Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Tiny Advent Star

There's a star-sized hole in the snow balanced on my deck railing, but you can only see it from one angle. We look for the star during this season, especially this year, with CoP-15 concurrent with Solstice and Advent. Amidst the post-Copenhagen spin, there is a smallish star, when looked at from the angle of climate diplomacy, namely the little non-binding agreement that Obama brokered in an accidental context, a coda to the exhausting proceedings.

But we look for Big Things during Advent, a guiding star that is unmistakable And the summit did not bring this from the world leaders. However, the mass movement generated by a significant portion of the world population through the organizing efforts of, Avaaz, and other groups was the real star of the season, starting with the Oct 24 rallies, on through the vigils Dec 12 and the mass petition signed by 12 million, tens of thousands of whose names were read aloud in the conference hall, the Bella Center. The only reason that many of us are not in despair right now is that this movement is primed to grow, keeping the pressure up for a “real deal.” The climate justice movement provides a genuine counterweight to the Tea Party movement in the US and the neo-Nazis in Europe.

President Obama, after his feat of extraordinary diplomacy, barging in on a cabal of developing nations plotting against the US and turning it into a collaborative session, albeit too late to significantly alter this much-ballyhooed summit, declared that what we need most as a global community of nations is trust. Both in the halls of international summitry and within the D.C. Beltway, trust is the missing ingredient, even though we all have interests that are more common and vital than national, sectarian, or party. Without it, nothing important can be accomplished as a nation or as a world community.

That is why the international quality of the climate change movement gives some grounds for hope. In terms of the politics of a climate treaty, there is far more hope in Europe, the UK, Japan, even Russia, because virtually all parties recognize and accept the science of climate change, and therefore the urgency of abating it. In the US, party and ideological divisions are rendering intelligent conversation on the issue extremely difficult. A key indicator of the difficulty is that the co-sponsor of the first climate bill, John McCain, has not shown any willingness to support the bill presently clogged in the Senate. It is more important for his party to wreck Obama's presidency than to save civilization as we know it.

This must change. Our main hope, now that our leaders have failed us, is to build an unstoppable people's movement that must be heard. Last Thursday, a day before the climate summit ended, called for a worldwide fast in support of a “real deal.” We will need more, longer fasts, and acts of civil disobedience. Everything will need to be disciplined and well-organized. The targets of these acts of conscience in this country are US Senators, who hold the key to our country's seriously joining a just, meaningful, and binding climate treaty. The Congress as a whole must come up with a bill for the President to sign, but it is the Senate that must ratify a UN treaty, by a two-thirds vote. Electing Obama was not the political act of the era; winning that treaty vote for the planet will be.

So, on to Mexico City without faltering. And start preparing now for your own role in the treaty vote in the Senate. The fate of the Earth depends upon it.

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