Posts Tagged ‘Copenhagen’

Copenhagen: George Monbiot, Dec. 16/09.

As with the previous post, w. thanks to old buddy Larraine for this link.

& as in the previous post…yet another hero of mine, & his words of wisdom… (& with apologies for any technical incompetence on my part. E.g. if there are links that don’t link, go to the on-line version!!)

From World News Daily, Information Clearing House.

Find it here

Or here it is, below….

Copenhagen Climate Conference

This is Bigger than Climate Change. It is a Battle to Redefine Humanity

It’s hard for a species used to ever-expanding frontiers, but survival depends on accepting we live within limits

By George Monbiot

December 16, 2009 “The Guardian” Dec. 15, 2009 — This is the moment at which we turn and face ourselves. Here, in the plastic corridors and crowded stalls, among impenetrable texts and withering procedures, humankind decides what it is and what it will become. It chooses whether to continue living as it has done, until it must make a wasteland of its home, or to stop and redefine itself. This is about much more than climate change. This is about us.The meeting at Copenhagen confronts us with our primal tragedy. We are the universal ape, equipped with the ingenuity and aggression to bring down prey much larger than itself, break into new lands, roar its defiance of natural constraints. Now we find ourselves hedged in by the consequences of our nature, living meekly on this crowded planet for fear of provoking or damaging others. We have the hearts of lions and live the lives of clerks.

The summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accommodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow.

This is a meeting about chemicals: the greenhouse gases insulating the atmosphere. But it is also a battle between two world views. The angry men who seek to derail this agreement, and all such limits on their self-fulfilment, have understood this better than we have. A new movement, most visible in North America and Australia, but now apparent everywhere, demands to trample on the lives of others as if this were a human right. It will not be constrained by taxes, gun laws, regulations, health and safety, especially by environmental restraints. It knows that fossil fuels have granted the universal ape amplification beyond its Palaeolithic dreams. For a moment, a marvellous, frontier moment, they allowed us to live in blissful mindlessness.

The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.

I fear this chorus of bullies, but I also sympathise. I lead a mostly peaceful life, but my dreams are haunted by giant aurochs. All those of us whose blood still races are forced to sublimate, to fantasise. In daydreams and video games we find the lives that ecological limits and other people’s interests forbid us to live.

Humanity is no longer split between conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and progressives, though both sides are informed by the older politics. Today the battle lines are drawn between expanders and restrainers; those who believe that there should be no impediments and those who believe that we must live within limits. The vicious battles we have seen so far between greens and climate change deniers, road safety campaigners and speed freaks, real grassroots groups and corporate-sponsored astroturfers are just the beginning. This war will become much uglier as people kick against the limits that decency demands.

So here we are, in the land of Beowulf’s heroics, lost in a fog of acronyms and euphemisms, parentheses and exemptions, the deathly diplomacy required to accommodate everyone’s demands. There is no space for heroism here; all passion and power breaks against the needs of others. This is how it should be, though every neurone revolts against it.

Although the delegates are waking up to the scale of their responsibility, I still believe they will sell us out. Everyone wants his last adventure. Hardly anyone among the official parties can accept the implications of living within our means, of living with tomorrow in mind. There will, they tell themselves, always be another frontier, another means to escape our constraints, to dump our dissatisfactions on other places and other people. Hanging over everything discussed here is the theme that dare not speak its name, always present but never mentioned. Economic growth is the magic formula which allows our conflicts to remain unresolved.

While economies grow, social justice is unnecessary, as lives can be improved without redistribution. While economies grow, people need not confront their elites. While economies grow, we can keep buying our way out of trouble. But, like the bankers, we stave off trouble today only by multiplying it tomorrow. Through economic growth we are borrowing time at punitive rates of interest. It ensures that any cuts agreed at Copenhagen will eventually be outstripped. Even if we manage to prevent climate breakdown, growth means that it’s only a matter of time before we hit a new constraint, which demands a new global response: oil, water, phosphate, soil. We will lurch from crisis to existential crisis unless we address the underlying cause: perpetual growth cannot be accommodated on a finite planet.

