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Global Warming and the Potluck Dinner



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Saldamando continued, "Case in point, the United States' climate change plan includes 250 million megatons to be absorbed by oceans and forest offset markets. Essentially, those responsible for the climate crisis not only get to buy their way out of compliance but they also get to profit from it as well."

In other words, the Paris accord is in part a carbon-trading agreement, which does things like allow PE&G, a huge power company in California, to buy its way out of 80 percent of its responsibility without actually cutting its emissions. They get to keep them going, profiting from their pollution. Someone else has to make the cuts. Those are the carbon-trading points Friedman references.

For what it's worth, I cast the astrological chart for the adoption of the motion that sealed the deal, and the chart basically says that the business of the world is business. When Saldamando later called it a trade agreement, I had even better words to describe the chart.

Saldamando said that if we utterly stopped burning carbon for fuel right now, the world might come in under the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming goal that the Paris agreement purports to endorse and even facilitate. 

Without agonizing over this too much, it means that we're on our own. Big daddy ain't gonna make himself behave or stay sober. We'll never change his mind about saving the planet. We might get governments to do a little, or to block good things a little less, but their reins are really in the hands of corporations. It is these massive conglomerates, or trusts, that we must go after. By we I mean us.

If you read somewhere that a bunch of people in Sweden organized the whole country to divest from petrochemicals, you would think, how smart of them. Scandinavia, they are so evolved and civilized. 

If I said we can do that in the United States, you might say we're just too big a collection of douche bags to get anything of the kind accomplished. We'll all just disagree for the unmitigated joy of vapid controversy—while the ice caps melt and the oceans gradually turn to acid. Seawater is supposed to be alkaline. When it becomes acidic (from all the carbon dioxide that it's absorbing on our behalf), it's habitable mostly to slime. Nothing against slime, by the way—maybe it will spawn a new evolutionary line of superbeings immune to toxicity. This could come in handy in the future.

Yes, Americans long ago decided we're just too stupid and self-centered to give a toss about something as ridiculous as our planet. But doesn't that really, really annoy you sometimes? Like watching the guy who's squirting charcoal starter on an already-lit barbecue. You're thinking, he doesn't know that the reason you're not supposed to do that is because the fire can jump up the stream and make the can explode. Or maybe he does know. And you're wondering whether it will happen this time, secretly thinking it sure would be interesting if it did.

Welcome to global warming. So, we are on our own. Those of us who, you know, get it. Even a little. 

Recently, a friend wrote to me on the topic of climate and said that "we can't all be activists on the ground."

I wrote back, "Much of the activism we need to do is, like, spend money in the right places. It's economic activism, which would be spurred by information activism (i.e., reporting, analysis, story telling, etc.). Shifting money to the better parts of the economy is a real thing. Divestment toppled Apartheid."

She wasn't born at the time, so she can't quite know the thrill of realizing in real time that the town board of Turtle Turd, New Mexico, voting to remove its investments from businesses working with South Africa actually helped win the issue. Seemingly intractable white-superior culture there just collapsed from economic starvation. Then Nelson Mandela not only got out of jail, he became president.

I continued to my friend, "So, ultimately, the issue really is spiritual in that it involves awareness, relationship to existence and putting one's money where one's ethics are. That and conserving, simplifying. No part of this is about marching in the streets. More like my solution to everything, the potluck dinner."

She replied: "The potluck dinner is a solid solution. That is why our connection to each other matters. When we break bread with each other, by itself that is magic in that it is humanizing. People who see the humans in the community they share meals with are more likely to apply that framework of perception to communities outside their immediate ones."

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