Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness

I came across this Chinese proverb when reading Harriet Lamb’s book on highlighting the issues raised by the Fair Trade system. Yet (as with many proverbs) it can also be applied to the campaigns currently taking place to persuade the world’s leaders to make commitments to prevent the damage caused by climate change.

As world leaders meet in Copenhagen this week, and with talks already under way, the media frenzy surrounding the summit has been garnering support for action on climate change. In an historical feat attempting to persuade the key politicians to commit to cutting carbon emissions, newspapers all over the world have published an editorial to highlight the issue (it even made the Guardian’s front page).

The editorial tackles the recent criticisms of scientists claiming that climate change theory is just a hoax ‘In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage’. Arguments about the reliability of data in various scientific reports are dismissed in favour of provoking an active political response to the undeniable fact that the polar ice caps are melting.

‘The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.’

While there will undoubtedly be furious debates on cutting emissions, and endless arguments on the formulation of the treaty, the expectation is that this will be a historical summit, not for its hopeless lack of action, but for marking a vital step towards tackling climate change. I really hope that the following fortnight of negotiations results in the latter. Let’s see them light a candle for future generations.

‘The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.’


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi thanks for the link in there, certainly is a historic event with so many papers from around the world uniting in a joint effort for this very noble cause. Unfortunately it was only the Guardian that took part in the UK, whereas in France Le Monde and Liberation did. Mind you, the USA was only represented by the regional Miami Times…

    Anyway, I have to disagree with what you said “(it even made the Guardian’s front page)” – it was the entire Guardian front page and they were the prinicple pioneers behind the editorial so it was always going to make the cover but I didn’t expect it to be the entire cover…

    • Hi Andrew,
      By linking to your blog I had intented to highlight the fact that it was certainly impressive to have an editorial taking up the whole front page of a newspaper – sorry if that wasn’t clear in my comment.
      Still, while only a few prominent newspapers printed it – one can still hope it made an impact on the relevant politicians that read it and will hopefully influence their decision making at the summit.

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