For all their earnest self-restraint, the negotiators in the plastic city are still not serious, even about climate change. There’s another great unmentionable here: supply. Most of the nation states tussling at Copenhagen have two fossil fuel policies. One is to minimise demand, by encouraging us to reduce our consumption. The other is to maximise supply, by encouraging companies to extract as much from the ground as they can.

We know, from the papers published in Nature in April, that we can use a maximum of 60% of current reserves of coal, oil and gas if the average global temperature is not to rise by more than two degrees. We can burn much less if, as many poorer countries now insist, we seek to prevent the temperature from rising by more than 1.5C. We know that capture and storage will dispose of just a small fraction of the carbon in these fuels. There are two obvious conclusions: governments must decide which existing reserves of fossil fuel are to be left in the ground, and they must introduce a global moratorium on prospecting for new reserves. Neither of these proposals has even been mooted for discussion.

But somehow this first great global battle between expanders and restrainers must be won and then the battles that lie beyond it – rising consumption, corporate power, economic growth – must begin. If governments don’t show some resolve on climate change, the expanders will seize on the restrainers’ weakness. They will attack – using the same tactics of denial, obfuscation and appeals to self-interest – the other measures that protect people from each other, or which prevent the world’s ecosystems from being destroyed. There is no end to this fight, no line these people will not cross. They too are aware that this a battle to redefine humanity, and they wish to redefine it as a species even more rapacious than it is today.


12 2009

Copenhagen: Bill McKibben, Dec. 15/09.

From World News Daily, Information Clearing House (w. thanks to old buddy Larraine for sending me this link. McKibben has been one of my heroes for some years now……)

“Copenhagen: Only the Numbers Count – and They Add up to Hell on Earth”

You can find it here

Here is the text:

Climate Interactive’s software speaks numbers, not spin – which is where the true understanding of the Copenhagen summit lies

By Bill McKibben

December 15, 2009 “The Guardian” – – The Bella centre is a swirl of chatter, the streets of Copenhagen are a swirl of protest. Depending on what hour you listen to the news bulletin, the UN climate negotiations have “come off the rails” or are “back on track” or have “stalled” or are “moving swiftly”. Which is why the only people who really understand what’s going on may be a small crew of folks from a group of computer jockeys called Climate Interactive. Their software speaks numbers, not spin – and in the end it’s the numbers that count.First number to know: 350. It’s what scientists have been saying for two years is the maximum amount of carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million. Those scientists have been joined by an unprecedented outpouring from civil society: in late October, activists put on what CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history,” with 5,200 demonstrations in 181 countries, all rallying around that number. Three thousand vigils last weekend across the planet spelled out the number in candles. Thousands of churches rang their bells 350 times on Sunday, and yesterday the World Parliament of Religions, meeting in Melbourne and representing the “largest interreligious gathering on earth” sent an emergency 350 declaration here to Copenhagen.

The second number: 100. That’s (roughly) how many countries are backing a 350 target here at Copenhagen. That’s more than half the nations in attendance – unfortunately, they’re the small, poor ones. But it’s amazing to see them, in the face of enormous pressure, keeping the idea of real action alive. Yesterday Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, spoke to a roaring crowd of thousands: “We know what the laws of physics say: the most important number in the world is 350.”

The third number: 4%. That’s how much the US is offering to cut its emissions from their 1990 levels by 2020. Scientists tell us that the developed world would need to reduce by at least 40% to get us back on a 350 track, so the American offer is exactly an order or magnitude off. And they’re not alone. All the rich countries, not to mention China, are looking to do as little as possible and still escape here with some kind of agreement they can hide behind.

The fourth number – and the most important one. When the folks at Climate Interactive plug in every promise made at these talks (the American offer on the table, the Chinese promise to reduce “energy intensity”, the EU pledges, and so on) their software tells them almost instantly how much carbon they would eventually produce. When they hit the button last night, the program showed that by 2100 the world’s CO2 concentrations (currently 390) would be – drumroll please – 770. That is, we would live in hell, or at least a place with a similar temperature.

So that’s the scorecard. You may hear a lot of happy talk from world leaders over the next few days as they “reach a historic agreement”. But that’s how it all adds up.

Bill McKibben is the coordinator of


12 2009

Copenhagen Dec. 16th: Police Brutality

“I had never seen police beat people and seen the frightening orange glow of tear gas before in my life.

