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?
About the author
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