At 4AM this morning, as I stood in line bleary-eyed, waiting for a cancelled flight and reading a sobering but beautiful collection of tiny Vonnegut essays, one piece, Requiem, struck a chord with me. An excerpt:
"The crucified planet Earth,
should it find a voice
and a sense of irony,
might now well say
of our abuse of it,
'Forgive them Father,
They know not what they do.'
The irony would be
that we know what
we are doing."
Now, as I ride the train through the hushed and snow-covered Adirondacks, making my way home on the shortest day of the year, this is on my mind as I reflect on the past weeks in Poland:
Disappointment, inspiration; hope and fear.
These four emotions riffed off each other throughout the conference for me: disappointment blindsiding hope, inspiration fueled by fear.
Somehow, even when I knew that Minister Prentice would never make a dramatic about-face in the plenary and declare progressive emissions targets for Canada, when I understood that the environment was far from Minister Renner's top priority, when I had heard diplomat after diplomat explain that Poznan was just a checkpoint, a formality, on the way to Copenhagen, I still felt that collapsing feeling inside me every time I heard the disharmony between the words of these world "leaders" and the urgency of the situation at hand.
The disheartening lack of commitment and leadership shown by Annex I countries, with Canada playing lead laggard fiddle, has helped to set the tone for negotiations over the year ahead, and it sounds like a discordant one. As the CMP was closing during the wee hours of the morning Friday night, an Indian negotiator said bitterly, after echoing many countries' disappointment over adaptation funding developments at the conference, "I think this shows us what we can expect for Copenhagen."
I desperately hope that it doesn't.
It must not.
We must ensure that 2009 brings an international climate agreement that will not allow for the melting of the Arctic sea ice sheet, entire nations being submerged, the displacement of millions of people, or the acceptance and perpetuation of the injustices behind the disproportionate distribution of the disastrous effects of climate change! And the world will not stand idly by while it happens - the most inspiring part of the conference was seeing how people from all over the globe and from all walks of life are doing everything they can to fight against climate change and fight for political climate action. The amazing team of young people that I had the honour of working with over the past two weeks has been so inspiring, and this inspiration, combined with fear, fills me with energy (kind of like in the dreams where you're about to die) to make sure that inspiration, justice, and hope are the notes that ring true through what is sure to be another emotional cacophony next year in Copenhagen. We know what we should be doing. Let's make sure there are enough of us.