By **William Powers**
COPENHAGEN—It’s a little ironic. The world has gathered at the climate conference in Copenhagen to talk about the weather, but few people are aware of, well, the weather. Not weather trends, mind you. There’s plenty of discussion about that. I’m talking about the fact that it’s snowing now in the Danish capital—lightly, beautifully.
This is more than poetic musing. Both Freud and Jung said that the world’s problems can’t be solved with the same type of thinking that created them. Recent psychological studies suggest that humans cannot solve environmental problems through logic alone, divorced from the environment we’re trying to protect. We have to also feel ourselves to be part of nature.
Take the example of one Latin American delegate I met here. She has been working until 2am every night; and she wakes up at 5am to begin work every day. “Can she make good decisions without any sleep?” a colleague asked, rhetorically, to a group of us here in the gargantuan, windowless media room.
An ethos of total work reigns in Copenhagen—not unlike the one that’s consuming the world’s finite resources at unsustainable rates and spewing out tons of greenhouse gasses. Blackberrys vibrate away as participants race from meeting to meeting, stopping only to gulp down a double espresso.
Meanwhile, I discovered a “meditation and prayer room” here, and walked inside today. Of the 40,000 participants, only one was there in the silent space, amid a half dozen potted trees. In a business suit, he was stretched out of the floor, asleep.
I’m not suggesting delegates chant “ohm” all day or hug trees instead of hammering out solutions to climate change. Global warming is already contributing to floods and hurricanes, severe droughts, and spreading diseases like dengue fever and malaria. The need for work is urgent—the world must act.
But if we’re to achieve equilibrium in our ecosystem, shouldn’t we also foster equilibrium in our lives? Here’s a modest suggestion for the delegates: work hard, but also step outside once in a while and catch a snowflake on your tongue.
I know at least four leaders from Bhutan who are probably doing just that.
Their presentation on Friday is still sending ripples, but it hasn’t been covered much in the media. Perhaps that’s because it’s not as fashionable as climate-ironies (like the 140 carbon-spewing private jets arriving here during the peak period alone—so many, in fact, that they have to drop their passengers, “park” in Sweden, and fly back to pick them up) and the climate-celebrities present (like Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah, Prince Charles, and Sheryl Crow).