Tuesday, November 15, 2016

First time at a COP

This is my first experience of a COP, and I did not know how important COP22 would be when I signed on back in August. I'm part of the Moravian College group led by Diane Husic and Hilde Binford. I'm an observer, and much of this is over my head, but here are some impressions of my first day (Nov. 14)
The conference is an amazing tent city, with tents the size of small warehouses. I have been to lots of conferences in my life, but nothing like this. I am simply overwhelmed by the organizational skill it takes to manage a conference on this scale. I have been to several international conferences, but never to one that is so truly international. The exhibition tents have displays from many different countries highlighting the effective ways that they are addressing the problem of carbon emissions. The United States exhibit includes information from NASA. They are using satellites and the international space station to gather data and images that clearly show the increased carbon in the atmosphere and the rising temperature of the world’s oceans. One of the most beautiful displays was digitally enhanced film of all the world’s oceans where you can see the currents flowing with different water temperatures. NASA makes this information freely available online for anyone in the world. At least for now.
Morocco seems to be an incredible host. At the second session I attended Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco spoke. She is President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection and is the sister of the current king.  The heads of UNESCO and UNFCCC also spoke at that session. One of the speakers talked about the importance of education in helping people recognize that the problems of the world are their problems. He was not talking simply about putting climate change information in the science curriculum, but the important role that the liberal arts play in helping people think critically and engaged other cultures and people with empathy. Representatives of the youth delegates to COP22 presented a strong plea that climate change information be included in all school curricula in every country at every level of education and that the scientific information be readily available in every country. Most of the discussion was about making this information accessible in poor, rural countries that do not have access to advanced technologies.
What depressed me was the fact that in my country this information is readily available, but school boards and now even the federal government try to keep it out of school curricula. The whole world is coming together to combat climate change while the United States continues to resist the overwhelming scientific evidence that the globe is warming, the climate is changing, and carbon emissions are the primary cause. One presenter researched the effect of education on people’s view of the environment and willingness to change their behaviors. He found that in almost every country the higher a person’s educational level the more aware they are of climate change and how to prevent it. The one exception is the United States where the most educated people are radically polarized in their view of the science and the need for action.

1 comment:

  1. Here in the U.S., it sometimes seems that most people are living in a fantasy world.

    The working class is disgusted with 'business as usual' politics and the queen of neoliberal politics, so they elect an elitist clown whose pledges — reducing taxes for the rich, cutting regulations, deporting 'millions' of immigrants, building a wall to separate the U.S. & Mexico, clamping down on free speech… — can only hurt those same people. Maybe they'll wake up soon, but in the meantime, we will all suffer, as will the ecosystem of planet Earth.