Today I marched in the ‘Reclaim Power’ march, an event that meant to symbolize the opening of the UN negotiations, which had previously been closed to most civil society groups at these critical negotiations.

I’m not naive. I’ve marched in protests in the past, and thoroughly enjoyed the bringing together of people from so many different walks of life in the favour of one cause, though always aware that these situations could turn unfortunate for a variety of reasons.

I was not prepared for today. Within minutes of arriving at the Bella Centre with the “yellow” block of the march (the block that was meant to be the peaceful, non-confrontational section making up of NGOs and intergovernmental groups), violence broke out.”

This is the opening of a blog post by young Torontonian Jasmeet Sidhu, who is in Copenhagen & blogging for the Toronto Star.

Please go here to read the rest of her post & watch a short YouTube at the site so disturbing it had me shouting “F— you!!” at a brutish Danish police officer.

I still have tears running down my cheeks.

What can be so wrong with wanting a sane & just world that political leaders & police are prepared to beat up young (& very likely old, or any) people in their excessive zeal to shut them/us up?

Sorry. I just can’t seem to “get” this…


P.S. Thank you so much, Jasmeet, for being there & for telling (and showing) us the truth. Thank you also to your fellow youth delegates, Yvonne Su and Adam MacIsaac, for their video footage.


12 2009

Civil Disobedience: Why did we occupy Fin. Minister’s Office?

I’ve blogged twice recently about an act of civil disobedience I took part in last week, & do hope I’ve convinced some usually “polite” people to consider acting &/or speaking up themselves.

For information about doing direct action, you can go to Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice

I’ve just realized I ought to have said more about why we did what we did!?

Seven of us sat chained together in Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty’s office for the day & were willing to be arrested because:

  • We know climate change is the single most urgent threat facing our world.
  • We wanted to send a very strong message to the Harper government about the need to take ACTION on climate change – not stall & prevent global action/solutions at the Copenhagen meetings.
  • We know the Harper government’s finance minister Jim Flaherty controls the federal government’s purse strings.
  • We wanted to call on Flaherty & his government to finance the solutions to climate change – & climate justice – not continue subsidizing the tar sands (home of the world’s dirtiest oil).

The results of our actions? Impossible to pin down – but I do think this action (& others like it) have the potential to demonstrate to very different constituencies of people that:

(a) the issue of climate change is indeed mind-bogglingly urgent, & recognizably so, to vast numbers of Canadians/youth/world citizens &

(b) those of us protesting are not unruly, unreasonable or violence-prone; we are sensible, concerned, passionate people committed to action on climate change, & also to spreading the word about the need for climate justice. (Visit for information about why we in the well-off, developed countries have a moral obligation to fund solutions in the poorer countries, the ones bearing the brunt of climate change impacts.)

Groups you can check out for their work on climate change & their take on & participation in the Copenhagen experience:

The KYOTOplus coalition – “A Canadian public engagement campaign to support an urgent solution to the global warming crisis” – consists of over 120 environmental & social justice groups – & many thousands of individual citizens – who have signed the KYOTOplus petition.

Check it out at

Here is what Canadian writer/blogger/filmmaker & activist extraordinaire, Guy Dauncey, has said:

“The message, so firmly, is – don’t give up. Don’t hang with the cynics, the angry-hearted, the whiners, the blamers, the negative minded. Hang with those who believe in love, hope, and beauty – and then work with them to make this a reality. This is our planet. This is our time. This is our call to action.” ~ Guy Dauncey, author of The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming

For suggestions of things you can do about climate change, please consider reading the blog post ‘Copenhagen Primer’. Skip lots of the “chat” if you prefer, & scroll down to near the end, where practical suggestions are offered.


P.S.  This blog is my own. I am not representing or speaking here on behalf of any other groups to which I belong – just me, myself & I. Any screw-ups are mine alone!?

P.P.S. Other blog posts about the sit-in are found at Busted for Climate Justice!; Civil Disobedience Rocks!! 10 Observations & Dear Judge: Comfort Zones & Climate Change.

