Copenhagen, Out of the Frying Pan, Pt. 6
I stopped in on an event moderated by George Monbiot (the fine columnist from UK's "The Guardian" newspaper) at Klimaforum dealing with how things are going and how we should proceed. He was taking comments from the large audience--a major hall filled to near capacity. Missing were heads of state. The event was billed as a place where disgruntled heads of state were invited to make their cases, but by the time I arrived half-way through a three-hour meeting none were in evidence.
People's comments were mostly on a grand scale, things like dismantling capitalism as a necessary prerequisite for solving global warming, or the need for local small agriculture to supplant industrial agriculture. I also had my hand raised, and I made my case that what the movement needed was a demand that is not so general and gigantic, but one that is just big enough to deal with the problem at hand: stopping coal burning by 2030.
So I proposed that the phrase "100 Miles of Mirrors" should be on the movement's signs and placards. And I explained how it meant that only 100 miles by 100 miles of Solar Thermal mirrors would completely replace coal in each of the 4 major polluting areas: USA, China, Europe and India. Or that something equally that specific and germane should be our demand. A fair amount of hearty applause indicated that the idea had resonated.
Next, I went to find a representative of Friends of the Earth, one of the NGOs that had their credentials pulled in the last few days. My interview was being arranged by Noora Ojala, a volunteer of FOE/Finland. While waiting for the policy person to come talk with me, she let me know that her group and other people in the movement were feeling pressure to restrain themselves from criticizing "carbon offsets" (the practice where polluters can continue to pollute as long as they pay for the "rights") because it would be rocking the boat on getting a deal hammered out at the Conference. She felt that, despite the "rocking the boat" argument, any agreement should not compromise on such things--it was too important, that is, carbon offsets are unacceptable.
Elizabeth, the FOE policy person arrived and told me the two main demands they were going for are: stopping all government subsidies for fossil fuels and no more new coal plants. I like the fact that these goals are not too general--good stuff! And FOE is going strong in 77 countries. I remember when they were just in Berkeley, California, founded by David Brower, and with a great reputation for integrity.
Finally, I was accosted by a large penguin holding a submachine gun and holding a sign with the demand "Move It!" He told me that his home had melted but now he has a gun and is headed for some bars in Copenhagen looking for ice machines to bring back to Antarctica. Well, that sounded like a good idea, and an hour later I went to a bar in the town, where I was supposed to show up to do an audition for a solo concert gig. And when I got there, who walked in?...The same penguin!...strange, but true.
Ciao for now, your Man in the Pan, Alex Carlin
Alex Carlin is guest blogging from Copenhagen for the Center for Media and Democracy. He serves as a Director of The Leo J. and Celia Carlin Fund. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he lives in Krakow, Poland. He is the organizer of 100 Miles of Mirrors and his writings include 100 Miles of Mirrors: A Simple, Feasible Plan for Averting Global Climatic Disaster, In These Times (December 1, 2009).