It is perhaps one of the peaks of pathos, as well as the heights of hope that are represented by what is known at the conference as the International Youth Delegation, but which I prefer to call them, the Next Generation. They are the cream of the crop among our young visionaries and activists. They compete for inclusion here in their delegation. They truly are representative of their constituency in diversity. They are our conscience in this flawed process that is the COP climate negotiations.
At a meeting I attended this past week which was billed as an ‘engagement of the youth’, a meeting with Yvo de Boer and others of similar stature and vision, a young lady Anna Keenan from Australia, also a member of Al Gore’s Climate Project, gave an inspiring brief presentation in her 5 minutes. She told of how she and 4 of her compatriots made the journey from Australia to Poznan, Poland entirely overland save for the brief crossing of straits that could not be avoided. She spoke of the thousands of other young people, members of the Youth Delegation and others, whom they met along the way. Many of them wanted to join her here in Poland, but few could do to the constraints of their lives, not least of which is funding.
This group of young people represents both the future hope of the planet in their wisdom and energy, and the unfortunate inheritors of the mess that those who’ve gone before them have made and continue to make of the world. They meet every morning to plan their activities of the day; they meet every evening to assess their success and impact, and to learn for the next day’s battles.
They turn up in countless places and have cross-representation within other NGOs and ancillary defenders of the Earth as well, like the Climate Action Network, Al Gore’s climate project, which tragically has missed the opportunity of furthering their mission with a presence in Poznan, the press corps (both official and unofficial), and others.
There is so much to say in praise of this group that it is difficult to know where to start. But let me do something else entirely. Let me brief you on a question and answer exchanged within the ‘youth engagement’ meeting mentioned earlier. After all presenters had had their 5 minutes to speak, an audience member posed a question to Yvo de Boer, who, as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) is essentially the host of this whole big Save the Planet party here in Poznan. They young questioner asked what is he to bring back to his home country in terms of direction and hope, when the youth of the planet is not allowed standing in the talks, and thus their interest, perhaps the highest of all in the human dimension of this crisis, is under-represented at best, and completely marginalized as worst.
As mentioned in an earlier post, my impression of Mr. de Boer is that he is a wise soul rightly entrusted with this vast responsibility of leading the minions of 6 billion humans, as well as the countless beings represented by the collective, composite noun as Life on Earth. His responses were most interesting and I offer them to all my readers (or shall I say ‘both of them’) in the hopes that this under-reported facet of COP-14 will inspire more to right action. Three of his answers, there may have been more, as I remember their spirit without the benefit of notes and taking liberty with the actual prose with which they were delivered, were as follows:
- Don’t wear business suits, wear the garb of your youth and suitable to your cultures and positions to that you will be better noticed
- Speak loudly, yell if you can, scream if you must. Do what ever it takes to gain the notice of your governments and elders in business and commerce
- There are 3 delegations that include youth membership in their official ranks. Increase this number. Demand representation of you interests and ideas from your governments.
The youth of our lonely planet will inherit the Earth, at least from an anthropocentric point of view, in all of its beauty and glory, as well as in its much-compromised state. This youth is not at all meek. Let us hope that the ecological sins of the fathers are not visited on the children for a thousand generations as is described in that problematic parable known as the Bible. Let us hope to turn the Bible upside down by visiting the good thoughts and deeds of the children upon the sins of their parents.
Neither this year’s conference in Poland, nor next year’s COP-15 in Copenhagen will solve the problems, at least not the vast majority of them. It will be a meager continuation down the path of planetary healing. Many have come to view humanity as a disease of the organism, the sum of all consciousnesses, human and other, of the planetary ecosphere called Gaia. Perhaps global warming is the fever that Gaia is taking in order to shed this disease, or at least put under control the vast proliferation of offending individual disease pathogens. I for one only express the tearful hope that we will not, in the folly and waste of our ways, be the agent of the extinction of all Life on Earth, which is a distinct possibility under some future scenarios.
On the other hand, we may in fact be capable of rising to a level of cumulative wisdom to avoid what appears to be the increasing probability of our dim fate. We may learn new paradigms by which ‘more’ is replaced by ‘enough’ in our hearts and souls; by which ‘me’ is replaced by ‘we’ in our notion of who we are; and by which that ‘we’ grows to include both future generations of homo sapiens sapiens AND all other forms of life on our tiny blue-green planet floating in the vast reaches of interstellar space.
For the Earth – §