Should we share the bill?

04-11-2009 23:53
“A rich man and a poor man went to a restaurant. The rich man ordered two courses, red wine and a dessert. The poor man just asked for the dessert. When the bill arrived the rich man said to the poor that they have to share the bill half-half.”

This example, given by Kristian Hoyer-Toft, one of the conference’s speakers, was really appropriate to illustrate the theme of TRACK 1 session’s of Wednesday: responsibility.

One of the points in the presentation made by the German lecturer, Franziska Martinsen, was the Iris Marion Young concept of “shared” ecological responsibility.

This means that both individuals and institutions are responsible for the negative effects of climate change because they have an indirect co-participation in capitalist structures like socio-economic processes and political or cultural arrangements, especially in a globalized world.

Her conclusion was that individuals are conceived as having the obligation to change unjust structures and ideally to transform them into just ones. One of her examples was by boycotting products which have climate damaging impacts, respectively supporting products that are produced climate-neutrally.

“It is up to us to decide if the climate change will lead to a fatalistic horror scenario or if we want to share the responsibility for the future. It is here and now,” Franziska Martinsen said.

Sofia Vaz, a Portuguese environmental engineer, also emphasized the role of the individual in taking responsibility for climate change during her presentation this Wednesday.

With a very positive view about human beings, she talked about responsibility as a virtue, and explained how you can develop responsibility as a trait of the individual.

The first step would be take responsibility as a habit, something that you can learn through a lot of education. The second stage is to learn about environment to empower people, and the last is to have an positive mood in your daily life.

According to Sofia Vaz there is a “feel good factor” in human beings that can impel them to be responsible and do good things for the environment.

“We already live in a fatalistic reality ruled by ‘there is nothing to do about it’. So, we don’t loose anything in trying to be responsible", she argued.

These are very optimistic views about the responsibility of climate change. Perspectives where we assume that the poor man in the restaurant would not argue, fight, or deny sharing the bill with the rich man. The question that remains is to figure out what kind of men are in this restaurant.

by Caroline d'Essen

Category: Conference news


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