P.P.P.S. Here is a fine quotation about disobedience: “You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can’t get there, obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate masters, and Nature destroyers. We can’t get there, kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn’t disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth.” Richard Grossman


12 2009

Copenhagen “Primer”: A must watch!! **

<November 13/09>

** Please skip straight ahead to the P.S.’s at the end if you think there’s no point in even trying to wrestle with climate change, or that “People aren’t ready to change,” so why bother? (Thoughts/sentiments I myself have entertained at times, admittedly.) Elizabeth May spoke to this very eloquently at the event I describe here… Start with that, if need be, hmm?

I’m sort of writing this item backward…  I’m going to tell you upfront what I recommend that you do – then explain why, afterward. That way, you can skip all my unnecessary “chat” if you prefer (I know I’m inclined to be too wordy) & just cut to the chase.

So – please go here & watch this YouTube of Elizabeth May’s November 9th [2009] talk at City Hall in Toronto about climate change/peak oil/the importance of the upcoming Copenhagen meetings.

It will tell you:

  • how it is youth – from all over the globe – who are leading the way on the need for climate action – not our so-called “leaders” (i.e., the elected politicians – particularly the ones in Canada!?!?!?);
  • why the upcoming December Copenhagen meetings are so absolutely pivotal;
  • how awesome the October 24th International Day of Climate Action – sponsored by the group – turned out to be (especially in Canada!!);
  • how successful (& strategic) the use of the number 350 in the group name is – & why it has played out so well all over the world;
  • the long history behind global climate meetings & how the Copenhagen meetings have been coming for years now & present a challenge & opportunity that must not be missed (the very first time an emissions “target” was set was in June 1988, in Toronto, at an early climate conference. Who knew??)(1);
  • why we need to stop thinking of ourselves as “consumers” & think (& behave) instead as CITIZENS;
  • why the simple act of voting bears huge consequences & why not voting as a “protest” has absolutely the opposite effect to that we desire;
  • why climate “criminals” must be stopped & why there is a need for us to respond repeatedly to the endless (& yes, criminal) drivel the climate crisis denial industry puts out on Web sites, blogs & in letters to the editor;
  • about the failure of our national news media to keep us informed about what is really going on;
  • specific, simple things you can do to help make our own local Canadian climate laggard/criminal, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, clean up his act & behave responsibly vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

Okay, now for the background chat…

Elizabeth May is leader of the Green Party in Canada. Her talk at Toronto’s City Hall last Monday night (November 9th – the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, btw) was sponsored by Post Carbon Toronto, the Toronto peak oil action group.

I’ve heard Ms. May speak many times now. She is one of the most intelligent, articulate, capable & committed activists I’ve ever had the great privilege to meet.

She speaks well, without prepared notes, & does so with passion, energy & humour. She can run rings around any of her fellow politicians.

(An older woman I know, one who is not, shall we say, by any stretch of the imagination, a “Greenie,” once said to me she thinks Elizabeth is smarter than all her political opponents put together. I also know an 88-year old woman who told me she would “deliver” 50 votes to the Green Party in her north-of-Toronto town of Newmarket, Ontario. One feisty & intelligent woman who recognizes & supports another… Hurray for feisty, strong, passionate women, say I!!!!)

Elizabeth also has “the common touch.” She’s not the slightest bit snooty, distant or superior.

She’s an awesome woman & politician who “gets” that if we all begin to behave like citizens instead of “consumers” – & pressure our politicians to serve us the way they ought to be doing (that is to say, on our behalf; what a concept, hmm??) – this sucker could maybe still be turned around.

Did you know that in Canada we hosted the largest # of events for the October 24th/International Day of Climate Action? And that our global news media failed to inform Canadians of this proud distinction?

Did you know that the first time an international group of scientists met to discuss “Our Changing Atmosphere: Implications on Global Security” – & the need to set targets on global C02 emissions – was in Toronto, in June 1988?

Maybe not, hmmm?

So take an hour & watch the YouTube, alright?

Turn off the TV, tune in your brain, & allow Elizabeth May to inspire you.

Canadians are invited to go to the following link to get the name of their local Member of Parliament (MP) – & then to call/write/e-mail (or all of the above!) her/him & say it’s time for climate action.

Find your MP here

And/or specifically, pressure our Liberal MP’s to enact Bill C-311 now – not delay it.

For an update on this critical Bill, go here

If you haven’t already signed the KyotoPlus petition, please learn about it & do so here

If you Facebook, you can go here

for plenty more information about Elizabeth May’s Green Party activities/policies.

