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Let’s jerk off to climate change

If you haven’t blogged, made a poster, built a sand castle or ran naked through the streets screaming “the climate changers are coming”, then you’re quite a tough cookie aren’t you? If you haven’t switched off the lights and sat in the dark or considered organic eggs or experimented with recycled bath water in your kettle, or done something environmentally friendly in the past year, chances are you’re really just a selfish urbanised bastard who ought to be exterminated.

Climate change has been the most visible subject since Peter de Villiers’ winky made international headlines.

So if you still think that climate change is a hoax, designed and marketed by the scorn of a betrayed woman sitting on an island called Al-Gore, I doubt this is the time to publicly express your reservation.

You will be lynched.

Of course even if you are remotely correct that current concerns are exaggerated, it would be disingenuous, if not retarded of you to defend our current industrialisation and rampant processing of the earth’s resources as anything but harmful to the mother-ship.

The consequences are more than quivering numbers on a chart.

You really needn’t look further than parts of Southern Africa and East Africa where shifts in the climate has left in its wake disastrous consequences for farmers and their communities in those regions. With a dearth of man-made irrigation, drought effectively means you die, or at least you watch your cows die. Mozambique, Malawi, even parts of northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape are currently experiencing severe droughts. In Ethiopia, Oxfam issued a warning that if food aid of about $115 million didn’t fall from the sky, some six million Ethiopians are going to starve.

Of course, if we had known in advance, we could have transferred the $350 million used for the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban to feed them a three-course meal.

We didn’t know but we could still have a moment’s silence during 2010.

Ethiopians, like other Africans are used to starving much like Bangladeshis are used to drowning, and well, they will have to get over it.

But what about the rest of the world who aren’t used to starving? What will they do?

The UN says that about 20 million people were displaced in 2008 as a result of climate change; more than war-induced displacement.

If anything, climate change can be rather inconvenient.

In fact, things are so bad, it is reported that some of the world’s greatest river basins in South Asia are intensely threatened by over-exploitation and climatic change. If the rivers decide to stop flowing or morph into a shopping mall, some 750 million livelihoods will dry up. Indian farmers have already been resorting to suicide or selling their daughters for between $40 to $100 (depending on her accent) in a bid to survive. I personally think renting out the kid would be more lucrative, but hey, I am no pimp.

South Asians have been procreating like bunnies, burdening the eco-system like selfish ravens for years and they might deserve to drink their own sewerage as fresh water dries up, but, let’s not be callous, even Robert Mugabe deserves a trial before we hang him.

At this juncture, we are so inundated with climate-change talk you could swear we were actually shedding our ego, altering our behaviour and looking nature’s appointed bush-whacking locusts in the eye as they prepare to teach us earthlings a good lesson for banging up earth.

You’d think we would realise our method of industrialisation needed to be curbed immediately if we want our great grandchildren to visit Kruger National Park and not be visited on an island by a shoal of great whites taking the family to see “the last of the morons”.

But our action continues to be just paint on a glazed brick wall.

Twelve years ago, over 160 countries signed an agreement to reduce carbon emissions, which became known as the Kyoto Protocol. It was called the Kyoto Protocol because it was held in Kyoto, Japan and not because the UN wanted to brand climate change as a sci-fi flick starring Bruce Willis.

The fact that China did not attend the meeting (apparently a few thousand foetuses striking at the Nike factory distracted the Chinese government), and the United States did not sign the agreement, took the piss out of all the well-intentioned governments and their commitment to slow climate change, contain the earth’s temperature and save the world.

So here we are, all the way in 2009, with polar bears almost already roaming our gardens, and seals almost already claiming our neighbours’ swimming pools (note to neighbour: dude, please clean your pool) but the developed, industrialised governments (ie the biggest violators) still want to negotiate our future on their own terms.

No one knows what precisely will come out of the final sets of talks in Copenhagen in December 2009, but if you’re cynical that anything but a farcical sequel to the sci-fi flick Kyoto Protocol is on the way, you probably not far off the mark.

The Kyoto Protocol did not place binding restrictions on developing countries and despite the per-capita emissions being extraordinarily lower to the developed world, it is clear that the developed world are quite erroneous in their tacit opposition to the formation of an international binding treaty.

This is not cool.

China might have replaced the United States as the biggest violator producing 23% of the world’s greenhouse gases but the G8 together produces half the world’s output of greenhouse gases.

Africa produces just 5% and India is said to be producing also 5%, but its share is said to be rapidly increasing.

The fact is that the United States is unlikely to pass the necessary legislation in Congress by the time Copenhagen happens. This means it’s unlikely the US will be in a position “to pledge” sizeable reductions. China and India — at the crest of their industrialisation, have indicated participation and “notable” reductions to greenhouse emissions — are still unlikely to shed their inbuilt stubbornness without full participation from the developed world, especially the United States.

Developing and industrialising countries should be reducing any greenhouse emissions spurting out their cracked behinds. Moreover, there is absolutely no reason why poorer nations cannot advance a serious strategy of eco-friendly energy generation, consumption and practice.

Though every step counts, it is simply ludicrous for the developing world to take steps while the developed world and the United States in particular remain both reluctant and even willing to shirk their part of the responsibility.

The situation is so bizarre that even though England has the first legally binding goals towards reducing emissions, the goals are so low; experts contend that even if every country adopted the law, it wouldn’t change anything.

Once again, the common man must bear the brunt of yet another buzzkill.

We want the common farmer to stop tilling the fields to reduce carbon emissions, we want consumers to buy exorbitantly priced eco-friendly foods and we want porn addicts to save trees and indulge in digital porn instead.

But effective response to climate change has yet to become super politicised, so much so that it loses its political zeal and becomes a shared, universal concept; a political notion that is not up for debate.

As it stands, climate change is no different to the politics of the Middle East or our country’s policy of appeasement with Robert Mugabe, or the lack of effective action in Tibet, Burma, Kashmir, Sudan or Somalia.

As it stands, 1.2 million child prostitutes continue to service paedophiles in India despite there being enough legislation to suggest it was more than just an ice-cream outing.

Where there is no political will, causes remain feeble, whimsical blog posts.

Twitter is ablaze with debate, anecdotal evidence, comment, links to other green-web-machines urging the online world to shift and act towards extending the life of this earth.

But this farce is becoming rather jaded now.

The earth, like death, taxes and strip clubs are the only things real.

Unfortunately, climate change is just another piece in the puzzle of international relations, and not a separate dilemma.

And as such, without a binding international treaty which includes the participation of the United States and China and without consequences for non-participation, the millions of dollars spent on publicity, travel, rigorous debate and dancing girls sent all over the world to push people into action, amounts to nothing more than well, jerking off your hose.

Author

  • Azad Essa

    Azad Essa is a journalist at Al Jazeera. He is also the author of a book called "Zuma's Bastard" (Two Dogs Books, October 2010) Yes, it is the name of a book. A real book. With a kickass cover. Click on the cover to find out more. You know you want to. or join the revolution: www.facebook.com/zumasbastard http://www.azadessa.com/about Accidental Academic won best political blog at the South African Blog awards 2009 and is a finalist for 2010.