LEARNING BY DOING: an alternative to COPOUT
for Ana Perez
“The fossil fuel industry was more represented at COP26 the UN’s climate summit than any country.” So reads the headline at #Care2Alerts. Well yes, if the dog catchers outnumber all others, you can’t expect such a conference to lead to the Republic of Dogs. Not by a long snout.
Images of Glasgow courtesy of Carol Davies.
All of the people who really count, climate activists and all the indigenous people risking arrest on the front lines, all were excluded from COP26. To hear her tell it, activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney from western Canada’s Tia A’min Nation: “COP26 is a performance. It is an illusion constructed to save the capitalist economy rooted in resource extraction and colonialism.”
This week, overcome with hopelessness about the token too-little-too-late window dressing pretenses by the West and by the Global North to overcome their greed, and their seeming inability to recognize the planetary severity of the 2.4 degree of warming actually projected for the end of this century, I began to speculate what this planet might look like to aliens discovering it millions of years hence. What would they make of the Nasca Lines.
Since they were first discovered much controversy has ensued as to what their purposes may have been. Did they mark the routes of caravans? Are some of them oriented to mark the solstices? Do some of them represent constellations in the night sky? Were they supplications for rains that never came? Located on the Pacific shores of Peru, these gigantic geoglyphs may date from as early as 500 B.C. Their creation ranged over the next thousand years to 500 A.D. Many are zoomorphic, that is they represent such animals as humming birds, spiders, fish, monkeys and lizards.
Greta Thunberg summed COP26 up: “Blah, Blah, Blah. But,” she said, “the real work continues outside these halls.”
COP26 just about leaves me hopeless that many meaningful initiatives can ever come from this body. Just as I flirted with succumbing to despair, I discovered what non-Western, non-“Global North” First Nations are up to in Northern Canada. Among them is the Beaver Lake Cree Nation which has insisted, given the growing disaffection of its youth, that it participate in the entire solar arrays project development as a way to re-engage its youth. I wondered how many U.S. based tribes had done the same to discover that so far at least 8 tribes have installed solar on their reservations, the Navajo at Window Rock; the Sokaogon Chippewa at Crandon, WI; the Southern Ute in Ignacio, CO; the Washoe in Gardnerville, NV; the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, in Cass Lake, MN; and in Nevada, the Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Washoe in Gardnerville, and in California, the Hoopa Valley tribe in Hoopa, and the Chemehuevi in Havasu Lake. If readers can’t travel to help with these installations, they can donate in support. Each tribe has a website with contact information.
How can these small initiatives teach the rest of us in the U.S. what we need to know to move from blah blah blah to doing?
•First Nations are small governing entities within a much larger governing entity. Effectively, they break down the problem, addressing it in bite-sized pieces.
•Culturally, they do not identify with the over-arching settler colonialist culture. In fact, they have a long and tortuous historic relationship with the Canadian government. If there is any doubt, a reading of Farley Mowat’s People of the Deer can set readers straight. Which suggests that it is high time those of us who want a planet to live on for ourselves and our generations, must allow ourselves to cease identifying with the settler, colonialist, resource extracting culture.
•As our demography transitions away from that of the dominant culture, the potential of an alternative world view gives us the collective power to think differently.
Which would make you feel more positive? pounding nails one at a time with your fellow beings, donating, or more blah blah blah?
AND ON THE HOME FRONT:
DONATE to the tribe of your choice or to the All Points North Foundation earmarked for solar development for Native people.
OUST fossil fuel lobbyists from any future COPs.
HALT the nuclear bailout in the Senate.
DROP all charges against the nearly 100 water protectors at Line 3.
MOVE the Build Back Better Act through the Senate and onto Biden’s desk.
DONATE to climate imperiled countries of he “Global South.”
SUPPORT the farm bill to plant more trees.
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