Evo Morales spent 10 minutes of his high-level speech decrying the confusion and disorganization unique to the Copenhagen talks. It is strangely reassuring when a well-known head of state feels the need to continue in this vein for nearly a quarter of an hour. Throughout the last two weeks, I had no idea what was happening; I was lost, confused, and upset that I could not contribute more. I couldn’t make heads or tails of my situation; I stood in long lines and was daily criminalized; and when I finally understood the process, I was booted out of it along with the rest of civil society because someone had not adequately capped the number of accredited observers. Police arrested peaceful demonstrators, invaded the university, surrounded crowds and then bludgeoned them–generally for no real reason, other than the fact that no one knew what was happening.
I walked away from this feeling like a total failure, but when I compared stories with everyone else on my delegation, and in the youth movement, we all felt the same way. The feeling was absolutely universal, for civil society and party members and heads of state alike. Evo Morales was confused, Obama left with an air of depression, and even the Secretariat of the UNFCCC was beginning to show the signs of strain when he confronted a crowd of angry protestors who had been blocked from entering the Bella Center.
I support YOUNGO, but I am not sure we were any better organized. There were no systems in place, no method of response, no chain of command. There were so many of us that we either overlapped roles and got in each others’ way, or else we sat around bored with nothing to do. If you had an idea, someone had already thought of it. If you wanted to take leadership of a project, someone more experienced would already be in charge of it. Thus, for 85% of participants, our role seemed to be confined solely to standing around, showing strength in numbers.
Maybe that was part of the reason we failed as a planet. No one knew what to do, and it was impossible to take charge.
Our hostel didn’t make matters much less confusing. We were denied wifi access (all other hostels in the region seemed to provide this) and habitually treated condescendingly by the staff, like elementary school kids. I have written a scathing review right here, if you would like to hear the obscene details.
I don’t have a lot to go back to in Cincinnati. I had hoped that Copenhagen might somehow point me in the right direction, but that seems to have just been part of the larger Hopenhagen pipe dream. I do have a renewed sense of mission–it really is time to reach out, raise awareness, and start a movement. Not a hippie movement; I’ve had enough of that over the last two weeks. No, I mean that we have to mobilize citizenry to start thinking of money-saving alternatives to insane consumption and to start thinking across national borders. We need greater participation in the local system rather than this confounded Rube Goldberg machine that we call globalization. We need to find our pleasures and our meaning in the smaller aspects of life–not our brand-name clothes, not our number of Christmas presents, not our meaningless but well-paid occupation in corporate America. My sense is that it is time to love and forgive, heal old wounds, and make peace with life, because we don‘t know what tomorrow is going to look like, or indeed if such a thing exists.
This will be my last entry. This blog has served it’s purpose; I hope one day someone can use it as a reference on how to run a one-woman show, on the UNFCCC process, or what to expect at a COP. It may also be read as a testament to human failure and futility.
I don’t want to leave you on such a fatalistic note. Instead, I want you to join me. Get involved in a local group. Write to your lawmakers. Send me a message! Reach out to other people and get them involved–they need you. Help me in my ambition to live and die with dignity.