An Anti-Climatic Ending

December 18, 2008

Excuse the pun in the title of this entry in my journal here.  The proper, or at least expected title would be An Anticlimactic Ending.  But I could not resist the opportunity to tread again on the habitual.

The UN climate conference in Poznan, Poland came to a disappointing conclusion on December 12th.   The ‘spin’ of press releases coming from official UN sources, which were picked up unquestioningly by new media around the world claimed a successful conclusion.  They alluded to the conference concluding with a (paraphrase) ‘clear statement of what now needs to be done’.  In other words, the conference ended with a restatement of the same things that had been decided and stated the year before in the ‘Bali Roadmap’.  There may have been minor ‘progress’, but that could hardly be lauded in respect of the vast distance that remains between what has been stated and achieving an unambiguous agreement, strong and comprehensive enough to avert the worst of what is to come in the climate crisis ahead.

It would be more honest had they said that nothing substantial had been accomplished, and that the the world had, once again, been held hostage by the limited national interests of certain countries, and often by the conflicts-of-interests created by the coziness or collusion of governments with the fossil fuel and other industrial lobbies.

Some news outlets did look further and draw more appropriate conclusions.  And there were articles which acknowledged the lack of real progress in the negotiations.

It was a sad day for the future of the world.  We now have but one year remaining until the final round of negotiation to take place in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Between now aand then there will be 3 additional meetins of the parties, most likely in Bonn, Germany and Geneva, Switzerland.  And then there remains much work for us to do.

Over the coming year the people of the world, perhaps lead by the very youth who were so brilliant at this year’s conference, will need to be alerted to the danger at hand, and will have to rise in spontaneous (or planned and coordinated) public protest and civil disobedience.  Governments must be told in clear and unambiguous terms that we are aware, in ways they may as yet not be, that the future of life on Earth depends upon their actions.  That they must abandon personal interests, and must rise above limited and limiting national interests, to reach a vantage point where they can see clearly the true interests of their children, their people, their nation, and the future that they will commit us all to.

I will now turn my attention more fully to what I have determined to be our best and last chance to get it right.  I will be promoting the film The Age of Stupid, which I discussed in an earlier post.  I welcome anyone reading this who wants more information about the film, or wishes to help in its reaching the widest possible audience, to email me at the.age.of.stupid@gmail.com, for the sake of Life on Earth.


What Can We Do?

December 12, 2008

I just found myself writing to a friend in answer to her question, what can a small person do who is already recycling to the max, etc.  That is the question of the day and indeed of the present age.  Here was my answer.

“Dana, you do NOT sound trite.  That is precisely the question.  My answer at the moment is

  1. Redouble your efforts of what you are already doing.  The effects may be small, but walking the walk is critical, especially if those of us who know what lies ahead are to create a recognizable path for others to follow.
  2. Find your voice.  That is, figure out how to make this a daily conversation with everyone you meet… walking the walk helps make it a constant topic.  For instance, every time you refuse a plastic bag at the checkout, and vocally remark at the 60,000 bags a second used in the US alone, you engage at least 2 or three other people in the paradigm shift.
  3. Raise your voice with government at all levels. Democracy does not mean voting once every 4 years.  You vote every day with every purchase you make.  Vote only for things that improve our prospects of survival on the Earth.  Personally, I feel that you can largely forget about the online petitions.  They are a ‘feel-good’ thing and I believe they divert us from REAL action by making us think we ‘gave at the office’, so to speak.  If you like being among the, say, 100,000 people who responded ‘thus and such’ to ‘so and so’, that is fine.  But they are too easy to do, to easy to fake (I can sign 30 times as 30 different online people) and most of all, too easy to dismiss.  Get phone numbers and make calls… often… to the feds, the state, your local government.
  4. Get into the boardrooms of the world… buy one share of stock (not for the investment) of any corporation you see creating the problem (which is most of them).  That makes you one of their stockholders with as much standing to say your mind as any… then use that.  Again do it by phone which is the most potent.
  5. Be prepared to demonstrate, to take to the streets.  It is my contention that within a few years there will be massive protests around the world, and I am in fact planting seeds toward that eventuality.  That is a final resort in a way, but my sense is that it will come to that.  That is what ended the War in Vietnam.  We must return to those tactics to avoid ending all Life on Earth in a climate catastrophe of unthinkable dimensions.

