Assessing the United Nations COP15 Copenhagen Climate Change Talks

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When the Sudanese leaders cry, “Suicide!” to their counterparts at the United Nations Climate Change Talks (COP15), it’s, sadly, not exaggeration, given past history and current predictions. Our global choices have already seriously compromised the health of the planet and taken many lives in Africa and the developing world.

But if one stands back and notices that ‘two’ on the list of places to intervene in a system is a pretty honorable place to be struggling, it kind of puts some of the disappointment with COP15 in perspective. Maybe struggling with goals is actually making major progress… Our friend space [                ] expands.

Frances Moore Lappe, Hazel Henderson, Ken Wilbur and many others have called on humanity collectively for decades to change the way we view the world and the assumptions we make about security, stability and human survival.

Expanding belief systems, mindsets and paradigms, allows space [              ] for solutions to appear. On Donella’s scale, the #1 way to change a system is, “The mindset or paradigm out of which the goals, rules [and] feedback structures arise.” 

At this juncture, in the pause between COP15, further negotiations and beyond, let’s also continue to wrestle with the big ‘one’ (global paradigms) and ‘two’ (fundamental goals) questions like these: 

What is the basis for a new economy?

How can we return to a balance with nature and create a world of dignity, prosperity and life for all our planet’s inhabitants? 

How do enduring, non-materialistic paradigms (like the Buddhist doctrine of interdependence of all form) inspire the creation of new paradigms (like the morphogenetic field) to help us navigate the new millennium?  

Could we adopt a belief system (‘one’) promoting the interdependence of all life and all humanity, which also fosters the riches of national, cultural, corporate and individual identity? What goals (‘two’) would we then create? How would we implement them?

David Suzuki suggests putting the ‘eco’ back in economics.What would happen if nations and the world accepted the concept of Nature as the actual, tangible basis of our existence and of our economy, rather than money? 

What kinds of paradigms, goals and grassroots organizing would incentivize human population control and the reigning in of human consumption?

What would world leaders have to experience to behave more effectively next time around? What other places need to morph and adapt for global paradigms to shift and our long term survival odds to improve? Mass Media? Trade Unions? Corporate Entities? Families? Neighborhoods? Systems of governance? My own ego?

As we continue to move forward with all the steps on Donella’s list – as we continue to take individual, municipal, corporate and provincial actions – as we answer the questions and challenges of this new millennium – more space [                           ] and more possibilities may open for great progress at future global climate change talks.

And, Yes!, there is a zero (0) on Donella Meadows’ list. It’s not on the first page with the run from ‘nine’ to ‘one’. She places it at after the explanations of all the previous steps, at the end of the article. Donella H. Meadows suggests ‘zero’ is transcendent and goes beyond paradigms.

Here’s my beginner’s attempt at a question to ask at ‘zero’.... What would happen if we all agreed to leave a living legacy to our children’s children one thousand generations from now?





Zero. Take a break. Just breathe. A little meditation on emptiness allows unbelievable creativity and solutions to emerge. To survive and thrive, we could transcend ourselves. Or not. No one really knows. The point is, the more one reframes to the positive side of potentials, with tools like Donella Meadows’ ranked scale of ways to intervene in a system, the more one generates options in the face of apparent failure. In fact, mistakes, disasters and failure can be made into opportunities or so say the Buddhists, the behavioral scientists and my mom.

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Olivia Fermi, M.A. A.B.S., ConRes Cert is a writer, photographer and social science professional. She is currently working on a number of projects including a series of books in a series entitled Space to See. 

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