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Who are these 20,000?

Published 15th December 2009 - 7 comments - 764 views -

The weary commuters of Manchester and Cape Town, of Seattle and Lima, of Auckland and Osaka must have wondered what was going on when they learned that people had to line up for six hours or more to enter the Copenhagen climate talks conference centre. "Here we are," said the exhausted workers in their buses and trams and trains, "complaining about our daily grind, when those poor people must endure so much hardship."

But it's even worse because many media outlets are saying that the Bella Centre, which officially holds 15,000, is bursting at the seams as 20,000 people attempt to cram themselves in. Yes, that's right, 20,000. But who are these people? One imagines that between politicians, scientists, the press and bloggers, some 5,000 could be assembled for a major conference, and that would be a very large crowd, but where do the other 15,000 come from?

Commentators here would be quick to point out that they are "activists", but that's a term that begs an ever bigger question: What do "activists" do that others don't? Are the tired commuters of New York and Amsterdam, who will soon be asked to bail out Tuvalu, which finds itself in danger of sinking, not climate "activists"? Are the taxpayers of Norway and Austria, who will soon be asked to furnish further billions for the kleptocrats of Africa, who are demanding compensation for their industry, not climate "activists"?

One does no like to personalize discussions, but is my older brother, a veterinary surgeon in Ireland, whose clients make their livings from the land and are very dependent on the weather, not a climate "activist", too? After all, when he's out in the middle of a wild winter night, on a lonely hillside farm, with his arm stuck up a cow's arse, because the calf in her womb is dead and the farmer wants it extracted, which means cutting it into little bits, because a living cow is worth more than a dead calf, isn't he an "activist" in the sense of being at one with nature? He and the community he operates in strive to grow food, nurture animals and cope with the whims of nature. Surely, these are as deserving of rewards and recognition as the standing army that now spends its time going from conference to conference, from airport to airport, from city to city, from hotel to hotel, from protest to protest and generating a gigantic carbon footprint.

On behalf of the tired commuters, the exhausted workers, the suffering taxpayers and the farmers beset by early rheumatism, I'd like to ask: Who are these 20,000

Category: Agriculture, | Tags: carbon footprints, cows, taxpayers, winter,


Jodi Bush on 15th December 2009:

You forgot to mention business and lobby groups… fair number of those in the mix.

Lara Smallman on 15th December 2009:

good q eamonn. i was asking myself the same thing last week.

i guess there are a lot of people who want to be a part of history. weren’t you tempted to go?

Eamonn Fitzgerald on 15th December 2009:

Tempted to go, Lara? No. Been there. And we all know that Copenhagen will be followed by an even bigger conference in Mexico City or Jakarta. The work of saving the world is never done, the dangers we face are grave and constantly morphing and there are a lot of activists out there.

Paul Montariol on 15th December 2009:

I understand your sourness but we arrive at the end and it is the moment to go up in our minds.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 16th December 2009:

I am a little concerned by the careless use of laguage among climate sceptics.

Commuting, or working as a veterinary might make you a good person, but not an activist. And activists are not necessarily good people. An activist is exactly this: someone who participates in political manifestation center to make political statements.

You don’t need to like what they do, for example I don’t like neo-fascist activists, but why start speaking new-speak?

here is the wiki-definition of <a >”“activism”</a>

Eamonn Fitzgerald on 16th December 2009:

...activists/demonstrators/protesters/thugs… Whatever you wan’t to call them, they’re making headlines today:

Federico Pistono on 16th December 2009:

Who are these 20,000?

I’ve been asking that question myself to almost everyone I met here, and I wasn’t able to figure it out.

Some say it’s not just “activists”, but people from all over the world, independents, journalists, NGOs or just curious.

And then, of course, lobbyists, and I guess the many friends and families politicians tend to bring around all the time.

But that’s just my guess.

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