The Climate Change has been a hot issue since the end of the 20th Century. After several United Nations Conference on Environment and Development; governments signed a protocol in Kyoto, Japan that marked their commitments in saving the environment. The commitment is popularly known as the Kyoto Protocol. An article (UNFCCC, 2012) explains that the Kyoto Protocol binds the countries to reduce their carbon emissions and penalized violators thereof. Also, it was in this protocol that benchmarked the market-based mechanism on carbon trading that will offset the too much green house gases emission of a certain country.
After almost two decades since the signing of the protocol, there was no change in the emission of green house gases. Some of the first world countries like the United States of America did not comply with the protocol. They instead undermined the global cry for climate justice by retracting their commitment during Bush’s regime. Despite the concrete evidence of climate change, big corporations continue ravaging the earth’s natural resources and putting mother earth on peril. Leahy (2012, pp. 18-19) said that during the UN Climate Conference held in Cancun, environment activists in Canada cried foul over the extraction of oil from tar sands citing that it is a dirty oil as it consumes huge amount of energy in the extraction. Moreover, during the Rio+20 in Rio de Janiero Brazil, the Civil Society stormed the social media about the “business-as-usual” scheme of corporations and the first world countries in solving the climate crisis.
Elsewhere in the world, large scale corporate mining continues despite protests from the communities and civil society. Foreign corporations carpeted the Philippines and other third world countries with existing operations and applications for mineral extraction. In Burma, the natural gas extraction of Chevron continues despite firm opposition from the concerned communities as it has polluted their land, rivers and seas.
As it appears, the Kyoto Protocol and other international conventions and declarations on environment are toothless because of corporate greed. They remain toothless unless the states concerned ratify and enforce it strictly. This feature article will try to explain that until human beings reflect on the story of King Midas and act for a change, then mother Earth has a hope to exist. It will also try to discover some possible solutions in addressing the climate change. These solutions can be an overhaul of human lifestyle specifically of massive consumerism. It will need a systemic change through mass movements and strong political will. It will need the eradication of King Midas’ character that has been embedded in the human being’s mindset.
The Reflection of King Midas
Story Soup Kids (2006) tells about King Midas who was the richest in the world. He possessed more gold than any other man in the planet. He even treasures the gold more than his daughter Marigold. One day, a fairy appeared before him and offered a magic that will turn all that King Midas touches into gold. He accepted the magic and tried it the next morning. Truly, all that he touches turned into solid gold. The tables, bed, all the he touches. When he was to eat his breakfast, he cannot eat the delicious food on the table as they all turn into gold. Even a drop of water cannot pass his mouth. In his disbelief and regret, his daughter turned into gold when he touches her with his lips. With much regret and remorse, he called the fairy and retracts the magic because he realized that there are more important things on earth than gold. The important things he said includes his daughter and food. He realized that he cannot eat gold. The fairy then granted his wish and as he and his daughter sat to eat, King Midas savored the taste of water and food like he never ate before.
Reflecting from the kid’s story, King Midas character is present in every individual especially to the rich and powerful. A video documentary Thrive (2012) presented that 99 percent of the earth’s wealth is in the hands of the few rich and powerful families; while the 99 percent of the earth’s population are competing on the one percent of the earth’s wealth. It also explained that the few families like Ford owns the almost all the pollutant businesses that includes oil and natural gas extractions, vehicle manufacturing firms, mineral and coal mining among many others. Despite their filthy wealth, they are still hungry to rake more profit. Their characters capture the modern King Midas. Aside from their businesses located in North America and other countries in the North, they are expanding their extractive businesses in Asia, Africa, and other poor countries. In the Philippines in particular, American, Australian, French, Canadian and other foreign nations own the entire big mining industry. After extraction, they leave their wastes to destroy the forest, land, air and water that are supposed to be giving life to the people living in the area.
The Unwillingness of the Rich to Hear the Poor
Despite documented sins of these corporations to the environment, they easily escape sanctions that the United Nations and other international bodies enforce. The Civil Society has been all over the internet and lobbying governments through national and international arenas to hold corporations accountable to the climate crisis. The thrive movement, Green Peace and other environment organizations are active in the social media in proposing sound solutions to the problem. However, corporations and concerned states seem to be deaf about it. This was evident in the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany in 2012 where the talk reached deadlock. It is because the framework of the corporation and first world governments contradicts with the framework of the third world and civil society.
Moreover, during the Climate Change Conference in 2013 held in Doha, Quatar, the Philippines representative cried while giving his intervention. He cried because the Philippines during that time suffered the onslaught of a super typhoon and earth quake that killed thousands of people. Civil society and environmentalists attributed the wrath to the climate crisis. The Philippines representative called the corporations and first world countries to act for climate justice. However, the conference ended with no commitment from the said countries who own the many extractive industries in the Philippines since the colonization period.
A Systemic Overhaul Will Bring Climate Justice
Thrive Movement in the documentary film entitled Thrive (2012) suggested a sound solution to the crisis. One of these solutions is doing away with fossil energy by giving priority to renewable sources of energy. These sources of energy include hydro-electric, solar, thermal, and wind powers. Unlike fossil that needs millions of years to replenish, these kinds of energy sources are readily available. Man only needs appropriate technology to harness these God-given gifts. Moreover, it gives mankind a hope that mother earth will live longer.
The problem however is the unwillingness of corporations to stop their endless drillings and pollution. If all the forest become bald, the rivers run dry, and the land is poisoned, they will surely realized that they cannot eat their gold bars. One of the great Native American named Chief Sealth said, “The Rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you would give to the rivers the kindness that you would via any brother,” (Smith, 1854).