On Monday, I attended a side event presented by Oxfam where Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson both spoke. Along with these two speakers, there were four people testifying about how climate change has affected them. Archbishop Tutu described that the people who want to see a deal to be passed and care about climate change are good human beings. I thought that his speech was powerful. He spoke directly to what the issue is. I thought his explanation of the situation in Copenhagen was correct when he described it as all kinds of competing voices trying to be heard. At the same time, other voices are trying to persuade people to listen. The key to these talks are for people to listen one another. I believe listening is part of the key to coming up with a deal because we all need to listen to everyone’s side of the story. But there comes a time when a person or a delegation needs to decide what is more important. I believe the most important issue on the agenda is bringing down carbon emissions to a level where climate change does not become more severe.
As Archbishop Tutu stated the actions in Copenhagen are a matter of survival or doom. Do we really want to see beautiful islands go underwater? Do we want to see people fighting and may die due to lack of resources? Do we want to see animals go extinct? Personally, I don’t want to see any of this occur and I am willing to give up some of my comforts to help others. Why can’t our leaders understand this is what a growing number people would like to see a binding treaty come out of Copenhagen? These people are growing in numbers every day as climate change affects more people each day. I know not everyone may agree but climate change is becoming a more serious issue as each day passes. At this time, climate change is not affecting the rich countries as much as it is affecting poor countries. Archbishop Tutu stated the rich countries are punishing the innocent who are the poor countries.
As the people testified and told their stories, there main points was to be heard and for strong action against climate change to begin. The first speaker stated as the glacier recede, the town will begin to face water shortages. Along with the water shortages, the town is experiencing extreme weather and changes in weather patterns. These changes are affecting the culture and life of the town. I thought one of the most touching parts of his speech was when he posed the question are we guilty? This town is not emitting large amounts of carbon emissions. Why should these people suffer and lose so much while other countries lose little. The most inspiring part of his speech was when he said he will keep on telling his story until he is heard. As the people testified, they shared many of the same points. All of the testimonies stated the same want from Copenhagen that a strong deal passed to be passed. If it is not passed in Copenhagen, they will not stop telling their stories until they are heard. As I listened to their stories, I heard the strength and power in their voices. I hope that their stories can be heard and leaders and delegates begin to listen as Archbishop Tutu asked for us to do. Listening is not a heard concept. If we would open our ears, we may be able to get something done in Copenhagen.
Mary Robinson closed the session by saying all of the testimonies have similarities and no matter where a person lives, they are vulnerable to climate change. As time goes on, these problems will just get worse and the effects will be long felt. Another point she made was that the poor are having the least role in the talks on climate change. These poor countries have the most to lose from climate change at this moment. The verdict that she gave from the testimonies was for there to be a fair ambitious and binding deal made in Copenhagen. We must tackle climate change. The people are becoming louder than ever and pushing for this issue to be addressed, where strong outcomes will occur. She stated as a condition of the deal that countries must cut emissions by forty percent. The proposed cuts predicted to come out of Copenhagen are to be an eight to twelve percent cut which is not enough. If action is not done now, the effects of climate change will get worse and more people will be affected.
At the end of this clip they show one of the people testifying and Mary Robinson speak. http://www.france24.com/en/20091216-copenhagen-climate-summit-protests-arrests-carbon-emission-police
Yesterday, I went to a side event about the Greenland Ice sheet. The side event had different speakers who focused upon calling for action to be taken now and explaining the latest research on the ice sheet. I thought the information provided was informative and interesting. The rate at which the ice is melting is shocking to me. The expected sea level rise is thought to be about a one meter rise in one hundred years. Also, the amount of ice melting is increasing year after year. Along with the amount of ice melting increases, the season for melt is starting earlier and ending later. So this means more fresh water is being deposited into the ocean. The melting of the ice is not being proportionately distributed throughout the entire ocean. Some islands are feeling the effects of increasing ice melting more than other islands such as Kiribati. Kiribati’s sea level is higher than the average amount of sea level rise.
Also, there is an Arctic council that has been formed which consists of countries like the U.S., Canada, Russia and other countries near the ice sheets. The speaker talking about the Arctic council talked about how there should be actions completed to prevent the melting of the ice. But he also stated if the ice melted, there would be many benefits. If the ice melted, there would be huge economic opportunities such as new shipping routes and oil. The time when these changes may occur is unknown. It seemed as if the speaker was trying to be on both sides of the argument concerning the Arctic region. The speaker wanted both development and protection of the region. In my opinion, it seemed like the speaker did not exactly care if the ice melted because of the huge economic benefits that could be found or developed. I felt as if economic interests were most important in the speaker’s eyes. I felt that this speaker’s speech was out of place compared to the other speeches that focused on the need and the responsibility to keep intact our glaciers and ice sheets.
On Wednesday, Lisa Jackson, administer of the E.P.A. spoke to a group of people at the COP15 conference. Outside of the U.S. delegation’s room where the speech was held, there was a large group of people waiting to try to make their way into the speech. Before Jackson gave her speech, many people asked why the U.S. decided to have Lisa Jackson give a speech in such a small room. Looking at the amount of people who wanted to attend, it may have been a great idea for the U.S. to book a larger room. Many of those who wanted to attend were turned down. I was one of the lucky ones who were able to push their way through into the small room where the speech was given. I recorded the speech on my camera and also put the videos on youtube of Lisa Jackson’s speech.
