There is so much complexity in the politics of climate change right now, but as the Copenhagen climate negotiations heat up, I think there are a few simple childhood lessons to review or keep in mind.
Of course, action to stop climate change is not only about the politicians and international treaties. It is also largely about the individual actions, needs and demands of each person these politicians represent.
So, given that you are not likely to be directly involved in the discussions in Copenhagen, these are also for you on an individual level, in all of your individual decisions and purchases. Of course, you can send messages to your politicians asking them to stop climate change, too!
1) Share — we are taught as children that we need to share. As rich countries and poor countries sit together at the tables in Copenhagen, rich countries should keep this inherent life lesson in their minds and use it to make their decisions. If we are going to prevent global climate change, we need to share with poor countries in order for them to develop sustainably and use cutting edge technology. On an individual level, you can also consider donating $20 to a rainforest fund or other worthy cause rather than going to see a film in the theater or buying another shirt or pair of jeans once in awhile. Make the trade.
2) Don’t Be Greedy — again, we have to realize, at some level, that we have more than we need. We, people of the 21st century in developed countries, have FAR more than we need, yet we continue to assume that we need more. Politicians in Copenhagen, and you at home, may need to focus more on finding contentment with less, rather than assuming that individual countries can consume more resources than the world can create — no technology solution is going to solve the problems of greed.
3) Be Kind to Others — as a child, don’t hit, don’t bite, don’t call each other names. As politicians and adults, stop killing (livestock production may cause 51% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide), don’t fight over energy and fuel resources (i.e. develop energy independence rather than fighting wars in the Middle East), and don’t call each other names (this one stays the same). On the individual level, if you don’t use and demand animal products, livestock emissions WILL shrink (and not eating meat is good for you). If you put solar panels on your house, or bike or use transit instead of driving, you automatically help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — no international treaty is needed for that.
4) Think About the Future — if a child does not want to go to school, it has to understand and a parent may have to explain to her or him that it is for their best interest in the long-run that they go to school. Politically, and individually, we have to realize now that we may have to make some “sacrifices” in the present in order to have a bright and healthy and safe life in the future. We need to do things we may not be inclined to do economically (although many of these things are actually good for the economy) — we need to cut the fossil fuels habit. We need to do things we might never have considered — we need to cut the meat habit. And we need to change our attitude as much as anything — we need to live more positive lives.
They may be simple childhood lessons, but they go a long way, and there is a reason parents around the world have to teach their children these things.
In a similar manner, around the world, we need to start living these teachings in our adult lives more in order to protect our world from climate change catastrophe.
Politicians need to remember these points at their discussions about climate change; we need to remind them about these lessons; and we need to incorporate them into our lives as well.
Related Stories on GO Media:
1) What is a Global Citizen? Are You One?
2) Five Indicators of Success at Copenhagen
3) 10 Sustainable Lifestyle Tips: #1-5
4) Green Economy = More Jobs
5) Personal Happiness and the Environment: A Sustainability Connection
6) Personal Happiness and Equity: A Sustainability Link
Image Credit 1: Kuzeytac via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 2: e³°°° via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 3: alicepopkorn via flickr under a Creative Commons license