Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Other Voices

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 (Day 2 for DH): I guess the theme of the day would be “Other Voices”. Took the wonderful and easy-to-navigate public transportation into the city. Upon deboarding, one is greeted by a sculpture of three 10-meter high sculptures representing African refugees fleeing the droughts and floods that have made their homeland inhabitable. This is one of many art installations entitled SevenMeters (check out the website for more information). As we walked toward the Bella Center, there are bands of red alert signs/LED lights mounted at 7 meters representing the waterline if all of the Greenland icesheet where to melt. 24km of these!

There are also climate refugees in the canal – gaunt and eerie that are lit up with blue lights at night (see Steve’s earlier post and picture).

Note all the bikes - many which are available to "rent" for free. Bike trails are everywhere and the trains have places to park your bikes.

Next I encountered some Asian demonstrators – giving reasons why it is good to go vegetarian. The impact of raising, processing and transporting livestock food on the planet is great and a major contributor to greenhouse gas emission.

I went to a panel entitled “Indigenous peoples’ assessment of the current negotiations: Issues and ways forward in Copenhagen”. Groups represented included Chirapaq, the Manyoito Pastoralists, Integrated Development Organization, UNPFII, Tebtebba, EMRIP, the Kanak Agency for Development, the Alaska Native Science Commission, and the international Arctic Council. If you don’t want to look all those up, they represented the Peru and other regions of Latin America, Africa, the Philippines, the Pacific islands, and, of course, Alaska, If you are not convinced that climate change is real, I don’t know how you would explain the fact that Alaskan villages are having to physically move, that traditional cultivation and hunting practices are failing because of loss of sea ice, major droughts, or extreme weather events that are flooding out entire island nations. This was an incredibly emotional session to hear people describe their close connection to the land (it is part of the physical and spiritual being in ways that most of us in the developed world can’t understand) and the thought of having to change their practices that are both their stories, their culture and a part of who they are as individuals—their very identify— was heart-wrenching to hear about. And the whole story is made even worse by the facts that a) they haven’t caused the problems; b) they can’t do anything about planetary changes; and c) their voice is marginalized in the international negotiations on climate change.

“Land is life” is a slogan of the indigenous people and a principle that we should consider more seriously. I found it fascinating that each speaker began with greetings from their peoples and a blessing to the land and all it provides. (Never heard that at a scientific conference in my entire career!) And as someone who has become involved in adaptive management of ecosystems undergoing restoration, it was interesting to hear the lessons from these individuals who have thought deeply about ecosystem interactions and the place of humans in nature. They now question why climate scientists focus on the atmosphere or maybe the oceans, but not the entire ecosystem and all of the interplays. We could learn much from these people.

This brought to mind some friends that I grew up with who hadn’t taken science courses but hunted and new the cycles of nature and the patterns of the animals better than any ecologist.

I then went with Laura Caroline Smith (MC ’09) downtown to the Klimaforum09 – the People’s Climate Summit. (The alternative forum.) We were going to hear Vandana Shiva but her flight was cancelled. Listened instead to a presentation by Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity without growth; Economics for a Fragile Planet . Very interesting perspectives on the connections between GNP, life expectancy and happiness and the concept of “degrowth”.

Some demonstrations at the alternative forum.

Wandered back to the center train station and then to the Bella Center.

Some info-mercials on the metro (subway).

The last major event of the day was to head to a premiere of a photography exhibit “Consequences” sponsored by Greenpeace, Noor, and others. Nine of the world’s top photographers worked over the past two – three months to gather photos from around the world. See:

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International was the host and had some wonderful words to share. Perhaps the phrase of the day: "It ain't over until the thin man from Washington sings."
One of the photographers, Francesco Zizola of Italy, spoke for the group.

There was a powerful video of the collection which was also mounted on the ceiling of the “globe” of the Climate Rescue Center. Then a celebration of classical music by a Danish duet (flute and organ).

After a relaxing dinner of lasagna and salad, it was back on the train to KØge for some R&R.

Some additional demonstration images of the day:

Merhilda - from the Climate Fossil of the Day. We were discussing an upcoming youth demonstration with Desmond Tutu.

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