Today, a group of us went to Malmo, Sweden. After about a thirty minute train ride, we arrived in Sweden. All of us went on a sustainable development tour about the community of Augustenborg. After riding the bus through Malmo, we reached Augustenborg. Looking around one could see there are many green roofs, solar panels and water canals. The reason why the community of Augustenborg decided to work towards and become a sustainable city was in part due to the flooding that occurred whenever heavy rain fell.
We walked into the first building which seemed to be the center of the sustainable development projects. On top of this building was a green roof. The tour guide stated green roofs are better solutions than technical solutions. Some reasons why green roofs are better are because it is simple to maintain and creates outcomes quickly. Reasoning for creating a green roof is because it is an unused space. The decision to transform empty roof space to green roofs is due to the benefits people, a city and the environment are able to feel. The roof contained different types of green roofs. The different types were semi-intensive and non-intensive roofs. Both roofs are able to retain much of the rain water that falls upon it. On the non intensive roof, it retains about 50 percent of the rain water. But on the semi-intensive roof, it retains about 90 percent of the rain water. Because the roofs retain much of its water and other forms of water storage, it benefits the city of Malmo because all of this water is not going into the city’s water system.
The tour guide talked about how important green spaces are. In Augustenborg, there is 9,000 square meters of green roof space. The tour guide explained that she only spends about 10 minutes every 2 years maintaining the gardens. These ten minutes are spent spreading fertilizer. If green roofs take so little maintenance, this is a huge incentive for people to create and have their own green roofs. For every square meter, it costs about 500 to 900 Swedish Kroners. This number may seem like a lot but the long term benefits for both the people inhabiting the building and city is a great amount. Green roofs have many purposes such as the ability to grow plants close to the consumer, the ability to retain heat in the cold and the ability to cool a building in the warm weather. Also, green roofs have the ability to extend the life of the roof materials longer than if there was no green roof. Personally I think the idea of green roofs is a great and important idea. I think more people, businesses and cities should decide and create their own green roofs. After this tour, I felt that most of the people on the tour were inspired to do something like the projects that are occurring in Augustenborg.
While walking through the convention center at COP15, there was an exhibit about the Thisted Municipality in Denmark. One of the reasons I was drawn to the exhibit was because they were offering free buttons. Also, I find wind energy to be very interesting. But the city does not only run off of wind power. It uses many other types of renewable energy sources such as biomass and wave power to list a couple. As I walked over to the exhibit, the person running the exhibit began to speak about the community. This community uses a large percentage of clean energy to power both industry and homes. The 226 wind turbines in the municipality are able to produce 339 GWh which means the municipality can all be ran off of renewable energy. It has successfully created an energy system that allows for it to be powered by clean energy. It states in one of the handouts that “electricity is produced from 100% renewable energy”. As our group was talking, he stated this type of city can be implemented in all cities. One may think with the use of sustainable energy, there may be a loss of comfort one had before. But the speaker reassured us that there is no loss of comfort. If there is no loss in comfort which most people are afraid of losing then why have not cities around the world done more? The speaker went on to say the benefits financially are huge. Now aren’t these two arguments huge incentives for people and cities to sponsor and create sustainable cities.
The movie, “The Age of Stupid”, premiered worldwide on September 21st. I attended the premier hoping more people would have heard about it and gone to see it. As I sat in the theatre waiting for the movie to start, less than ten people walked in to attend. The footage before the show stated the movie’s attendance was a world record, but as they showed the numbers from around the country and the world, the numbers were not very large.
This movie showed the effects of climate change and the efforts of a selected few. But in my view, it did not state what must be done. After the movie, during the question and answer session live from New York, the director was stating we have to do something at Copenhagen and quickly stated what must be done. My sister, who attended the movie and does not know a lot about the climate change talks, was in awe with some of the information given because she did not know about certain aspects and information out there. Also, she was confused with some of the information being stated and asked questions throughout the movie like what does this mean and why does this Copenhagen deal matter? Seeing this movie with my sister made me rethink how much do other people who do not pay much attention to climate change talks really know about the subject.
One disturbing piece of information which was stated in the movie was that “flying is the single worse thing except for setting fire to a forest”. Flying has become a major source of transportation in our society. If flying is so bad for the environment, it makes someone question what should be done to remedy this issue soon. A big promotion of the movie was that it was a green premiere. Before the movie started, there was footage of people on rowboats and riding bicycles arriving at the theatre. But the thought going through my head was how did people from all around the world get there? They probably flew here. The directors promoted how they arrived at the premier on a rowboat. I thought how did they get from England to New York? They most likely did not row their little boat here. The directors promoted how they arrived to the premier using green ideas, but they did not share how they arrived to the United States. I believe they had good intentions with this green premiere, but I thought their promotion of they arrived to the premiere and their carbon usage was a little off.