The Mustang and the Donkey

The climate talks are a lot like a car race if you think about it, but with a twist. Each country is racing toward the finish line as if getting there would be enough to win. But the twist in this race is that, in order to win, we have to all finish at the exact same time. If one country gets there sooner, then…oops…total calamity. The US is driving a 2010 Ford Mustang and is so far ahead of the nearest rival that we can’t even see them in the rearview mirror. China is driving a beat up 1970 Ford F150 and is chugging along with the finish line in sight. Their pit crew keeps replacing their car too and it’s likely that they will continue upgrading until they are cruising along as fast as the US. Some countries don’t have a chance to catch up. They don’t even have cars. Most of the African countries are riding horses and donkeys, or just running barefoot. Some other countries weren’t even told we were racing so they are still at the beginning.

The analogy here is that the architecture of the globalized economy is the race that we thought we were in. In that race, the US is winning and China is catching up. But the trick is that the rules have changed in the middle of the race and the new rules say that we are all in this race together. It seems possible the US can continue dominating the market with the old rules but unfortunately this will lead to us losing the bigger game, having a healthy, bountiful and prosperous planet to call our home. China has a shot at the gold too, with their economy breaking out of their industrial revolution as a genuine challenge to the US hegemony. But if they continue business as usual, we all lose.

OK. Time out! Let’s incorporate these new rules into the economic model so we don’t destroy everything that we hold most dear. We have to finish the race together and that means the global leaders need to slow down and focus on an equitable and sustainable solution that ensures our children and grandchildren can have a chance as well.

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