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Atonement and Climate Change – Speed Is Of The Essence

‘Those resisting responsibility will hear blame’ writes one of the respondents to my last post. They may, but whether they hear it or not, blame does not take us any further down the road to atonement in regard to climate change, and it is atonement that is most needed. By atonement, I mean re-setting the compass, in remembering correctly, accepting responsibility, being willing to be held accountable, and not piling on the consequences of history, (the current climate emergency having been set off in the middle of the 19th century) onto the nearest blame-worthy culprit, until the most serious offenders grovel in the dust they have created while everyone else feels exonerated and thereby freed from any responsibilities of their own.

Nothing concrete is going to take place in regard to cooling the planet without atonement. By atonement I do not mean payback, although it will certainly involve money. I mean the kind of reconciliation which inspires and gives confidence, which re-builds trust between peoples and nations. Without it, there is no hope for any of us in regard to climate change. So when it comes to climate, and the question of blame, why don’t we agree to re-frame the whole discussion (my respondent talks about blame as a way of framing) along these lines?

            If all parties can be brave enough to remove blame from the equation of what needs to be done, when, and by whom, we have a situation re-set which might just enable a more equable and thereby just resolution to the problem of how to prevent humanity from destroying itself.

For one thing, nations who have been blamed (rightly, perhaps) for being the primary cause of the problems we face need not fear further humiliation, as long as, given this new freedom from fear, they immediately set in motion policies that amount to genuinely constructive and disinterested action and are held accountable on a regular basis for the implementation of these policies, perhaps with incremental fines to be payed to the poorer countries most affected by their inaction. Leaders, if there are any who are not already in hock to fossil fuel related industries (including the manufacture of plastics) might now be given the courage they need to stop being the puppets of big business in this particular chapter in human history. They could look to the mega wealthy to take responsibility for paying a proportionally large share of the fines while the rest of us do everything we can to re-set our life styles. This is not blame shifting. It is the work of atonement.

            None of this is new, of course, and none of it will be done quickly or easily but sometimes, when a disagreement hits the buffers, there needs to be a different way of having it, because speed is of the essence. The alternative, as we are already seeing in the mass migrations taking place from areas most affected by climate change, is climate war, leading inexorably to all out global conflict.

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