On Hopenhagen, Naomi Klein Misses the Point Entirely
All photos: Matthew McDermott
Over in the plaza outside city hall the grounds are filled with Hopenhagen Live booths demonstrating all sorts of next-gen green technology, selling organic food, and demonstrating how we all may benefit from them in the future. I wonder if Naomi Klein bothered to pay attention to the enthusiasm of the visitors when she called the notion of it all "utterly ridiculous":
The name of the campaign may indeed be "juvenile", as Klein says in her interview with The Uptake -- it is indeed a awfully corny pun/neologism -- and Klein is entirely 100% correct in her analysis of the gigantic maw between what sort of emission reductions are on the table in the COP15 negotiations and what climate scientists say is required to have a chance at stopping what all of us cramming together in the Bella Center day after day are here to stop.
People Won't Remember the Name, But They Won't Forget the Electric Car
But ignore the name of Hopenhagen for a second. Go down and observe the joy with which people peddle bikes around the Future City exhibit, examine the all-electric cars, the new hybrid engines for trains, the people trying to power a Christmas tree by their own effort.Their is joy on their faces, happiness, inquisitiveness, and dare I say, hope.
Hope alone, still less crossed fingers, will not bring about a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal -- Klein is also entirely correct on that point -- but at the same time the hard message of "not enough, not enough" won't either.
Like it or not the activist message will not ever reach all of the public, nor politicians and business leaders. Some people are just not ready to hear that, practically or metaphysically.
Many People Just Aren't Interested...
The first night in Copenhagen I was talking with my waitress at dinner. I wanted to get start to get a sense of what ordinary people in Copenhagen thought about climate change.
She was probably just out of high school and responded that she didn't really care about the issue. Not that it wasn't important -- she admitted it was a serious problem -- but that she was just more concerned with what was in front of her, with creating a happy life for herself, having a good time. Not unreasonable, and probably a common reaction for most people at that age -- all the great youth activists in the Bella Center being the exception rather than the rule.
I asked if it was fair to say that global warming wouldn't be really be a major concern of hers until the water started rising up in the harbor a fifteen minute walk away. She said that would make her concerned.
Different Messages Needed for Different Communities
The point in this story is that different messaging is required for different segments of the population, and that's not a bad thing. To this young women no amount of rhetoric would get her to care about the future impacts of global warming -- unfortunately until it would be too late, but there you go. But perhaps presenting all the new shiny green things of the future would get her interested.
I won't say there's a domino effect with getting people into environmental thinking and then progressing to the deeper issues. Though tempting to think so, I'm not sure that's the case -- people just have different inclinations and some internal shift has to taken place, even if just a small one to move them to deeper green concerns.
But I will say I just can't liken Hopenhagen to something juvenile as Klein does after walking around and seeing people's reactions to it.
Read all TreeHugger COP15 coverage: United Nations Climate Change Conference
COP15 in Pictures - Day One
COP15 in Pictures - "Hitler Youth" & Klimaforum09
All Aboard the Climate Express to Copenhagen! (Slideshow)
10 Points to Remember for a Successful COP15 Agreement