As we sit in Oksnehallen Hall, we are keenly aware that, unless a miracle happens within the next several hours, the talks at Bella Center have all but failed.  I don’t care if I’m being too negative–that’s the truth, and everyone here can sense it.   

We have tried to protest–which is not always easy to do when you are denied access to your own leaders and delegates.  We formed a giant crowd dressed as our heads of state (I was Angela Merckl for some reason)–a giant wall of shame.

 

Others of us protested by shaving their heads–to shock the world with “sudden change”, show the ugliness of the UN negotiations, or show the level of committment and a willingness to sacrifice needed to avert global catastrophe, depending on who you ask.

We were also planning on having a candle-light vigil in front of Oksnehallen, arially spelling out the words “CLIMATE SHAME”.  The police, who have been generally awful to NGOs and protestors over the last two weeks, have refused.  No reason was given.  I am truly disgusted.

I can now hear the sound of many rotors.  Fact–helicopters have been circling KlimaForum for the last several days…criminalizing the folks who just want to make the world a better place.  Maybe they should be circling the Bella Center instead, seeing that that’s where the criminals are.

No Food

Yesterday I fasted in solidarity with the Climate Justice fasters and those who will go hungry as a result of climate change.

Maybe it was because I didn’t eat that my day seemed to be a lot worse than it actually was; I don’t know, but I won’t bore you with the details. I will, however, bore you with my discussion of the candle-light vigil.

Since we have been effectively booted from the Bella Center and whole UN process at this point, we have commandeered a hall at a the University that is hosting KlimaForum. It’s almost as good–there is a reasonably-priced food venue, chairs, internet service, and giant screens with the ongoing negotiations projected on them. This was where we held the candle-light vigil last night. It was from 5-7, but I showed up quite late due to some of the drama that happened earlier in the day.

Anna, who has been fasting for 43 days, said a few remarks as did a representative from an AOSIS state. We lit candles and formed the words “Climate Justice” out of them. There were candles everywhere. They filled the dark room with light and warmth. It was beautiful.

It was a time for quiet contemplation, but I didn’t have much time to reflect. Call me a wimp, but the lack of food made me feel perpetually awful yesterday, culminating with a throbbing headache, nausea, fever, and chills by the end of the day. I felt like I was about 100 pounds heavier than I am, and could hardly stand up by 10:00 pm (I’m better now). I habitually don’t eat on some days, but this was by far the worst. My admiration to those who, like Anna, have been fasting since early November. I guess that is sort of a physical type of contemplation, though; people the world over feel perpetually hungry and rotten like this…maybe one day there will be a global crop failure and I too will go through the same. Maybe everyone should be required to fast and then be told that if they don’t change their ways, they’re not likely to have a choice next time.

The solidarity fasters were certainly not alone. Many prominent people chose to support us as well, including Naomi Klein, the many delegates from AOSIS and African nations, and of course my heroes Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben and President Mohamed Nasheed. To participate in something when your heroes are right there next to you really makes you feel like a part of something larger, and even though it sucked at the time, I am glad we went through with it.

Go us!!

I hope you have heard it in the news by now, what happened at the Americans For Prosperity “Hot Air” press conference last night.  It’s been all over the blogosphere, twitter, and traditional media outlets.  It was kind of important.

In short, we crashed it.  We OWNED it.  SustainUS developed the plan and executed it with about 20-30 other American youth taking part.  Basically, we caught wind of an climate change deniers’ conference being put on in the region.  Our grassroots committee organized a brief action around it, and we went undercover to the talks, dressed as the respectable adults we are.  Watch the video to find out what happened…IT WAS ON LIVE, TELECAST TELEVISION!!!

After the action, apparently there were only about 5 people left in the room.  I did not personally take part because I was pretty sure my pink hair would raise a red flag.  But I watched the results.  Oh how I watched the results.

Interested in more?  Here are some more resources:

  • Hilarious article by Americans For Prosperity.  We flew all the way over just to disrupt their conference, yes.
  • Newspaper article (based on our press release)
  • The Huffington Post’s article about Americans For Prosperity’s background
  • It’s Getting Hot in Here’s blog about our action!
  • Rachael’s notes on the event (also on It’s Getting Hot in Here)
  • On the blog Climate Progress: another look

The word is now that this footage might get sent to Glenn Beck–always an honor if that person uses you as a bad example.  I’m not sure I want my 15 minutes of fame to be Glenn Beck making fun of me and everything I stand for, though, so maybe just as well I didn’t stop in.

The fallout remains to be seen.  Calling someone “Hitler Youth”, especially a racially and ethnically diverse group, seems both desparate and highly inappropriate, however.  *GOLDEN*.

Something you hear a lot of in my line of work is that humans are not evolutionarily equipped to deal with a life-long dangers like climate change.  We are geared towards immediate emergencies, like attacking lions and tigers and bears.  If you read enough articles about the state of our planet, you’ll eventually come across this sentiment.  The Age of Stupid even uses it at one point. 

It makes sense, right?  People tend to act according to short-term needs; this I do not dispute.  But I want you to forget about the nonsense about humans being evolutionarily unequipped to do certain things.  I say so on several grounds.

First, we’re NOT unequipped to deal with long-term dangers and other such issues.  Our entire existence as human beings is built upon agriculture–why did people develop agriculture?  So that they and their families wouldn’t be in danger of starving next year.  Why do people buy houses?  It makes no sense to me.  You have to fork over tens of thousands of dollars and are bound to the bank for the next ten or twenty years–but people do it as a long-term investment, so that they will not have to live with the constant worry of paying rent, and can instead achieve equity and prosper.  Why did Dubai go way out on a limb, spend billions on skyscrapers, and trash the local culture?  Because they dreamed of a better future for themselves.  It doesn’t matter in any of these scenarios that there are short-term challenges, hard work, and disadvantages–the future is more important.  So don’t tell me humans aren’t equipped to avoid long-term dangers and achieve long-term dreams, because I don’t believe you.

