Monday, December 21, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Combatting Global Warming

These thoughts are deep only in the sense that I'm digging deep into the layers of the onion that has created the problem, going to almost the very middle, right outside the heart which is about fear and mineminemine! The next layer just beyond that, the one that causes all the problems we see now, has to do with the way most countries elect their political leaders. It also applies to any dictators who force themselves into power.

Those people are there to compete, to fight other people for a bigger piece of the cake. They are NOT there to grow the cake and they are NOT there because they are so eminently suited for cooperating with others on the global level.

I believe that it is essentially impossible for something like the Copenhagen talks to bring real results because every person there was trying to see how others could be forced to do something and not that person's constituency and the central question was always "what is in it for me?" Politicians are not rewarded for saving the earth. They are rewarded for saving their own country's employment or military powers and so on. And that is the fault of the system we use to bring people into power and the incentives we give them. Just cast your mind back to the recent presidential elections in this country: We all cheered when our guy seemed to be kicking butt. Butt-kicking global warming does not work.

Imagine someone like Ben Nelson making laws about global warming. He'd want special climate protection just for Nebraska! That's pretty much what he got as payment for letting the one-legged HCR limp on. But a person who thinks like that will NEVER combat global warming, never.

Then look at the way the U.S. lobbyist system works. Mother Nature does not have a lobbyist and neither do the citizens of this earth in general.

I can hear some of you mutter that all this is human nature, and it is. But if this is all there is to human nature we, my friend, are going to be fried fish. Or someone will be. Because nothing won't be done about global warming until a large number of people dies suddenly, dramatically and clearly in a way linked to climate change. Then we get a lot of yelling and blaming and some last-minute attempts which probably will not work.

Luckily, I don't believe that human nature is quite that short-sighted. Cooperation exists everywhere in our societies, for example. But we do need to change the incentives and the structure which brings people to power, at least in certain parts of the system. We need to select stateswomen and statesmen, not politicians. There are ways to do that if it is taken seriously.