problem is much wider than is being envisaged.
What we need to do, as a species, is look at our behaviour in its totality. We have behaved, since the beginning of recorded time, like squirrels. We buried possessions with our ancient leaders, that they might be rich in the afterlife. We hoarded possessions on a personal, local, national and global level. And, now that possessions are easy to get - in the western world anyway - we are accumulating experiences with trips to the most inaccessible parts of the world and beyond. The first thing we have to do, to protect the globe we live on, is to stop accumulating stuff.
It was Pascal who said words to the effect that Man's unhappiness stems from his being unable to stay quietly in a room by himself. This has never been more true. The idea of an inner life is now drowned in the living of an external, public life. For modern Man, appearance is everything. We live to strut our five minutes in the public gaze. Where once the educated, reflective mind of a Pascal, or an Aristotle was the height of human intellectual effort, now we worship at the shrine of the Spice Girls, newly reformed to milk another few million dollars from the unthinking masses.
Football is the new religion, the players the new Gods. We will spend an entire evening discussing the outcome of the latest match in such-and-such a league, but we will not consider as seriously the future welfare of even our own children.
We ourselves have been made into children; undiscerning consumers of meaningless commodities. Until we realise this, Kyoto can only tinker at the edges. Only when people see themselves as involved in the creation and guardianship of their future, can we hope to change it.
For the moment, we are only playing doctors and nurses.
The Industrial Revolution continues. It’s just that manufacturing has moved east, out of our sight, out of our mind.
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