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.


Arriving in Poznan

December 1, 2008

November 30th – I have arrived in Poznan.  It was not a long trip, and the scenery was welcome if a bit bleak on a damp, gray winter day.  On the train the woman sitting opposite me was also on her way to the conference, and American, working for the Stockholm Environmental Institute, stationed in Bangkok.  Due to the ‘sit in’ at the Bangkok airport, she was forced to find unconventional means of leaving the country and ended up waiting 12 hours at a small airfield which had been setup by the Americans as an operational base during one of the conflicts of the late 20th century in that region.

She was very talkative and helpful however, giving me some tips on what to expect at the conference, what documents to watch out for, and what social events were not to be missed (like the NGO party on Saturday evening).  She also indicated that if faced with the choice of admission as an NGO observer or a member of the press, she would choose the former.  She also gave me the valuable tip to register the Sunday evening of my arrival, rather than wait for the opening day of the conference when registration is bedlam.  Her advice on the preferable registration status was useful since I was indeed faced with a choice.  And that advice was repeated by another apparent veteran of the process standing at the counter next to me.

I grabbed a booklet at the information desk on the schedule of ‘side events’ for the conference.  There is a dreadful overlap of events that I would like to attend.  Being just one person, I will have to choose.  As my reason for coming is to make the greatest difference I can to the outcome of the conference, my selection will have to be guided by my intellect, instinct and providence.

For the Earth – (S)


En Route to Poznan

December 1, 2008

November 30th – The date of some postings (like this one) will differ from the actual date they were written.  Often one must write offline and upload as access to the Internet permits.

I am everywhere touched by the kindness of strangers. I left my home of one week with Ale Gutierrez, an Argentinian living in Copenhagen.  I will hopefully see her again next year, in Copenhagen, when I hope to attend the COP-15, final session of the UN FCCC Conference on Climate Change.

A short, 1 hour flight to Berlin, and I am whisked away by the famously efficient and timely Bahn train system to my new ‘couch surf’ hosts.  (See http://www.couchsurfing.com/)  Couch surfing was part of what made this adventure possible for me.  As I am completely on personal funds on this trip, I must not only keep my carbon footprint minimal (and buy carbon offsets for my travel), but I must keep my monetary footprint to a minimum as well.  The Couch Surfing ‘movement’ is a God-send. It is a hearkening back to the days when young people were in motion in the US, ‘crashing’ with others of like mind, often calling themselves ‘hippies’.  But today there is no such stygma associated with it.  It is just another community of cohesion between open-hearted, like-minded individuals sharing their homes and lives.

I stayed in Berlin with Andreas, his wife Ulriche and their daugher Marlena last night.  It was a cold night, -3 degrees C I am told.  I slept with 5 layers of clothing on, under a down sleeping bag, with a comforter on top of it.  Still in the night I got up to put on a hat and scarf.  My body is not prepared for this temperature.

I find it curious that the United Nations would select Poznan, Poland, arguably one of the coldest spots they could have selected at the coldest time of year, for a conference to deal with the specter of global warming.  Andreas suggested that it must have been the availability of rooms in Poznan, a medium sized city, but with no great tourist appeal at this time of year.

And indeed, this may be an unusually warm winter for northern Europe.  My hosts in Berlin said that at this point each winter in Berlin there is apt to be a foot or more of snow on the group.  Today there is nothing.


Poznan Diary

November 26, 2008

Today I will start my Poznan Diary.  Poznan is the city in Poland hosting the 2008 round of the UN FCCC climate change talks.  On December 1st the delegations of 190 nations, plus countless observers from NGOs, IGOs, the press, (and the public) will converge on Poznan to participate in or observe events that will shape the climate future of the planet Earth.

The irony of my situation is suddenly hitting me.  Here I am packing the warmest clothes I have to leave sunny Honolulu to fly to frigid northern Europe in order to attend a UN conference on climate change.