The end of arrogance - Bargaining

Liam’s anger continued towards those who believed in the World View Equal Nature (WOVEN) philosophy recognising the place of humans in nature not above nature. He could now at least admit that his anger was mostly about the policymakers and the policy decisions they make on a daily basis. He could cope with the philosophy in the abstract but the practicalities set him off. He no longer worried about expressing his feelings to Beth and Amelia in the presence of The Listener (or more accurately The Listeners). Unable to influence or change the decisions of the policy makers he could at least win the arguments with his family. He could persuade them of the wrongness of the policies and the rightness of his alternatives – couldn’t he?

Daughter and wife were used to Liam’s determination to argue and seek a bargain with whoever would listen. His objective was always the same. He wanted his adversary to concede that his policy ideas would be better than those currently in place.

When he hooked up with his brother Ben they often came close to blows, well metaphorically as they communicated on their digital devices. He could see in the background the mountains of Colorado which Ben enjoyed every day while Liam had to be satisfied with his small open space with what he regarded as an unkempt patch of grass with weeds. Compared with views and easy access to The Rockies, Liam’s little patch and suburban environment felt terribly unjust. He tried to persuade his brother Ben of two injustices and a remedy. First he argued, those who have access to the best landscapes, environment, biodiversity and standard of living should contribute to improving things for those with fewer benefits. This amounted to taxing people for their greater quality of life rather than the more traditional tax on wealth and spending. His second argument was that those nations whose economic activities had caused the past damage through exploitation of the world’s ecosystems should pay remediation to those whose quality of life was now poorer than it might have been. Ben’s response was to point out that he too was subject to the actions of policy makers. Limitations on tourism and farming aimed at the strongest constraints on destruction of biodiversity had been introduced and had reduced economic activity as a consequence.

Conservation of wildlife and landscape, particularly native plants and pollinators had unquestionably made the Rockies National Park progressively more bio diverse, visually and spiritually rich than it had been in past decades. All eleven States adjoining The Rockies and two Canadian Provinces were now within one enormous pan-National Park so the limitations on what Ben was permitted to do or consume hurt him but just in slightly different ways to those Liam experienced. For example visits to the Rockies National Park were strictly rationed and permits expensive and available for visits of no more than three days. The only concession that Ben would make was to admit that living in The Rockies was more fun than English suburbia and he counted his blessings for that.

Amelia’s sister Lois moved to Queenstown, South Island New Zealand some years ago and started a career in tourism and hospitality. Liam used his times of digital contact with his sister-in-law to argue that the price of remedying climate and environmental damage was tougher for him than for her. Like brother Ben she too had the benefits of a beautiful wild landscape. She and her family have lakes, mountains and fjords a short drive away. Although it must be said that very little remains of the once extensive glaciers that were part of the tourist attraction. He tried the same argument rejected by his brother. That is that those with the better quality of life should compensate those in dull suburbia. She didn’t buy that idea. Queenstown she argued makes its living from tourism. The worldwide restrictions on air travel had diminished Queenstown’s economy and locals now live a simpler life, in a beautiful environment, true, but with greatly reduced financial wealth. Rationing individuals’ allocation of air miles travelled had been revolutionary. It had primarily been introduced to reduce carbon emissions and was aimed at ameliorating climate change. New Zealand was hit very hard but they had just got on with, adapted and not whinged. Furthermore Lois argued New Zealand had long been a leading influence on climate change and biodiversity thinking, research and policy development and implementation. Many of the best case studies related to efforts made in New Zealand. They had integrated radical economic, social and environmental policies more quickly and more effectively than any other county in the world. Lois was in no mind to accept Liam’s arguments. Her response was firm and uncompromising. Liam she would say, “Come back and argue your case again when the UK has achieved one tenth of our achievements”.

Fundamentally Liam felt hard done by. The flow of new regulations was unremitting. To some extent policy making was international and attempted to achieve a logical and equitable impact on each nation. It was imperfect of course. Then there were national and more local applications of policy. He always wanted to exercise some kind of negotiation to lessen the hardships that he felt he had to endure. The power to make and enforce regulations lay elsewhere and he could not influence that. His only choices were about how to comply not whether or not to comply. He and his household could choose which energy efficient vehicle to drive, which organic vegetables to buy, where and when to travel. Liam didn’t see these things as opportunities, personal freedoms, and fulfilments of his responsibilities but merely more impositions.

Liam could not win the arguments with his nearest and dearest. They rebuffed him firmly. His mood spiralled down after each unsuccessful attempt to persuade them that his ideas were better than current policies for the environment and the climate. He saw nothing positive in it, only negatives.

To be continued................

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