Friday, December 11, 2009

Anarchy in the Morning

Apologies for the less-than-punctual blog posts, but I do hope you’ll believe me when I say that things have been a bit crazy over here in the COP 15 Bella Center bubble. I haven’t been outside of the center for more than 3 hours a day since the conference began on Monday and am beginning to understand in more depth what people mean by ‘fried’ when referring to a mental state. Politics are endless, exhausting, circular, absurd – especially on this level.

The past 5 days have been packed with all sorts of action. The topic of conversation within the US youth recently has been the statement made by Lord Monckton of the UK at an Americans for Prosperity meeting which we crashed a couple days ago (video here) calling us 'crazed Hitler youth' - this has been projected everywhere from the UK Guardian to Now Magazine in Canada and the YouTube video has 18,000 views. I'm kind of proud that something that I filmed has been viewed so many times (even though I really am not a fan of the edit, which I didn't do). Although ideally the youth climate movement would get this kind of attention for the action that we're taking towards it's great if we can put a face to the climate-denier movement. I'm really interested to see how things pan out over the next few days.

One thing that I’ve found really challenging since I’ve been here is trying to grasp the scale of the process that I’ve found myself somewhat in the middle (but really watching from the edges) of. The realization that around 200 people are supposedly representing the views and desires of 6.6 billion is absolutely absurd, not to mention the fact that in reality about 20 of those 200 are really pulling the strings in the game. This frightens me, and to be frank, it's just plain fucked up.

One thing I love about this blog is that I can be entirely (sometimes probably too much so...) honest. That's what I've done in the past and that's what I will continue to do. That being said, I have to say that being here in Copenhagen and understanding more about the weight of the decisions being made here is really freaking me out. I will likely never be able to grasp the process of international politics in it's entirely (and am beginning to think that everyone who says they understand it is just a really good bullshitter), but what I do feel like I understand is that this issue ('climate change' or however you want to call it), it's causes, effects and implications essentially encompass every issue that we face and every issue that we will deal with for the next century. Now I hate being told what to care about or what kind of action I should take on a particular issue, but to be honest this is one thing that I want every single person in the entire world to be thinking about. This is not an issue of climate change. This is not about green jobs, aggressive mitigation, saving climate refugees, ensuring food security or even saving the environment. How can I say what I feel in so many words? I likely never will be able to. But I guess what I'm realizing is that this 'movement' (I hate that term...) is not about one thing, or even 5 things - it is about the system that we exist in, the system that created us and the system that we depend upon intrinsically. I don't know. This is just what has been on my mind as of late, and at the moment I feel so fried and ready to give all this critical thinking a rest that I might just leave it at that. All I know is that we have created a system in which a two week period of time and a gathering of 200 people is going to decide much of the future of the world, and that is just plain bass ackwards. This world is so much more beautifully complicated than we give it credit for.

I cannot imagine what will happen over the next week. Oh lawdy. This world is so strange. I promise to blog more this coming week, as I really want you all to know what's going on inside this absurd bubble I've found myself in. How on earth did I get here?

Also, if you have something you think the US should be doing regarding climate change, please tell me. The youth have an amazing line into the Obama administration at this point and it seems as though they are actually listening to us (I wish I had made time to tell you all about the fucking awesome presence we have had in every single State Department debriefing and the meetings we've been having with Jonathan Pershing and Todd Stern...holy lord...) and I want to know what you guys think. Just saying.

Looking forward to enjoying the tail-end of the holidays with you all. Nothing like coming home.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Copenhagen Yesterday!

Hello again cyber family! It’s been a while, huh? As in 7 months…no mind…well, it’s currently 5:40am here in Copenhagen and I awoke about 20 minutes ago plagued by thoughts of what could possibly transpire here over the next 2 weeks and I couldn’t help but write about it. As many of you know (I hope) today marks the beginning of the UN Climate Change Negotiations (referred to as COP 15 for Conference of Parties 15) taking place here in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over 190 countries will be represented and it’s estimated that around 40,000 observers will be attending the conference, both inside and outside of the actual negotiations. The negotiations are scheduled to last until December 18th though they will likely spill over into the weekend of the 19th. I will be here blogging and doing video updates (which the photo from above is from - our first one!) on what’s going on from my perspective and the perspective of the other US and international youth who are attending the conference.

The fact that I am here and will be inside the negotiations for the next 15 days is more surreal to me than I can possibly describe. What began as a whimsical idea in August quickly became a reality as I joined the COP 15 team within the Cascade Climate Network and made the decision that I would be here, no matter what it would take. Turns out it would take a few painstaking conference calls, a mad dash over the past 5 weeks to finish the term 10 days early (luckily I won’t know what my grades are until I return…), fundraising letters, and a whole heap of incredibly supportive professors, family and friends. I really can’t thank everyone enough for contributing to my efforts to get here.

As a city, Copenhagen is stunning so far. The Danes are some of the nicest Europeans that exist (and have a sense of humor that the French seem to have missed out on…), and they have a predilection for pickled fish, rye bread and alcohol, therefore we get along quite well. Their way of life just seems to make sense. Or at least it makes sense with the exception of the whole “go out at 12:30am and party til 6am” thing…I don’t quite get that, but give me a week or so – I’ll do some investigating and report back. The couple that’s hosting me is awesome – they’re both 30, he works for the Danish Ministry of Education and she works for an NGO that does energy efficiency work. They have a sweet apartment (in which literally everything is from Ikea, I shit you not) in the middle of the trendy ‘formally-red-light-district-but-still-kind-of-red-light-district-but-we-ignore-that-and-open-wine-bars-next-to-sex-shops’ neighborhood, so I feel right at home.

I need to briefly apologize for my writing, as it’s been months since I’ve written anything anyone has had to read with the exception of a few essays. I don’t doubt that my writing will be pretty rough over the next few days but hopefully I’ll get back into it (plus, knowing my father, he will be sending me edits to my blog posts, so that always helps). Though for those of you know who know how my blog has traditionally been it will likely be more like my mental diarrhea translated onto a blog. Awesome.

I will also be posting blogs and video updates to the Cascade Climate Network blog: so feel free to follow along there and pass my blog on to anyone who might be interested! One of my biggest goals with being here is to connect people at home with what’s going on at the negotiations and to convey how important the decisions being made here are. For all of the youth who are here (over 500 US and 1000 international), we are here out of our own desire to change the way things are working in our governments. The vast majority of us are not paid and are in school (my GPA suffers in solidarity! Viva!) and have made sacrifices to be here. I’m sure I’ll go on a rant about this all later, but for now, I’m going to go get myself ready for the madness…