The Big Cheese of Climate Change
Justified or not, Al Gore, the big cheese of climate change, came to Poznan on the last but one day.
Much as I didn’t enjoy his film, think he is hypocritical in many ways, and mistrust his science, he couldn’t have come at a better time, and I couldn’t have been more glad to see him. His 45 minute speech was a monumental moment in the high level segment of the negotiations for many reasons. Not only because Politicians listen to him, and he packed out one of the HUGE plenary halls of the conference centre with politicians, negotiators, NGO people, youth and UN employees alike; but because he reinforced the International Youth Delelagtion’s pledge campaign for survival. He said 350ppm is where we should be aiming for, he said 2 degrees is too high, he said these negotiations aren’t moving fast enough and he shamed all the negotiators without embarrassing them. His speech was written around the theme of doubt versus hope-how do we manage the two? How do we keep on fighting with this hope in our hearts, when there’s doubt in our heads? Especially when this doubt is created by the very thing that you’re hoping to effect in a positive way. This was something the whole of UKYD, and possibly IYD, had been struggling with for the 2 weeks-how do you keep your head above water when people are pulling you down?
A good question indeed. And I appreciated his answer. At the end of this two week slog, it was like having your Dad pat you on the back and say, “It’s going to be ok, really it is.”
And so in the words of the Big Cheese himself, because I can do no better, here is why:
“We are moving up against a physical standard that doesn’t give credit for a good try. We will succeed or we will fail. At every time of great challenge, we as human beings first of all must resolve a struggle in our own hearts between hope and fear. That struggle is palpable here during this meeting at Poznan. The causes for fear, pessimism, discouragement and doubt have been discussed in whispered conversations among the delegates here.”
“But in spite of these fears and doubts, you have continued your work and have continued to make steady progress in resolving many issues that once seemed intractable. Thank you. And even though the steps that you have taken and that have been taken by nations around the world sometimes seem small and even though the progress seems painfully slow, it is worth taking stock and recognizing that this great enterprise that began 16 years ago has now taken us to a vantage point from which we can see the basis for success because in spite of the remaining obstacles and difficulties, I believe that the causes for hope and optimism are greater than the causes for doubt and discouragement, and I believe the road to Copenhagen is now clear.”
“The reason why you have been able to continue moving forward is because you understand the truth about the crisis that we face.”
“To those who are fearful — to those who are fearful that it is too difficult to conclude this process with a new treaty by the deadline that has been established for 1 year from now in Copenhagen, I say it can be done. It must be done. Let’s finish this process at Copenhagen. Don’t take the pressure off. Let’s make sure that we succeed. Because ultimately this really is not a political issue. It is of course a moral issue, and even a spiritual issue, however you understand that word. And our different traditions lead us to different ways of describing a spiritual challenge. But this one affects the survival of human civilization. It is simply put, a question of right versus wrong, and we have to bring to bear that truth force and that moral courage necessary to do what is sometimes seen as impossible. Very simply put, it is wrong for this generation to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every future generation. That realization — that realization must carry us forward. Our children have a right to hold us to a higher standard when the future of all human civilization is hanging in the balance. They deserve better….”
“I would like to relay to you a message that I heard from the people of the United States of America this year, that I think is very relevant to the task the world is facing over this next year. Yes, we can.”
(see www.algore.com december 2008 for the full speech.)
this is the second half:
And so, I listened and I watched others sitting in this vast warehouse with tears running down their face just as they were running down mine.