Post Copenhagen Stress Disorder (PCSD)
Civil society should connect the dots around Copenhagen’s failure, pee its collective pants, and then come up with an effective plan in 2010 to cope with a rapidly changing planet.
I’d hoped the Copenhagen climate conference was a bad dream that might fade from memory after the holidays. No such luck. Over said yuletide, I corroborated my presence in Denmark via a digital photo taken by Andrew Revkin, former environment reporter at The New York Times.
During the 10 days I reported from Copenhagen, I bore witness to stories of climate breakdown underway in developing countries. I was cognizant of looming climate catastrophes in developed nations, whether through sea-level rise, drought, or disruption of supply chains to Western stores from Asian factories.
And I observed how nation states failed to incorporate the findings of climate science into economic policy, unjustly ignoring the basic aspirations of people around the world who want to be saved from terrible climate impacts.
So, how does one make sense of the disastrous Copenhagen summit, and bring perspective to its troubling outcome?
My approach was to look for patterns among seemingly disconnected climate-conference phenomena — in my case, firsthand experience with a climate obstructionist, a chaos theorist, a Danish chair and a rock star.
The climate obstructionist
On December 17, Republican Senator James Inhofe, noted U.S. opponent of climate change legislation, arrived in Copenhagen for a three-hour visit. He spent a half hour of that time holding court at the official media centre.
Photo/Andrew C. Revkin
Said Inhofe to the impromptu media scrum, "There’s no [scientific] consensus on climate change." Referring to the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia, he added that climate science was "discredited" because of the emails’ content, and that we, the journalists, whom he said were on the "left" didn’t understand the "truth."
The European journalists were stunned. A German scribe told Inhofe he was "silly."
Soon afterwards, I looked over at Eric Reguly, the Globe and Mail‘s European business correspondent.
Reguly said, "God help us."
I muttered, "We’re $%&#!"
To call Inhofe is a climate denier hardly describes his pivotal role as a climate legislation obstructionist on behalf of the Republican Party. When push comes to shove later this year, the Obama administration will be forced to "negotiate" climate legislation with the GOP.
I believe the chasm between political compromise — and the economic and climate action that’s needed to protect humanity from being waylaid by climate impacts