I also don’t like the thought of experts telling other people what they are and are not likely to be capable of.  “You’re not biologically equipped to deal with this situation, ma’am,” an evolutionary psychologist tells me.  With tears in my eyes, I give up and go sit down in the corner to waste away.  Way to set folks up for failure–tell them what they’re not good at.

I believe, in fact, that such ideas are a misuse of science.  I have no problem with studying human beings in light of evolution, but too often, it seems to justify our cultural perceptions of ourselves.  “Men are biologically designed to cheat” and “women are evolutionarily equipped to be over-emotional and can’t do math or science”–it doesn’t sound very nice to hear humanity being reduced to this, does it?  Soon you start attributing everyone’s every move to evolution.  Besides, this is only the American cultural perspective that identifies gender in these ways–these are not key masculine and feminine traits in everyone’s culture.  Indeed, other cultures might be appalled that science had proven humanity to be this way.

To me, using evolutionary concepts in this way looks an awful lot like Victorian justifications for colonizing and enslaving whole continents and ethnic groups:  These people were inferior, because they had not evolved to the point that white Europeans and Americans had.  They couldn’t even be taught to be civilized, because they were simply biologically undeveloped.  And because these races were unfit to look after themselves, imperial takeover was justified.  SURVIVAL OF THE EVOLUTIONARILY FITTEST!

Now, saying that humans have trouble dealing with long-term dangers is not the same as saying Polynesians and Africans are genetically inferior to Europeans, and it is different again from saying men and women have biological differences.  But nonetheless, it is using evolution to justify what the species can and cannot feasibly do.  If anything, evolution should teach us that there are myriad ways to adapt to changes, and that we have the potential to reinvent ourselves as much as we need.  That might also be a misuse of science (science is intended to discover the objective truth about our universe) but at least it doesn’t make me want to give up before I even try to solve my problems. 

Perish the thought!  Put it far, far out of your mind!  We ARE equipped to deal with climate change, and that is exactly what we will do!

I spent the weekend, at the times when I wasn’t risking life and limb, mulling over my fundraising options. 

I spent yesterday evening at a mixer for UC’s Sustainability Coalition gathering petition signatures for the Climate Countdown campaign.  I would appreciate it if you could help me by signing here.  After that, I had an interview with The NewsRecord, and then we watched the Age of Stupid in the university theatre. 

Today, I gave a presentation at Xavier University on the Copenhagen climate treaty process and my role within it, and tomorrow I will be doing the same at UC.  I’m not the most engaging speaker (I rival Al Gore in terms of boredom) but it’s all in a day’s work. 

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.

Power Shift is the reason I’m going to Copenhagen next month.  It terrified me–I learned for the first time, without any partisanship or fact-bending, the real truth behind climate change, the risks involved, and just what was at stake.

Power Shift inspired me.  There was such tremendous positive energy radiating from the 12 000 young people in attendence.  Having attended weekend conferences with my peer group before, this was not what I was expecting.  It wasn’t a matter of me being pleasantly surprised; it was a matter of me rethinking everything I thought I knew about us, the American youth.  It was brilliant, and I want to continue to be a part of this.  I want to share it with the whole world.

Power Shift is what led me to Copenhagen.  The topic came up in nearly everyone’s speech, presentation, and workshop.  I knew I needed to be there–I felt destiny calling, and that’s why I jumped at the chance to apply to SustainUS’s COP15 delegation.

Now, I’m gearing up to give presentations of my own about Copenhagen at Power Shift Ohio!  That’s what I’ll be devoting my energies to this weekend, and of course I’ll keep you all informed!  Wish us all luck; we’re headed up to Oberlin this Friday at One.  My sister is coming, and I’m glad. 

After that, it’s a matter of pressuring the Senators, Obama, and the media.  And fundraising, too of course.  I invite you to check out the two entries below, click the links provided, and help our cause if you have not yet done so!!

I just finished my main contribution to the 350 Day of Action in Cincinnati, namely, a huge banner with “350” on it in huge cloth-cut numerals.  The other side says, Day of Action Cincinnati–and it looks far more fabulous than my puny description here can demonstrate.  It’s genius!  The number cloth came from Saudi Arabia, the paints came from Wal-Mart.  I don’t know where the green sheet I painted it on came from, though. 

I would post a picture here, but I lost the recharger for my digital camera, and so it lies defunct on my nightstand.  Meh.  At least I have the greatest camera in the world to back me up!  It uses film, but it’s been with me to the ends of the earth!

Also, my friend Jeff, the real organizer of the Cincinnati 350, got another media hit–this time it is an editorial in CityBeat!  Take a look!  We’ll both be there!

I will also be distributing home-made literature on Me, SustainUS, and our Senators, which I spent last night cutting into the appropriate size until I cut my hand wide open with the scissors at 3am…!  It’s the sort of cut that could really use a stitch in it too…except I have no medical, ARGH!  My thanks go out to Mom, who finished cutting the stuff up this morning, but they do NOT go out to the US healthcare system.

Well, I’m all set for tomorrow!   I just need to practice the speech I am expected to give regarding my trip to Copenhagen, my mission with SustainUS, and my efforts in pressuring the US Senate.  Wish me luck!