We MUST make it clear to all people we know that 2015 is the deadline by which humanity MUST start REDUCING the total carbon emissions (not merely slowing the rate of growth as is currently being negotiated in Poznan, Poland) or we are ‘dead meat’ as the saying goes, along with the majority of species of Life on Earth.  The funeral will come later, but the despicable deed will be done by 2015.  This is NOT hyperbole.  It is the reality of the situation as I see it (along with the UN IPCC although they do not engage in the colorful metaphors that I do), and I believe I see it clearly after studying it and being intimately involved for some years now.

It is not a pretty message, but it is one that must guide our dayly actions.  We who know and feel this deep calling must become ‘climate warriors’… peaceful warriors.  There is at present no higher calling in my humble opinion.

For the Earth – §


The Age of Stupid

December 10, 2008

I am at a loss for how to even begin to express the treasure I’ve found in the past couple of days.  It is something so vital to the effort to save humanity from its own ‘success’ that I have decided to attach myself to the effort to promote this amazing documentary.  It is called The Age of Stupid.  I will provide links below to the website for the film, specifically to the page with trailers, and encourage you to whet your appetite in advance of the film’s actual release, which will come as early in 2009 as the people behind the film can negotiate.  But before I lose your attention to that website, let me give you my personal take on the film and its place in the scheme of things.

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Insurance and Risk Management

December 8, 2008

I suppose you might say my late arrival at the conference was occasioned by my personal risk management.  In other words, I slept late, ate a hearty breakfast,  and had a leisurely morning (I can feel the guilt arising). So after checking the list of side events today (there is a one-day hiatus from plenary sessions), I chose a few of interest and set out on my way to building 14b.

My two first choices turned out to be less than personally interesting, standing room only notwithstanding.  So I happened into a third one which caught my eye in the Daily Programme as being co-hosted by Columbia University, my alma mater.  It was one I had rejected on my initial triage due to the title. Climate Risk Insurance.  For me that title was a non-starter, since I admittedly have the personal bias that insurance companies are the leeches of modern society, draining off the financial life-blood of individuals and organizations in support of their bloated payrolls, buildings, corporate jets and executive salaries and ‘perks’.

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The Mother of all Parties

December 7, 2008

I would be guilty of the greatest omission if I failed to include the famous NGO party in my accounting of being here in Poznan.  On the Saturday night and Sunday morning between weeks one and tow of the conference there is traditionally a party thrown by the NGOs attending.  The entirety of the Tuba Club was this year’s venue and the large cavernous brick Interior was reserved completely for that purpose.  Admission was either being in possession of a conference entry badge, being with someone who had one, or likely knowing someone who worked at the club (which would explain the goodly number of extra Polish dudes and dolls there).

I am not much of a party person, let me say, but would quickly learn to be one if I lived in Poznan.  The young set here (hard to dimension that generality) runs a cumulative social life around mobile phones, and so coordinates movements and party going.  The UN crowd does not have that, uh, level of communication, so a mention in the daily ECO (the daily publication of the Climate Action Network, but another post on that topic – see ECO of the past, Omen of the future).  The place was mobbed from 9 pm when I arrived and was still hanging in there at 4 when I left.  Oh yes, I spent the first few hours of my birthday there after midnight as well.

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False Solutions

December 7, 2008

For several reasons, I am obliged to blog this rather overlooked, minor player in the cacophony of voices clamoring to be heard here at COP-14 (the formal designation of the meeting).  As I have noted elsewhere (see Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing post) there are numerous false solutions to global warming being foisted on the world.  Some may prove to be so in hindsight, since the consequences of major tinkering with the systems of the Earth by our imperfect minds and hands can never quite be completely anticipated. But others may prove to be the product of the same self-interested, flawed paradigms that created the problem in the first place.

I gained admission to COP-14 as the ‘guest’ of the Ecology Center, out of Berkeley California (another long story that one, since we were mutually strangers in the great climate change cloud before the conference).  Their primary message here in Poznan relates to the closely related false-solution/true-solution pair of waste incineration and recycling.

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Youth and Climate

December 7, 2008

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.

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