“They Nodded and Noted and Vetoed and Voted”: A Homage To Dr. Suess & U.N. Climate Talks

This is a repost from last December 26th, in case any of you were too busy that day to drop by for a visit.

Dr. Seuss was always an accurate as well as entertaining observer of human nature. Marcus Brigstoke and the other funny folks at the British radio comedy “The Now Show” pay homage to him in their take on last December’s UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen. It will make you laugh and cry!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_RlKxz_ymQ]

Post-Copenhagen – What Now?

It’s been 4 days since the historic UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen ended. The general consensus among those concerned about the future of the planet, and the impact of man-made emissions on it, seems to be that Copenhagen was a failure (see my posts here and here). Grist.org’s David Roberts has written a comprehensive discussion of the conference, Copenhagen: a look back at the most striking narratives, that is worth a read. He discusses why it is significant that it was leaders, and not their negotiators, that were “up in it” the last few days of the conference. He also looks at China’s obstructive role in the process, why the UN may not be the best place to advance this cause, and the role of the U.S. Senate now. He has this to say about looking forward from here:

“What came out of Copenhagen is nothing but a faint promise. To make it something real, much less what’s needed,  will require intense pressure from civil society, elites, businesses, enlightened governments, and ordinary citizens. And guess what? If there is a robust, legally binding treaty signed in Mexico next year, with sufficient targets and timetables … intense pressure will still be required.

This will be a century-long fight. If the green movement is going to sustain itself over time, it might be wise to try to avoid the emotional roller coaster of “last chances” and “historic failures.” That’s a recipe for burnout. There will be no cathartic moment, no final breakthrough, only a war of inches won by sheer persistence and creativity.”

So, relax and enjoy the holiday season and bring in the New Year with gusto. Recharge your batteries (sustainably of course!), and don’t despair (that’s a luxury we can’t afford right now). There’s more work to be done in 2011!


“The Elephant is Moving”

Here’s what Avaaz.org, a grassroots activist organization, had to say about the failed negotiations in Copenhagen last week:

“…while leaders failed to make history, people around the world did. In thousands of vigils, rallies and protests, hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and millions of petition signatures, an unprecedented movement rose to this moment. After hearing the result of the talks, one member from Africa wrote “It takes a lot to get an elephant moving, but when you do it is hard to stop…the elephant is moving

Avaaz added this cautionary addendum:

There were some opening champagne in Copenhagen today. The polluting industry lobbyists and corporations — those who have captured our democracies and divided our leaders — celebrated their victory. They operated quietly in the shadows, but their voices were loud in some politicians’ ears. As they drank their champagne their one concern may have been us – the potential of our new people-powered movement. In fact, they’re already launching an attempt to silence us...”

Click here to read more about Avaaz.org and join the movement to “close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want.”

“If the Climate Were a Bank, You Would Have Already Saved it”

If the climate were a bank you would have already saved it.” These were Hugo Chavez’s words at the Copenhagen summit. It’s December 18 and the last day of the international climate summit has arrived. Negotations are in disarray, and it seems that no agreement will be reached. News headlines today read “Disappointment, Disarray” and “Movement But No Breakthrough“. And for its efforts to stall a real deal,  Canada has won the “Colossal Fossil” Award from NGOs and Environmental Groups who said:

“Fossil of the Year goes to CANADA, for bringing a totally unacceptable position into Copenhagen and refusing to strengthen it one bit. Canada’s 2020 target is among the worst in the industrialized world, and leaked cabinet documents revealed that the government is contemplating a cap-and-trade plan so weak that it would put even that target out of reach.

…This government thinks there’s a choice between environment and economy, and for them, tar sands beats climate every time. Canada’s emissions are headed nowhere but up. For all this and more, we name Canada the Colossal Fossil.”

In contrast, here are some voices from Copenhagen speaking out to save the planet:

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wadehe:

Africa is physically threatened. You can see coastal erosion, the fact that lake Chad has shrunk, the Congo basin — a true lung of humanity — has been massacred by European operators…the Sahara desert which, like a steamroller advances toward the south on a broad desert band.

Airam Ramesh, Indian Environment Minister

By trying to shake Kyoto, they (rich nations) are trying to shake one of the basic pillars on which the world had resolved to fight climate change.” (Canada is one of the few industrialized nations whose official policy is to strike down the Kyoto Protocol.)

American Senator John Kerry:

“If (former Vice President) Dick Cheney can argue that even a 1 percent chance of a terrorist attack is 100 percent justification for preemptive action, then surely, when scientists tell us that climate change is nearly a 100 percent certainty, we ought to be able to stand together…and join in an all out effort to combat a mortal threat to the life of this planet.”

*Heavy sigh* What is a concerned citizen of the planet to do? When all else fails, turn to comedians to provide much-needed perspective. At least we’ll do down laughing! In that spirit, check out this “moment of clarity” from funny guy Lee Camp, entitled “God Promises a 30% Increase in Global Warming by 2012 While at Copenhagen Climate Conference“:

Dr. James Hansen on CBC Radio Yesterday

James Hansen is a world renowned climate scientist. He heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. He was one of the first scientists to raise public awareness of climate change when he gave testimony to the U.S. Congress in the late 1980s. Hansen has just written a book “The Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity”.

