Miner Daniel Mihailescu | Getty Images

Kijk verder dan het meten van koolstof

BERLIJN – ‘Klimaatverandering’ is de afgelopen tien jaar bijna synoniem geworden voor ‘koolstofuitstoot.’ Het terugdringen van broeikasgassen in de atmosfeer, gemeten in tonnen ‘koolstofdioxide-equivalenten’ (CO2e) is naar voren gekomen als de belangrijkste doelstelling in de queeste de planeet te redden. Maar zo een simplistische benadering kan de zeer complexe en onderling verbonden ecologische crisis waar we nu mee te maken hebben onmogelijk oplossen.

De eenzijdige focus van het wereldmilieubeleid op ‘koolstof-metrie’ reflecteert een bredere obsessie met metingen en optelsommen. De wereld draait op abstracties – calorieën, kilometers, kilo’s, en nu tonnen CO2e – die schijnbaar objectief zijn en betrouwbaar, vooral als ze zijn ingebed in ‘deskundige’ (vaak economische) taal. Als resultaat hiervan neigen we over de effecten van de geschiedenis van elke abstractie heen te kijken, en ook de dynamiek van de macht en politiek die deze blijven vormgeven.

Een sleutelvoorbeeld van een krachtige en enigszins illusionaire mondiale abstractie is het bruto binnenlands product (bbp), dat na de Tweede wereldoorlog werd aangenomen als de voornaamste maat van de economische ontwikkeling en prestaties van landen, toen wereldmachten internationale financiële instituties begonnen te bouwen die hun relatieve economische macht moesten weerspiegelen. Nu echter is het bbp een bron van grote frustratie geworden, omdat het de realiteit van leven van individuen niet weerspiegelt. Net zoals het groot licht van auto’s kunnen abstracties erg illuminerend zijn, maar ze kunnen er ook voor zorgen dat wat buiten hun schijnsel valt onzichtbaar wordt.

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