Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Lima COP as Patchwork Quilt
widely considered an abject failure I posted about a “tiny advent star,” the most modest of hopes. Today, as I sat down to draft my response to COP 20 in Lima, I read what a friend had written about the nature of working on the daunting issue of climate politics. In response to another woman's concerns for the right strategy and the most effective action, she said, “Just stick to your square in the quilt,” not knowing what the final patchwork might be. We arrive at the task of our particular square through a process of following our leadings, and paying careful attention to signs, both inner and outer, that confirm or disconfirm our path. Like the evolutionary process itself, we self-correct as we go, using the feedback process from the entire context of our work
Still missing is a commitment from the fourth largest emitter, India, which is still playing catch-up in economic development (and I can tell you from experience that it has the world's most inefficient electrical grid). Hopefully that will change by the end of March, which is when nations have agreed to present their “ante,” the initial reduction promises. Narendra Modi, the wildly popular new PM, besides being a business booster, had a something of a reputation as a green chief minister of Gujarat. We shall see.
The clerk of Quaker Earthcare Witness, my friend Roy, responded later in the day to the quilt square analogy, pointing out that the frame and backing for the global carbon reduction quilt is provided by the community. It is the group that stitches the backing and the borders of the quilt. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of squares lying around. This is the context provided by the UNFCCC process, and the whole idea of international cooperation. Many green activists, despairing over the slow progress made thusfar, have given up on the frame and backing, retiring to their own piece of the quilt. That's okay, because the whole process goes forward regardless of our individual postions. But I want to affirm the international process, flawed as it is, because it provides the frame and backing for this emergent quilt.
there's so much about international top-downish strategizing that rubs me the wrong way, but you've managed to open my mind a crack at least :-)
the quilt metaphor helps me a lot; I've been sitting with it all week in the QEW discussion, and now you've revisited it in a specific way that works for me.
my stomach still clenches when I hear optimism based in "the joint announcement by US and Chinese leaders to reduce (US) and cap (China) carbon emissions a few weeks prior to the Lima conference" -- a decreasing rate of growth is still an increase -- but I at least feel like I'm starting to get an inkling how environmentalist Friends look at such an announcement.
Your specificity about what's been done and what's planned helps a lot - thanks for explaining so well -- but what fed me most was your discussion of at least 4 different ways to think about the frame and backing of the quilt: the community, the UNFCCC process, "the whole idea of international cooperation," and (WOW - WONDERFUL) "the Mystery which underlies the process, the ultimate frame and backing for our effort[s]."
I so often feel out of step with environmentalist activists -- you've opened a door for me, and I'm so very happy to at least peek inside.
I appreciate the care with which you hold all of this. You are a blessing to the earth community, Susan.
"Are you the person who in the past on this blog has prodded me with excellent scriptural references?"
probably so - I've read your blog off and on for a long time, I know I've posted in the past at least a few times, and I do tend to tune in to biblical underpinnings and "echoes" :-)
"I appreciate the care with which you hold all of this. You are a blessing to the earth community"
thank you SO much Bob - I often feel like I come across as a curmudgeon, a cranky nay-sayer...
Your ministry through this blog has helped me SO much, and QEW is quickly becoming a beloved community for me.
I love that term - "doomer" :-)
I suppose part of my problem is that the sum of all the outward plans and solutions to earthcare issues don't look to me like they add up to (or even synergize to) an actual SOLUTION. Which doesn't mean we shouldn't do at least the proposals whose net unintended consequences look to be positive.
I experience all problems as ultimately spiritual problems, and believe that any true solutions will also be spiritual...
Blessings to you, brother, and thank you for your patience!
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