Even if we were all to exert a tiny fraction of the energy Elizabeth May expends routinely in every hour of the day, we could move mountains! I’m not kidding!!


P.S. Regular readers of my blog (if there are any!?) know I myself have written recently about a growing lack of hope.

I really like the way Elizabeth dealt with this in her talk.

She said, for one thing, that our parents didn’t know ahead of time what the outcome of the war on Hitler was going to be…did they? They knew he had to be defeated – or, at the very least, fought – so off they went, risking their lives, in so many cases losing their lives – & here we all are now. This resonates rather hugely for me, being the daughter of a man who was a bomber pilot in World War II. Not a nice man, & that’s another story altogether. Fact is, he did “go to war” & he did survive, & I’m here living my cushy little life because of this. So…

Point # 2, as regards “People not being ready” to make the necessary changes to deal effectively with climate change & the risks of “runaway” climate change. One word. Lead. Were people “ready” to have lead removed from gasoline? Of course not; it wasn’t a question of individual, personal readiness. Legislators acted, lead was taken out of gasoline, & on we all went.

What is required is political action. We need laws, & we will adapt. End of story. Except to add that “political will” does not emanate from politicians. It is we citizens who must speak up & create it. We must make our so-called “leaders” lead. We need to get very noisy with them!!

(1) “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war. The Earth’s atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities, inefficient and wasteful fossil fuel use, and the effects of rapid population growth in many regions. These changes represent a major threat to international security and are already having harmful consequences over many parts of the globe.” Statement by WMO, UNEP, and Environment Canada at ‘The Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security’ conference, Toronto, June 1988.


11 2009

October 24th: We’re ALL Invited!

[This is a column written for my local, small town newspaper in eastern Ontario, Canada.]

Well-known figures Dr. James Hansen, Vandana Shiva, David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, George Monbiot, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bianca Jagger all have something in common besides the fact that their names are recognized around the world.

All are keen supporters of a new initiative called, whose “mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis — to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.”

This group is planning to encourage lots of “noise” all over the globe on October 24th – and they want all of us to take part.

This December, the United Nations will be in Copenhagen for two weeks of meetings aimed at creating a new global treaty for fighting climate change. The targets they come up with may not be ambitious enough, given the new awareness that climate change is advancing more quickly than previously thought.

From the 350 group’s Web site: “The Arctic is sending us perhaps the clearest message that climate change is occurring much more rapidly than scientists previously thought. In the summer of 2007, sea ice was roughly 39% below the summer average for 1979-2000, a loss of area equal to nearly five United Kingdoms. Many scientists now believe the Arctic will be completely ice free in the summertime between 2011 and 2015, some 80 years ahead of what scientists had predicted just a few years ago. Propelled by the news of these accelerating impacts, some of the world’s leading climate scientists have now revised the highest safe level of CO2 to 350 parts per million. That’s the…safety zone for planet earth. As James Hansen of America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the first scientist to warn about global warming more than two decades ago, wrote recently, ‘If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.’”

The 350 group has come together globally to raise awareness among citizens, but most particularly to gain the attention of politicians. Citizen awareness is often considerably ahead of that of the politicians who create the policies we “regular folks” then must live with.

The 350 plan: “In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we’re harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009.  We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world – from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community – and a clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.  If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.”

According to Canadian organizer Aiden of the group planning “100,000 on the Hill,” (yes, Parliament Hill in Ottawa), there are already more than 1000 events planned in 50 countries.

So, we have lots of options! We can plan an event (or events) in our own communities – or we can fill up a busload (or two!) and be part of the 100,000 people crowd at Parliament Hill in Ottawa [Ontario, Canada], letting our politicians know that Canadians do want to take action on climate change. (Contact for more information on that initiative.)

There is a wealth of information on the Web site, from an invitation and short YouTubes you can circulate to friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – to scientific materials and inspirational ideas for fun activities to plan for October 24th.

I saw the phrase “Talk – Action = Zero” used in an ad recently, and that really spoke to me. It’s true, isn’t it?

As the site says: “Will this thing work? Will world leaders listen? Only if we’re loud enough.”

We need to be sure our voices are heard!


Accompanying Quotation: “Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi


06 2009