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Paris Climate Change Conference – Watching the World Watch

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 (Delegates at COP21 / (Photo credit Carl Court/Getty Images /www.theguardian.com)

It’s the end of the first week of December, a week of grand drama and tragedy.  My new phone has determined that it will vibrate when it has “news” – and since that seems to be the only technology I own which is working, I’ve been paying attention.  This would be a book instead of a blog if I were to even mention the current news stories, so I’m going to concentrate on COP21 (the 21st Conference of Parties) aka the Paris Conference on Climate Change.  With tens of thousands of people from most of the world, and leaders from over 90 countries in attendance, the goal of the Conference is to agree upon legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Conference started on November 30 and runs through December 11; a combination of hope, grand statements, difficult conversations and hard bargaining, pomp, frustration, dedication, and stories.  May the people there, representing our shared future, find a positive way forward.

As background for those whose phones have not been alerting them to each twist and turn of news about COP21, here are some links:

The official COP21 links are http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en and  http://www.cop21paris.org/about/cop21, with live updates and information on the conference itself; they provide for interesting and rapidly changing reading. https://twitter.com/COP21 , (@COP21) announces that tomorrow is the Day of Action.

But why is this Climate Change conference so important?  A great examination of “13 Misconceptions About Climate Change” can be found athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWXoRSIxyIU – along with a laugh or two.  For general information, look athttp://www.cnn.com/2015/11/30/europe/france-paris-cop21-climate-change-conference/ and http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/climate-change-conference-nahlah-ayed-1.3345116 , as well ashttp://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/28/science/what-is-climate-change.html?_r=0 and https://www.2degreesnetwork.com/groups/2degrees-community/resources/what-paris-climate-summit-likely-deliver/ .

The challenge is that we humans are subject to what a colleague calls “hyperbolic discounting” – the tendency to see what is happening today as much more important than that which might or will happen in the future.  As a species we tend to hope for the best, and fail to plan or take action even when we are convinced that a long-term problem exists, e.g., climate change is accelerating, and that it is likely to have disastrous effects.  As another colleague says, we are pillaging our great-great-grandchildren’s future in order to avoid uncomfortable actions.

There are those (and I am among them) who sense a change, this time.  Most of now believe that climate change is happening, and it’s both logical and demonstrated that humans have had a hand in that.  Those who are already affected by climate change are telling their stories:  The Marshall Islands which are disappearing, and insurance companies with ever-changing risk profiles for floods, wildfires, and civil unrest.  Technological and market innovations have provided more tools with which we can address climate change and make a profit, and government policies are recognizing the risks of ignoring, as well as the advantages in addressing, climate change.

More importantly, we have stories, and photos, which help us to viscerally understand what climate change can and is doing. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/climate/2015-paris-climate-talks/what-climate-change-looks-like-habitat-change

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http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/marshall-islands-disappear-because-climate-change/

The Paris conference is important, because it can set the framework within which all of us operate to reduce the impact of climate change.  Yet we can also do our own part – at work, at school, and at home: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/03/upshot/what-you-can-do-about-climate-change.html and http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/ .  Leonardo Energy also has a social media campaign going on Twitter, #MY21ACTIONS4CLIMATE – Read and add your own!

Well – neither you nor I are in Paris.  But we can take action, and we can follow those who are there, negotiating and planning for all of us:

And there are many more.

Many people attending the meeting in Paris will have been engaged in incredible actions to get there – including Elend Knudsen and Daniel Price, who are to arrive in Paris from the North and South Poles today. http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/11/29/from-the-poles-to-paris-two-scientists-journey-over-land-to-climate-talks.html , #RoadtoParis@poletoparis .

Maybe, in the end, Knudsen says it best “I’m the one running it, but I’m running with the messages of so many people — people who put all their hope in me. They believe this is actually possible and now is the chance to make a change. And it really is. We have a great chance in Paris to make things right and to put things in the right direction.” http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/13/opinions/sutter-climate-pilgrimage-two-degrees/

It’s time for action.  It’s the Day of Action.

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