As 2007 closes, it's tempting to look back, however briefly, and reflect on the year now past. Lists are made &

best, worst, and so on &

which remind us of all that has occurred over the past twelve months. Find below Case in Point's year end peregrination, such as it is.




First things first: we are indeed a strange and often inexplicable species that seems capable of wondrous and soaring achievements. Everywhere we look are examples of our ingenuity, charity, artistry and creativity. We can be extraordinarily kind and generous, we can live in relative harmony while struggling to sustain governments which liberate instead of shackle.




And we are, simultaneously, a violent and warlike species, willing to dedicate all of our intelligence and courage to the art of war, the 20th century being the quintessential example of our failure to evolve beyond creating killing fields that level nations and their peoples. How do we reconcile our seemingly reflexive response to reach out and help one another with the creation of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and the never-ending warfare which today plagues the world's people?




And how to understand our collective response to what is perhaps the biggest news story of 2007: global warming? Newsworthy not because of what is occurring but because of what isn't: a striking absence of any urgent and orchestrated response on the part of nations. The debate over climate change has now all but receded and even the most reticent of governments have acknowledged (if not embraced) the science of global warming. We have met the threat to our planet and it is us. And there is little dispute that this is a seminal moment in the history of mankind. What lies ahead environmentally is a climate calamity, the full measure yet to be determined.




At this point we are well versed in the litany of disaster that awaits our children's children if we do not set about to construct systemic change around the globe. We are losing species, both plant and animal, at an unprecedented rate. As the temperatures of the oceans rise, coral reefs die and tropical storms increase in intensity. Millions will become environmental refugees. Regarding the Arctic cap, according to an article in the New York Times, "The pace of change has far exceeded what had been estimated by almost all simulation used to envision how the Arctic will respond to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases linked to global warming." Ditto Greenland.




The absence of a worldwide response that reflects the urgency of the problem is stunning. We have the knowledge. We have the technology. Yet nations of the world are unwilling to act in a manner that transcends self interest. How to understand it?




Case in point: The international community gathered recently in Bali and debated the issues of carbon footprints and climate change for days and agreed only to keep talking. The planet is in distress and world leaders are only willing to discuss the distress and not its global solutions. China and India, like America, the three largest polluters, are taciturn and unwilling to react as if the future life of the planet depended on what is done now.




In the opinion of some scientists, the tipping point has arrived and all we can do now is fashion global strategies to cope with a future that will unfold without forecast. Meanwhile, oil fuels the global economies, and countries continue to raze their forests and level habitat that has existed in a delicate balance for thousands of years, and we continue to dump 70 million tons of pollution into the atmosphere daily. It's called business as usual.




Our unwillingness as a world community to act is a myopic, impotent response and tragic in the extreme. And that's the meta story regarding climate change.




America, which could lead, has failed disastrously to address the issue; instead, it has played for time, challenging for as long as possible the science. A morally bankrupt posture and a legacy that will be remembered by our children's children. China and India will not follow if the U.S. does not lead by example. And if the rapidly developing nations are not on board, we cannot achieve the exigent response needed.




But of course all of the above is now well known. The science of climate change has prevailed, made manifest by Al Gore receiving the Nobel Prize for his tireless work on the issue. And Gore will be the first to admit that for reasons that are elusive, the alarm has not registered with nations. "The unprecedented nature of this crisis does make it difficult to communicate," said Gore in his acceptance speech. "We naturally tend to confuse the unprecedented with the improbable." He said this with a degree of bafflement and sadness.




The reality is that this issue is so immense, of such a magnitude, that it almost defies comprehension, and cannot be solved locally. Communities can walk, ride bikes, use low-flow toilets, drive hybrids, eat, sleep and dream organic, build eco-friendly homes, create electrical cars in workshops and garages, and it won't change the direction Mother Earth is headed one millimeter. The global community has to reach consensus and then go quickly green. We are long overdue for a green movement as angry and focused as was the Peace Movement of the late 50s and 60s. So far it has not happened. The question is, Why? What is missing from this puzzle? Even Gore, with his access, has been unable to create a critical mass of world opinion committed to acting now. And so the band plays on.