Life After Copenhagen: Here's the Reason I'm Inspired to Keep Working Harder Than Ever
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I'm on a plane, high in the sky above the Atlantic Ocean somewhere between Paris and San Francisco. The amazing magic of flight is something that I'll never take for granted. My children may well marvel that I was fortunate enough to be able to explore the world this way. At their expense, of course. Given how rare these jet-fueled globe-hops are going to become, it's worth mentioning the flight despite the fact that starting any piece with, "I'm on a plane somewhere over…" is a wholly unoriginal assault on good literary form. I return home from the climate summit in Copenhagen weary, a touch depressed, and wholly rededicated to the tasks at hand.
By now, you've likely heard conflicting reports on what was or was not accomplished in Copenhagen these past two weeks. Whatever you've been told, I can tell you with conviction you need only know this: The U.N. convention on climate change in Copenhagen resulted in zero meaningful progress on global emissions reductions. Feel free to read the spin, but please, don't get caught up in its spokes. There was no groundwork laid, no small but important steps taken. Whoever tells you different is selling something.
So how is it that I'm rededicated, when my entire trip was for naught? Two reasons. First of all, with nothing achieved, my work is perfectly defined. Thank you, Barack Obama, for flying 8,000 miles to help provide me with airtight focus. While I respect the difficulties of your position, I won't be calling you "President" until you start acting like a leader. Which brings me to my Big Takeaway from Copenhagen: The inspiring new leadership that gathered to fill the void. People like Jason Mogus, Beka Economopoulos and Ben Margolis of TckTckTck, Avaaz' Ricken Patel and 350.org's May Boeve and Jamie Henn. These are just a few of the faces of the movement I had the chance to meet, watch, and learn from. Where once we had only the well intentioned but polarizing Al Gore, we now have a growing crop of activists whose ideas and charisma not only eclipse those of the former President, but are, vitally, largely free of two-party taint.
Of course, no mention of courageous leadership at COP15 can omit 350.org's founder Bill McKibben. The man gave every ounce of his energy to the failed summit. Bill, if you're reading this: We need your strength. Take a damn vacation, already. You can trust your capable generals.
In Copenhagen, many of us came together and met in person for the first time to unite our respective organizations into a stronger, more unified front. Our opposition has for years outmaneuvered us through well-planned collaborations ("Climate Gate" is one recent example). This damning but insightful article clearly articulates this and outlines our challenge: "No One is Going to Save You Fools". If you haven't read it, and have interest in the intricate machining of mass delusion, I highly recommend taking the time. Many of us have read it and owe the author a debt of gratitude. We have resolved to never again be so easily outflanked. I'm hopeful that these informal conversations over food and drinks in bars and hotel rooms in Copenhagen will mark a significant turning point. When we assess COP15 in the future, the long lines, the NGO access revocation, and even the first world's refusal to act will be of secondary importance next to the formation of a "cabal of fools," if you will, who finally took it upon themselves to fight with the cunning and fury required of a mission as epic as maintaining the habitability of a planet.