Little did I know that my trip to Paris Disneyland on a whim last week would turn out to be such excellent preparation for COP-15! It’s no accident that the incessantly cheery (some would say creepy) It’s a Small World venue is located in Fantasyland. With it’s happy face “audioanimatronic” dolls miming to a 1960s feel good jingle, it didn’t help that the DJs at Disney had incorporated bad xmas music into the mix and added a few Santa hats on to the robots. They never miss a chance to guild any fake lily in sight.
Much better preparation was found in “Alice’s Maze” – a relatively low-tech walk through “This Way” and “That Way” and “Go Back” with the infamous Cheshire Cat looking down on the proceedings with his sometimes nasty all-knowing-but-I’m-not-telling grin.
Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, I am in total sympathy with those who look at United Nations processes with hopelessness, or even disdain. The idea that all nations can agree on anything is impossibly hopeful. To expect them to address a global crisis like climate change seems too much to ask.
If I owned sea level property, I’d move. I can also understand those who support compromises in the name of progress. At some level, any progress is something, even if that something is out of synch with the hard chemistry of climate change and what would really be needed to address it.
Why for instance would Saudi Arabia and other oil-dependent tribes support anything that undermines their wealth and power? Science is not their strong suit. The island nations who face sinking under the seas are playing for their own survival while the usual powers-that-be seem manifestly unsympathetic. After all, they have politics-at-home to deal with.
Tiny Tuvalu (known in UN parlance as a small island state) cannot think in terms of adaptation but sees its very survival at stake. (Adaptation is the current buzz response to those who see we’re not going to make the changes needed to reduce our emissions sufficiently).
Tuvalu and the other small island nations are insisting on a deal that reflects what the science says about the situation we are in and the effort that must be made. Many of them support a 1.5 degree C global warming limit and 350 ppm of greenhouse gases, while the negotiations by the status quo would be lucky to achieve a 2 degree C warming (if everyone actually did their part). (The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 385.2 parts per million in 2008 and still rising rapidly – up 2 parts per million in one year.)
But Saudi Arabia, backed by China, India, all of OPEC and a few others opposed them. The developed countries (US, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) remained silent. Formal proceedings have been suspended and emergency behind-the-scenes wrangling is going on in earnest.