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.

Thank you.

Love,

Liz Trombley

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.

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!!

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!

National Guard troops man a checkpoint into downtown Pittsburgh, ...

AFP/Saul Loeb

I have lived in police states before.  Yet although I twittered that this is what Pittsburgh feels like today, that really doesn’t begin to cover it.  The entire city has been shut down–schools are out, businesses are closed, no cars are allowed within certain areas.   People are milling throughout the streets, many of which are blocked or barricaded.  Police cars and buses mix freely with Humvees, and police dressed in riot gear march in formations, while the military watches from street corners.  There is an eerie sense of impending doom over the city.

I have not been involved in the rioting and tear gassing.  I might have been.  Kyle and I were dropped off at Carnegie Melon today to join a march.  When we walked past the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, and were so entranced by this bizarre phenomenon that we gave up on trying to figure out how to get to the march.  You couldn’t go inside though–there were riot police at every entrance.

I later learned that the march we were going to join met up with another, larger, march.  I would like to have seen it, but this rally did not have a permit, some of its participants began to throw bricks, and they were dispersed with tear gas and pepper spray.  We, meanwhile, had gone downtown and were helping out USCAN, an alliance of a large number of climate-oriented groups (such as SustainUS, for instance) which coordinate media.  We intend to return tomorrow to volunteer.

Afterwards, Kyle’s aunt, uncle, and cousin took us to see a night-time view of Pittsburgh from the cliff on the opposite side of the river.  I tell you, Pittsburgh is a beautiful, beautiful city.  I am glad to have seen it.

Right now, we are watching Grey’s Anatomy in the family room.  Afterwards is the news, in which they will be giving all the gory details of all the blood, protests, and tear gas we avoided today.  I will watch it, and will report the second half tomorrow.

Credits: Kyle Gracey

I have never been to a G20 (or G7 or G8 or anything) conference.  I was very excited to hear that there was going to be one in the US, particularly in Pittsburgh, which is a mere 4-hour drive from my hometown.  It will draw a large crowd of the usual protestors and activists, and climate change and clean energy will have major representation amongst these.

I was supposed to go in the morning with a friend to attend a ceremony before the labor/clean energy rally, but after a misunderstanding and resulting confusion, I just wound up taking my grandmother’s car whose insurance is about to expire, and which I only partly know how to drive.

Most of Pittsburgh was shut down in some form.  About 10 miles of the city, I noticed a number of police cars patrolling various exits and entry ways.  The police only got more numerous as I approached the city, and I was eventually forced off the highway when one of them blocked me from merging left.  I had to find my way back through the city (which I have never visited before) and figure out somewhere to park (which I did, but they nearly locked me out by the time I returned).

The city was a complete ghost town, but the rally was ok.  I met up with Kyle and his aunt and uncle, and mostly we sat there on Point State Park and listened to various speakers, like the President of the AFL-CIO, the President of the Sierra Club, Kathy Mattea, and a recording of Al Gore.

All of the people who spoke at the rally, except Al Gore’s recording, were there at the Andy Warhol Museum VIP party afterwards, to which we had free tickets.  If you want a really good description of it, imagine 5000 people crammed into your house, all well-dressed, with some paid staff serving drinks and trying to push through the crowd with hors d’eurves.  It was intense!

Credits: Kyle Gracey

With the permission of Kyle Gracey

Finally, Kyle and I managed to escape to the Museum’s upper levels where I got to see all of Andy Warhol’s awesome stuff.  My favorite part was the silver floating balloons, of which I did not take a picture because my camera’s battery died, I couldn’t find the recharger, and all I had is my World’s Best film camera whose flash is not working these days. 😦

I also acquired a new appreciation for jazz.

The G20 is tomorrow.

That will be all!