Acidification of our wet home – 2min intro+rant

The COP16 conference is taking place in Cancun between 29th November and 10th December 2010. While there is some pessimism about the effectiveness and capacity of global meetings of major players to make real commitment (read: to avoid realpolitik) following Copenhagen last year, there are ongoing efforts to recognise the significance of the data, move away from carbon-based energy forms to sustainable ones, reduce emissions, and avoid life-shortening myopias. A major area of concern is the escalating acidification of the world’s oceans.

I own up, being disenfranchised with the current story which expects status-quo-seeking governments and organisations to act against their interests. Waiting for their action limits my creativity, natural expression and inclination to self-correct. It makes Paul Hawken’s  Blessed Unrest idea (see below) worth considering, if only to recognise that the pessimism noted above it is an ‘easy’ pessimism.

This pessimism is also a narrow lens, one easily capturing my energy while quelling optimism. More, it ripens me, makes me available for another kind of consumerism – where I look to confirm my prejudices about an inevitable demise of life on the planet and ties me into a kind of conflict, declaiming against the owners of the means of production, hegemonic dualisms, ‘other’-diminishing frames – well-summarised by the late Val Plumwood‘s “standpoint of mastery”.

Useful (even key) learnings as these are,  I lose contact the essential humanity of those in my world when I categorise ‘culprits’, and put together a new and ‘legitimate enemy-set’ premised on fundamental oppositions.  I can re-member myself in nature, avoid people, but I am fundamentally a social animal – and the natural world only reminds me again of our inter-connection.

Hawken, a social activist and author (yes, and selling a book too), is much interested in the impact of commerce on living systems. He spent over a decade researching organisations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. From billion-dollar non-profits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise the largest movement on earth, a movement that has no name, leader, or location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media.

The BU idea recognises roots of this natural inclination in indigenous culture, social justice movements, and the environment. These are inter-twining and morphing into current forms which no-one can fully appreciate or yet understand. My brittle understandings struggle to see the whole, and something in me bounces up when I let go my easy pessimism.