05 December 2009

Why I'm Not Going to Copenhagen

Why am I not going to Copenhagen? Because it's a waste of time, money, and CO2.

Seriously. Over the years, these large gatherings of nations, NGOs, scientists, policy brokers, lobbyists, celebrities, and demagogues has continued to spiral into irrelevance in my mind.

The result is always the same: a bunch of hot air, posturing, and agreements to agree to meet again, while everyone scrambles around vying for attention and trying to make their position the leading argument.

Copenhagen promises to be more of the same, and now there will be even more drama with President Obama, fresh from his Nobel Prize acceptance, showing up like Santa Claus bestowing presents to the delegates. Or not.

But the real reason I have no interest in being in Copenhagen next week is that I think the delegates there will be focused on the wrong things.

More than ever, I'm convinced that the climate crisis campaign has given way to climate chaos and that it has led to two very bad trends revealed in the news media of late: the "Climategate" scandal, which reveals some climate scientists behaving badly and the steep decline in public sentiment about whether global warming is really happening.

As I've said elsewhere, I do believe the climate is changing and there is a genuine risk posed by potentially escalating changes. Some of the dangers could be catastrophic, especially for some coastal and island communities or for any community that relies on glacier-fed streams.

The poor and vulnerable may be at the greatest risk, because there is very little safety net for them, but they are often forgotten in the debate.

What I'm not convinced about is whether anyone really knows what extent the changes will be, despite the dire predictions we all hear about and that are often represented as the "consensus" view.

I think it's time for a change in the way we think about global warming and climate change. We need to get beyond the doom-and-gloom hysteria and focus on adapting to a range of changes that will likely happen, investing in innovations that will help adapt and even mitigate some of those changes, and looking for creative ways to help people change their behavior that will facilitate both adaptation and innovation.

That last point is illustrated by The Fun Theory, a web site that was brought to my attention by Kim Larson, who is a leader in bringing healthier food to school children around the country.

The Fun Theory is a program developed by Volkswagen (yes, a car company) "dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that its change for the better."

How much better Copenhagen would be better if it was about creating fun, innovative ways of reducing CO2 rather than prescriptions.

But it won't happen; so I'll stay home next week.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]