This election is the important one

In New Zealand, in the US, wherever: this election, the one coming up? This is the important one.

“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” – IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri in November 2007

We have three years to start making serious changes to how human life operates. These changes cannot be made at the individual level, or even at the local level. The needed changes must happen through governmental structures. Only governments have the ability to make these changes happen.
I do a lot of thinking about and talking about climate change and what the individual can do. I run a big programme in a university course on this subject, even. Driving less, consuming less, turning off your electronic devices at the wall, using the heater less, all of this is important. But right now, by far, the most important environmental action is political.
This was the message in Al Gore’s 20-minute followup to Inconvenient Truth, which debuted in March this year and you can watch it here, at the TED site. (Bonus: seeing him amend the Inconvenient Truth’s list of countries that ratified Kyoto to include Australia. The U.S. is now all alone in refusing.) This was a key message in the material supporting Annie Leonard’s great Story of Stuff short film resource on the consumption cycle. It’s been turning up everywhere. That’s no accident.
Let’s be clear: unless we, the citizens of our various democracies, forcefully put climate change on the agenda for the governments that will lead us through the next few years, then the entire mode of human life will be pushed into catastrophic change. This is, incredibly, not hyperbole. The stakes actually are that big.

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, CO2 must be reduced from its present 385 ppm (parts per million) to, at most, 350 ppm” – NASA climatologist James Hansen, April 2008

This can happen. It is entirely possible. But it is up to us.
This TomDispatch is a good overview of 350 movement. Remember that number, you’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the next year or two.

7 thoughts on “This election is the important one”

  1. Three years to make fundamental changes, at the governmental level.
    Evidence indicating that the release of methane hydrates deposits in the artic are increasing.
    Long predicted global economic crisis / restructuring now upon us.
    We’re doomed, aren’t we? If it’s not too late already, we know, we KNOW, that our governments can’t and won’t make the required changes within such a short time frame. Western liberal democracy does not work that way, has not worked that way in quite some time (if ever). Not matter how we cast our votes, no matter how loudly we shout, the systemic change won’t occur in a timely enough fashion.
    And it’s absolutely no comfort in knowing that all this, environmental, economic and political has long been predicted. Because the years went by and nothing changed to avoid the predictions coming true.

  2. Indeed, my crystal ball tells me that if the “before 2012” is totally correct, we’re doomed. Just in NZ, it would take not a Labour victory in the next election but the voting in of most of the Green Party in order to effect necessary change. That isn’t going to happen, and I don’t think it’s naysaying or pessimism to say so.

  3. Scott, Jamie – well, yeah. That is kind of indisputable. But my view is that there are degrees of doomedness. I’m hoping that if we start pushing, hard, then we can get only a little doom. The less doom the better, like.
    Also, current heuristics about how long things take will collapse as soon as doom seriously comes knocking. If we get a little doom with a long enough lead time before the big doom, we might turn this ship around in time.
    Fun, isn’t it?
    Also: remember what else happens in 2012:

  4. What else happens in 2012?
    Uh… the data from the United States census of 1940 will be released to the public?

  5. Shame that most people are going to vote according to whose hairstyle they prefer on the day.
    I thought that 2012 was when we all enter the supercontext and realise that the Earth is actually an egg we are hatching from; and that the so-called “environmental devastation” is just us consuming the nutrients before emerging into the larger universe.
    We’re fucked if that’s NOT the case.

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