Despite a chilling wind, Comox Valley residents enthusiastically joined with the more than 2500 other November 29 climate action rallies being held around the world to mark the opening of the Paris Summit dedicated to negotiating the next global climate deal.
If I could have had my way, we would have met in the Sid and—together—viewed the film–This Changes Everything— the Comox Valley Council of Canadians and World Community screened at North Island College last week. Actually it just might have spurred meaningful change if the film had been shown on streets throughout Paris and wherever world leaders met to talk about how all this talk of saving our world from climate change can be debauched into yet another reason to extol the power and worth of the very market forces that got us into–and ensure we don’t get out of– this climate change mess.
Don’t misunderstand me here, I am not saying that markets are always bad or inexorably destructive of existential human values like survival of our species and planet, markets can work wonders –I will explore some of these wonders in a future post– and I invite readers to share their own views on the good and bad of market forces—but I’ve just seen This Changes Everything, I know that slapping a token tax on carbon will not transform our oily, Earth destroying frenzy into effective action to turn down the thermostat on all those processes that are cooking our atmosphere.
The thing about This Changes Everything is that it begins by demonstrating that the problem isn’t a few oil wells any more than the problem with metastasized cancer is a dark splotch on the skin of the patient.
Just as the cancer patient must earnestly and immediately deal with the condition that is causing the black splotch—and a host of ailments—so climate changes tells us that adding a dollar a barrel climate tax to the cost of oil will no more cure our climate of its ails that than a tube of healthy skin cream will cure the cancer that has its tentacles running through the body of its victim.
We have to do things differently. We have to steer a different course. We have to begin again with different assumptions about what is valuable, about why we are here, about what is really precious to us, about what it means to share this beautiful earth with other people/peoples/species/with life generally, about what markets are for—who do they serve; how and why? This Changes Everything boldly asserts that we must turn away from the core assumptions of capitalism—that the Earth-and its living inhabitants– is here for us to use up/destroy in order to have the maximum number of “goods” for a wealthy few who can afford it. This Changes Everything is unequivocal, if we are to survive our greeds we must find within ourselves a new measure of value; we must realize that our relation to our Earth is more like the relation of a fetus to its mother’s womb than like a pack of wolves to a flock of sheep.
Sure, I know it is easy to assume that all this heart-felt stuff can seem ephemeral compared to the much studied mechanisms of market forces, but if we want to get to a different place, we have to drive in different direction. I will be posting more on the different direction but I invite readers to share their own vision of how we can actually arrive at a place where we are not consuming the very womb that is the foundation of our lives and—likely—life on this planet.