I’m sitting here in the Fresh Air Center (read: NOT the Bella Center).  There weren’t enough badges to go around this morning; seeing that my role here has been utterly useless, I gave my pass to someone who actually had something to do inside.  I do wish I was inside though.  I really do.

As I understand it, the NGOs just got up and walked out the center in protest.  Just now. 

Friends of the Earth and Avaaz have been denied access to 100% of delegates today.

The Bella Center metro stop is shut down in interests of “crowd control”.

One delegate has cleared security but now will not be signed into the Bella Center.  He is a parliament member of some European country, and he refuses to leave and is now sitting in and getting arrested to protest.  Good for him!  Diplomatic immunity!

The President of COP15 just resigned proceedurally.

The police have invaded the YOUNGO convergence space.  What the eff??  We’re a constituency organization.  That is an outrage!  They’re all over the university, though.

Fights are breaking out around the Bella Center. 

And that’s how I spent my morning!!


Yesterday was the Dec 12 Day of Solidarity, in which citizens in over 3000 cities worldwide held candlelight vigils supporting action in Copenhagen.  I, too, took part in the actions and marched 6 km from Parliament Square to the Bella Center.  

The PowerShift Story

I’ve been in plenty of marches and protests before.  They generally seem to be in the winter under adverse conditions.  There was that one time when I protested the Iraq war, and it was so cold that I got hypothermia.  Then there was the demonstration I took part in for PowerShift.  It was about the coldest day in the history of Washington DC, and there had been a terrible blizzard the night before.  I hadn’t packed any warm clothes.  I never seem to protest on nice warm days, and yesterday was no exception.  It was cold, but at least the sky was clear.  This was the first time I have ever participated in an international march, and there were apparently 100 000 of us. 

As we walked, the Danish people turned out on the streets and waved to us from apartment buildings lining the streets.  Several of our number got recorded on BBC news (FUN!!  I never seem to get any press hits), and it culminated in a candelight vigil with candles and actual torches outside the Bella Center.  I was very cold and tired at that point, and all alone, so I headed over to the Bella Center to check my email. 

When I got into the Bella Center, a lot of people were asking me whether I got arrested, or if it had been really crazy.  No, it was not; although, apparently a few bozos among us started throwing cobbles at police.  They were rightly arrested, but so were 900 other peaceful demonstrators.  I cannot independently verify this at this time, but that’s pretty lame of the police it’s true. 

No sooner had I got to the Bella Center, when someone from the Will Steger delegation grabbed me and asked me to telecast in to a group in Lansing, Michigan with some other midwestern delegates to describe the Copenhagen experience.  I’m not sure how they knew I was from the midwest, but ok.  I told them about the AOSIS show of support I went to (in an earlier entry). 

After that, I went to the infamous NGO party.  Now, I am of the mind that when people say “party”, it ought to mean that I put on a frilly pink party dress, Mom serves cake, ice cream, and fruit punch, we play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and ride little ponies.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the grass is green.  The NGO party was not that way. 

First, you had to stand outside for hours just to hang up your coat, there was nowhere you could go just to chill out and talk to people, and I had a real issue with a certain Nigerian official.  I don’t understand people sometimes, I really don’t.  Finally, at 2 am, I just got really sick of it and left.  And THAT was the legendary NGO party. 

I don’t know what’s happening next week.  They’ve restricted our delegation by 75% due to the overflow of people trying to attend COP15.  I may or may not be going back to the Bella Center.  Till we get that worked out, I’m heading into the city to get some overpriced food.

Let me start by saying that a manual film camera is not an electrical device.  You put the film tab through the little insert and lock the cannister in place at the opposite end of the camera.  When you press the button, the shutter lifts inside the camera for a split second, thereby making an imprint of light on the photo-sensitive film held taught inside.  You then advance the film with the little thumb lever.  Repeat.  It’s entirely mechanical.

What I didn’t realize was that most people don’t apparently know about this phenomenon.  Maybe I’m dating myself by discussing it.  But I was hassled trying to come in to volunteer at USCAN today, because I couldn’t turn the camera on.

Guard: “All electronic devices must be turned on.”

Me: “OK, well, the camera doesn’t turn on.  It uses film, and it’s manual.”

Guard: “ALL electronic devices must be turned on.”

Me:  “I can’t turn it on!  There isn’t any thing to turn on.”

Guard: “Ma’am, you HAVE to turn it on.”

Me:  “THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE. Look, I’m not trying to be rude!  It’s just not electrical!”

Finally, an older person came to the rescue.  Learn from this story–some devices are not electronic.  Old folks like us know this.  Respectable photographers know this.  YOU KNOW THIS.

That was how my day started, but seeing that they gave us free breakfast (and lunch) at USCAN, I cannot complain.  We stayed there most of the day, Kyle and I, just watching the news, attending press conferences, and observing the Ethiopian demonstrators outside our building.

I did not get teargassed or arrested.  But I did attend one of the marches, and therein lies one of the big gripes of the environmental movement. 

You might have seen it in the news.  Many thousands of people came to Pittsburgh to protest the G20.  Each had their own agenda–there are the labor unionists, the poor and unemployed, the peace activists, activists for various groups (Ethiopia, for instance, or Tibet), Falun Gong, social justice groups, anarchists, socialists, etc. etc. etc. 

Yet a major theme of the conference was clean energy and transitioning the G20 economies away from fossil fuels.  Climate activists had events planned but you don’t read about their events in the paper much.  Nor did they have a visible presence in the march of allies today.  Seeing that social justice, international crises, and employment issues are, to many in the environmental movement, all interlinked with climate change and clean energy, why was there no coordination?  Come on, guys!  You heard Carl Pope on Wednesday night: UNITED WE ARE STRONG!

Nor has the media been actively covering the climate change aspect of this.  I guess when kids swathed in black start throwing bricks at windows, every other story fades by comparison.  I don’t really know what went on in the rest of Pittsburgh, but around the dinner table we shared the day’s personal stories of the local and state police, the national guard, the military, public transportation, Obama’s double, police throwing a bicycle at a protestor, snipers on rooftops, barricades, and the uncoordinated actions of the thousands of demonstrators here today.

None of the day’s happenings seem to have been in support of combatting climate change.  Nor was there citizen pressure for the US to come to an agreement before Copenhagen.  I think the G20 itself was the most productive body on climate action!  “Thank you, G20.”

Oh well.  At least I got plenty of free literature!  Well, till next time–I am going to go read that literature!