Opinion: From Lima, a Munich moment — Chris Wood

Protesters filled Lima streets in the Climate March on December 10. Photo by (Enrique Cuneo/AP Images for AVAAZ, © Avaaz.org
Protesters filled Lima streets in the Climate March on December 10. Photo by Enrique Cuneo/AP Images for AVAAZ, © Avaaz.org

By Chris Wood, NATURAL SECURITY opinion columnist   

There’s no pleasure in saying, ‘I told you so,” over the Lima climate conference. Unhappily, I did. International delegates meeting in the Peruvian capital reached a beyond-last-minute ‘agreement’ on reducing climate-disruptive greenhouse emissions by, in essence, kicking all the hard goals down the road and leaving the maximum possible room for fudging the numbers later.

Class warriors for the North’s wealthy have already dismissed the failure to reach a deal to secure the climate as inconsequential (because, you know, the science isn’t ‘settled’), and blamed it on the poor (and, by implication in their Randian world-view, undeserving) countries’ underhanded desire to transfer their patrons’ assets to the South.

There is enough of a grain of truth to this charge to sell it holus bolus to those inclined to believe it anyway. The poor countries of the world do want the financial help of the rich to deal with the ravages being wreaked on their populations and economies by a destabilizing climate.

What the yawping apologists for plutocracy overlook, of course, is that much of the North’s wealth has come at the cost of depredation in the global South (I give you the Canadian mining industry abroad as Exhibit A), and that virtually all of the instability, volatility and rising violence of the climate, is down to our fossil fuel addiction.

But never mind. Lincoln was only partly right; Goering—in this—was closer to the mark. You only need to be able to fool enough of the people, and the right ones, long enough, to bring them “to the bidding of the leaders” And that, the Nazi Reichsmarschell added, “is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked.”

This will wind up the same way for the ecologically over-leveraged human race as Goering’s politics did for Germany: with cities in ruins and ragged survivors haunting the countryside for food.

Probably this will not be the end of the human story. It is evident, if hardly equitable, that some places are more resilient than others against the collapse of natural security. Resistances are forming. But we have passed a Munich moment.

Copyright Chris Wood 2014

Further reading:

Lima Accord announced on climate, F&O Frontlines update

Chris Wood’s NATURAL SECURITY column


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