This year’s Earth Day celebrations are focusing on effecting legislation for climate change, both globally and nationally.  This focus on climate change coincides nicely with the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia.

The Conference was held April 20-22 in Cochabamba, Bolivia — the same city where the famous ‘Water Wars’ took place 10 years ago.  The summit is meant to be a recognition of those countries (mostly developing countries) who were left out of the Copenhagen Accord.  Environmental leaders, indigenous leaders, and civilians from around the world gathered in Cochabamba to discuss a plan for counteracting climate change.

Bolivian president Evo Morales is at the fore-front of this message, saying that ‘either capitalism dies, or it will be Mother Earth.’  The theme of this conference is very much that indigenous lifestyles are the best way to live sustainably, and that more industrialized nations should bear their weight of responsibility when it comes to the damage that has been done to the global environment.

The intent of the delegations in attendance is to draft new proposals to submit to the UN council in Mexico later year.

These proposals would focus on ways to have all countries bear the proportionate responsibility when it comes to climate change — those that have polluted more should be expected to clean up more.

While the policies of the Latin American countries featured at this conference tend to be much more left-leaning than any policies of the developed world, their arguments for a better respect for nature are not unsound.  Capitalism’s history has damaged and degraded the environment, leaving destruction in its wake.  It is entirely possible for there to be a capitalist system that is also environmentally-friendly — Capitalism just needs to take its share of the responsibility to clean up.

It is unfortunate that discussion about the differences between the developing countries and the developed countries approaches to climate change get reduced to discussion about politics (left vs. right; socialist vs. capitalist).  At the forefront should be the facts that climate change is happening, capitalism and industrialized countries contributed more to it than did developing countries, and we need to work together to find a solution to the problem.  In my opinion, developed countries should absolutely have to reduce their emissions faster than developing countries — we have to money to do it sooner. And once our emissions are reduced, I think we should help developing countries reduce theirs as well.

Check out the list of what Bolivian President Evo Morales would like to accomplish with this conference and have ready to take to Mexico later this year.  I see this goals as attainable and reasonable, and think that the UN and the developed countries should take notice of them.

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