November 5, 2009
With the big meeting in Copenhagen coming up, environmental concerns are moving to the front and center for many eco warriors. I have been struck by a Newsweek editorial by Jon Meacham (November 9, 2009 p.5) in which he shares his more-or-less commitment to recycling but says “It is just that my lightbulbs and Diet Coke cans are not going to make up for the CO2 pouring forth from china’s coal-fired plants.” This echoes my recent post on Ecologies of Grace and fuels (sic) my sense of urgency that I find some kind of existential (or maybe simply emotional) connection to the importance of this work. I understand the ethical importance of caring for the environment and support work in that direction. I hope that those who meet in Copenhagen know whereof they speak and will act accordingly in some way that makes for justice for all.
Meacham believes that “Mammon trumps God” and “Human beings change their behavior only when danger is imminent or when money is at stake”. He hopes that “commerce with a conscience” is going to be the result of concerted government action. We see with the healthcare debate the difficulty of acting for the interest of all over the particular interests of an individual or economic interest group. Can governments express national interest in a way that becomes the equivalent of enlightened self-interest for all people? And can they do it bearing in mind the interconnectedness that means that poor countries still need the ability to grow their economies even while caring for the planet costs money?