Having read, watched, and listened to coverage of COP21, I have to say I am utterly disappointed. Not only were no binding agreements made, what was agreed upon will not effectively address the issues facing the world. Per the COP21 website:
In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
It failed. There are aims, but nothing binding. There is plenty of signed paper, but no promises. There are plenty of goals, but no ambition to see them through. Further, it gutted a lot of the binding agreements by placing things like this in the preamble.
KANDI MOSSETT: Right. So, there’s an article. When there’s language in the article, that’s legally binding language. And what they’ve actually done is taking out reference to indigenous peoples’ rights from the article and putting it only into the preamble, which is not legally binding. The same for human rights, the same for food sovereignty. There’s just different things that have happened in the text that—intergenerational equity is also in the preamble, so a lot of the youth are very upset as to what’s happening. And I think it’s kind of a shame that we’ve—actually, at the 21st COP, more than a shame, it’s a crime that we’ve taken a step backwards by taking out the rights of indigenous peoples.
It is incredibly easy to look at this failure of leadership and the impending impacts of peak oil and climate change, to read JMG’s latest piece summarizing what is facing us, and simply fall into despair. I am going to encourage anyone reading this not to do that.
Go to the Gods. Go to the Ancestors. Go to the vaettir. Ask Them for help to do something to address this. Go do magic. Work magic to address this. Go learn and study. Put your hands to whatever you are able to do. Organize where you can. Do what is within your power to do. Do something with those emotions. Do not let them sit idle. Use them as fuel.
Grow what you can where you can. Preserve knowledge wherever you can. Distribute knowledge where you can. Learn a skill or learn a trade if you can. Every single bit helps.
The idea that we will not be able to get out of the Long Descent without casualties has come up a couple of times in the comments in this series of posts. In every documentary on Youtube I have watched, the idea population decline will, at some point, come up. It seems expected that we will somehow be able to keep on preserving our ways of life that allow us in America to use 25% of the world’s resources when we are 5% of the overall population of the Earth. It seems expected that we can just ‘run things on renewables’ when it comes to Q&As at the end of a good many of these lectures, some desperate variation on the bargaining aspect of the 5 Stages of Grief. When we haven’t invested shit into our infrastructure, into renewables, or into any other way of life but the ones folks are living right now.
People are going to die because of climate change and peak oil, and there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. Whether because of the hubris and neglect of corporations, the incredibly tight controls or severe lack in industry standards with the government, laziness or panic or inaction on the part of the average citizens, our opportunity to stem the tide of these things passed us by well before Morning in America was the rallying cry of the Reagan administration. Carter tried to be straightforward and honest with the American people on these matters, and he was a one-term president, mocked and roundly criticized for his stances. No one has tried this and won since. We are now faced with a world which will see us in the Long Descent as John Michael Greer calls it, the Bumpy Plateau as Richard Heinberg calls it, or the Collapse, as Chris Martenson and Jared Diamond call it. The end of cheap, abundant fossil fuel is coming, climate change is occurring, and yet we still can affect change on the local level.
I ran across this idea from Michael Ruppert across several of his lectures:
Let us say that there were people on the Titanic who knew that an iceberg was going to hit it, and the Titanic would sink. These people know there are not enough lifeboats, but that there is time enough to make some in preparation for the disaster that is coming. There are three kinds of reactions to these people. The first are those who say “Oh you’re just a doom-sayer. I’m going to go back to the bar for a drink.” The second are those who panic, wide-eyed and run around crying out “What do I do? What do I do?” but do not address the problem. Then there are third, who say “Let’s get to work on building some lifeboats” and get started working on it. As with Ruppert, I suggest we work with other lifeboat builders and not waste our time with the first two groups of people.
This means ceasing to fight with those that think global warming is a fraud. This means not arguing with those who adamantly do not accept the reality of peak oil. This means ceasing to waste time on folks who want to talk, but not do.
This means getting proactive wherever you can in your life and community to address peak oil and climate change. This means doing whatever research, reskilling, growing, learning, accumulating of resources, and making community ties now wherever you are able as you are able. This means reorienting your life in whatever ways that you can so the Long Descent is easier to deal with.
This means that there are people out there for whom it is not worth your time to try to save. Not that they are intrinsically better or worse than you. It means that these people will be an impediment to you doing things to actively work in ways that will better you, your family, and/or your community. On a practical level, the people not willing to build lifeboats with you are simply not worth your time to try to save. You can love your family, your friends, your neighbors, and they all can be impediments or allies in the way of where you need to go, and what you need to do, to ensure you, yours, and future generations are able to survive. These are not easy things to think about, and I appreciate that, but if you have put off thinking about them, now is the time.
What I am not saying is “you should not worry about the non-lifeboat builders” or “you should be totally okay with this”. I have folks in my family who want to pretend that everything will be fine, or technology will find a way. You know what? I don’t stop loving them. I don’t stop wanting them to end their addiction to oil, to join a community effort, even if it isn’t mine, to address peak oil and climate change. I don’t stop wanting them to change their mind, but I also realize that, after a certain point, all I am doing is wasting our collective time by trying to get them on board.
Hell, in talking with my grandparents on my mother’s side, both realize just how hard of a time ahead we have. All I can do at this point is ask as many questions as I can of them for how they got through the hard times in their lives. To ask them how their parents got through the Depression and how they got through the Oil Shocks. I pray that I get as many old tools and machines that my grandpa collected from garage, estate, and auction sales, as I can. It’s my hope to put these still-functioning tools to work again.
I cannot offer hope or comfort, outside of “We have time to prepare” and “Better ways of living with the world are possible, and within our ability to do.” With the coming Long Descent coming, I find comfort in the words of Arundhati Roy:
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
The work of addressing peak oil and climate change is working to hear these messages, and put them in to action. We have work to do, and each will need to decide in what ways their energy and time are best used. I pray that your efforts succeed. I pray they pave the way for others to succeed, for all of us to survive, and thrive.