What to do when you want to help solve climate change? One thing Dr. Monk could think of: go to Paris and bring more humanity and creativity to the COP21 Climate Summit.
We organized an event inside the COP21 conference, on the last official day of negotiations (why on Earth we choose to negotiate over this crystal clear and mega-important issue a different story altogether, which we have written down here). Our partners in crime were the Young Club of Rome and our friend Wanlov the Kubolor.
Our intention was to dig deep and bring a last dose of positivity and human experience to the negotiations. Participants in our event were a mix of parliamentarians, civil society reps, young people and official negotiators from different continents.
The conversation we had was beautiful, yet painfully representative of what is going wrong in the world. This is what it came down to:
Pacific Island Negotiator: "As it looks now, climate change will make my island disappear in the ocean in five (yes F-I-V-E) years. Others will follow. How many countries will it take before we change our ways? What is the price we are willing to pay?"
Civil Society Person: "And still, I see the negotiators here walk around with a poker face, as if it’s everyday business. Is this what you see in your fellow negotiators too?"
Pacific Island Negotiator: "I see some poker faces, yes. Because for those that are not in the same situation as us, this discussion is more about economic interests. Money. We need money to become more resilient and that’s where it gets hard."
Rich Country Parliamentarian: "I understand you need money. But you see the thing is, my voters don’t trust that you can spend that money well. So I can’t give it to you."
Young Activist: "Whoa. Wait! Didn’t we all create this problem together? Especially the rich countries? And now that we need to solve it, it’s every man for himself?"
Kubolor: "This is the problem with our current leaders. They don’t feel what the people feel. Because their lives are so comfortable and rich. I kindly suggest we chop their heads off. Make space for a more compassionate generation."
African Negotiator: "Errr... Right. But first. My country has contributed only 0.13% of emissions. Yet the consequences of this global problem are huge for our country too. Failed crops, flooding, displaced people. We can’t solve that by ourselves."
Rich Country Parliamentarian [having inhaled significant amounts of humanity by now]: "Yes. I know. I do feel it personally. We are all connected. But my voters don’t really feel the urgency, they are not even aware. That is what needs to change. That is what really needs to change. Then I could do a lot more."
So, is this climate crisis actually a matter of being able to *feel* something when you know someone else’s country is about to go under? To stand in the shoes of someone whose toes are already wet? To care enough to get informed and try to do what’s right? To be a human being?
P.S. Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of Can you feel it? Oh, MJ.