Hansen was on CBC Radio’s The Current yesterday morning, and presented an interesting perspective on the Copenhagen Conference. He said that a deal in Copenhagen would be worse than nothing at all. The Kyoto Accord is an example of this, Hansen says, as CO2 emissions have been increasing since then. Cap and trade is not the answer – Hansen suggests that cap and trade was cooked up by business as a way to make money, not decrease carbon. A better way to go is to put a gradually rising price on CO2 emissions. This gives people and business an incentive to reduce their carbon footprint and is much faster to implement than cap and trade. It also happens to be the route that British Columbia has already taken. It was an interesting and thought-provoking interview. To hear the interview, click here to go the CBC website and go to “Part 1”.

Copenhagen Day 7 – The Earth Needs Our Prayers

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Copenhagen and around the world this weekend, holding signs that read “There Is No Planet B”, “The World Wants A Real Deal” and “Bla Bla Bla Act Now”,  sending leaders a message that people want a real, binding, and enforceable agreement on climate change. Grown men cried in the UN meetings, pleading for a deal that would save their island nations. The World Council of Churches is calling on churches around the globe to ring the alarm on climate change by ringing their bells  350 times at 3:00 pm local time. As today is Sunday, a day traditionally set aside in North America for spiritual reflection and renewal, I thought it would be appropriate to repost Brian McLaren and Tim Costello‘s Prayer for the Earth.

A Prayer for the Earth

Most gracious God, creator of all good things, we thank you for planet Earth and all creatures that share it.

Have mercy on us, Lord. Through ignorance and carelessness we have poisoned clean air and pure water. For monetary gain we have reduced verdant forests to barren wastes. In our craving for more we have plundered your beloved creation and driven many of our fellow creatures to extinction. Only recently have we begun to realize the dangerous future into which our current patterns of consumption and waste are driving us, especially in relation to Earth’s climate. Only recently have we begun to see our need to find a wiser and better way of life in the future, before it is too late and our choices are limited by the consequences of inaction.

We who join in prayer today believe the time has come, Lord. Please guide us now, our God, at this critical moment in history, to better fulfill our role as stewards of this fragile planet. Guide the leaders of nations who will gather in Copenhagen on Dec. 7. Give them courage to set noble goals that reach beyond short-range political expediency, short-term economic profit, and short-sighted self-interest. Impress upon their conscience our sacred duty to bequeath to our children and grandchildren a healthy and thriving environment rather than a world in climate crisis.

The World Wants A Real Deal Candlelight Vigil

Read moreCopenhagen Day 7 – The Earth Needs Our Prayers

Musings from a Mom on Climate Change

Day 4 into the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, and my initial caption for my posting today was going to be “Living in the Age of Stupid”.  But as I began to write, I remembered that this is the Weekend of Action for a Real Deal around the globe.  Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and grandparents around the world will be gathering en masse to send our leaders a message that the world needs real, binding, and ambitious agreement.  While there are incredibly diverse ways of being human, we have this in common. We are all someone’s son or daughter.  Many of us also have children of our own. My daughters are why I can’t give in to pessimism and hopelessness.  They are worth fighting for.

Recently, I’ve heard skeptics argue that  “fear mongering” regarding the dire planetary emergency we are in should set off warning bells. Fear = untruth seems to be their argument. As a parent, I know when fear is a healthy thing to employ. When my daughters were younger, if one of them went too near a hot stove, I didn’t stand back and point out to her that 1% of people who have touched a hot stove believe that it isn’t harmful. If one of them went near the edge of a precipitous cliff, I didn’t stand back and engage her in debate about the odds of surviving a fall.

California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger explained it like this:

If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say ‘No, he doesn’t, he is fine,’ I will go with the 98. It’s common sense—the same with climate change. We go with the majority, the large majority.”

"I'm with Stupid" Snowmen

Without Vision We Perish

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is in its third day, and so far there’s been enough drama, accusations, and threats to put a soap opera to shame. It would be entertaining, if the health of our planet didn’t hang in the balance. To read more of the details, check out this link or this one.  In thinking about what is at stake, consider these voices that are being drowned out by the drama:

  • In Copenhagen this week, in response to the proposal from developed nations of $10 billion dollars a year to combat climate change, Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, the head of the 135-nation bloc of developing countries, said.

If this is the greatest risk that humanity faces, then how do you explain $10 billion?Ten billion will not buy developing countries’ citizens enough coffins.”

Remember, to date, over $1 trillion dollars has been spent on rescuing financial institutions!

  • Joshua Mukusya is a Kenyan farmer who, 30 years ago, set up the Utooni Development Project (UTP) to help rural families improve food and water security by terracing land, building sand dams and planting trees. The UDP’s motto is “Without Vision We Perish”.

For Mr. Mukusya and other Kenyan farmers, climate change is not a debate, it’s a reality.  These subsistence farmers are trying to adjust to the negative effects of climate change, but it is difficult. Mr. Mukusya states:

The climate is changing—it is very clearThe majority of people here have no resources to cope with the situation. If we don’t make changes, we cannot survive… For us, this is a matter of survival. God created abundant land. We need to find solutions to the destruction we have made for ourselves.”

Africa, the world’s poorest continent, is most at risk because of climate change, yet it is the one that has contributed the least to global warming. To hear more about the situation of Mr. Mukusya and other African farmers, check out the video below.  “Taking the Heat” is a Canadian Foodgrains Bank video about African agriculture and climate change:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IFBhKb6Kkk]

Climate Inaction Costs Lives

Greenpeace sent a message from the Parliament buildings to the Canadian government as well as opposition parties today, as the UN Climate Change Conference begins:

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Send your own message to Prime Minister Harper, Environment Minister Jim Prentice, and/or your own member of parliament.  And don’t forget the opposition leaders, either!