Friday, 10 June 2011

Hope and Reality

Last week, World Environment Day came and went with hardly a murmur in the world press. The next day, Monday 6th June, delegates gathered in Bonn for the UN Climate Change Conference. Again, it hardly earned a mention; the world is pre-occupied with a whole range of problems ranging from Libya and Syria to the troubles of the Euro zone.

In the Middle East, long established dictators have reached beyond the ‘normal’ tools of repression to treat their own population with almost unimaginable cruelty. There is no going back for the old guard; if they lose control they will surely suffer retribution. They have no choice but to ratchet up the violence until even their own inner circle decide enough is enough. There is hope that turmoil in the Middle East will lead to an Arab Spring as democracy and respect for human rights sweep through the region. Hope and reality are not the same.

In the Euro zone, the levels of sovereign debt racked up by the Southern European members of the Euro zone are so great that default (referred to by the softer term ‘restructuring’) is inevitable. The Euro zone is desperately talking up the prospects that its members will muddle through somehow. These hopes give a warm feeling that the problems are solvable, but this denial of reality is not helpful to finding real solutions. Real solutions require clear vision and tough choices. Hope and reality are not the same.

The climate meeting in Bonn is subject to the same collective delusion that permeates world affairs. It is hoped that through the copious quantities of documents and years of talks that solutions can be found to bring climate change under control, without making substantive changes to the way we live and the way the world economy operates. It is hoped that that a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol (which runs out in 2012) will tie the world into a plan that will prevent dangerous climate change. Hope and reality are not the same.

Real solutions require clear vision and tough choices. World leaders must take off their blinkers and get to grips with the real choices about the future of world society and the planet.

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