By Cheryl Mahoney
Copenhagen. It’s the capital of Denmark. In Viking days, there was a fishing village on the spot. In the present day, the city is considered one of the most livable in the world, the waters of the bay are so clean you can swim in them, and 36% of the population bikes to work.
And why, you ask, am I talking about Copenhagen? If I was going to pick capital cities at random, I’d probably talk about London. But it’s Copenhagen that has become a big focus in certain circles recently. And in those circles, “Copenhagen,” used as in “two more weeks to Copenhagen” or “send a message to Copenhagen” or “we’re gathering a delegation for Copenhagen,” hasn’t really meant the city at all. It’s been short-hand for the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, occurring in Copenhagen and starting today. Delegates from all over the world are meeting in Copenhagen to talk about the future–theirs, yours and mine.
World leaders are convening to make promises and plans for cutting the emissions from their respective countries, in order to reduce the CO2 we’re putting into the atmosphere and, it is hoped, keep the planet from growing dangerously warmer.
I’ve waxed eloquent (I hope it was eloquent) about climate change, global warming and the environment before (here, here and here too) so rather than trying that again, I thought today I’d concentrate on resources. Not the kind of resources we’re hoping to preserve, but resources for learning about Copenhagen, learning about the situation, and taking action.
First, I recommend reading “Closing the Gaps” in The Economist. I never liked math and trying to fathom the economy is…challenging, but this article is excellent for explaining the international situation (read: politics) going into Copenhagen. It seems simple enough–cut emissions or everyone dies–but of course it’s not. Well, on some level it is. But politically it’s not, and that’s what’s going to count at the conference.
Next, I want to point you to two inspiring videos about the effects of the climate change. I don’t know where you live, but if like me you’re in the United States (and if you’re not in New Orleans), we’re fairly insulated from the effects of global warming. Sure, on a hot day I joke that it’s global warming, but in actual fact I’m not seeing the effects first-hand. But some people are. In Bangladesh, where storms and rising waters are forcing people from their homes. Or on Everest, where mountain climbers are watching their mountain melt.
Now, hopefully, you’ve been inspired about the crisis, and maybe frustrated by the complications and probable foot-dragging of the politics. What can we do about it all? You can start by checking out 350.org, and Repower America, and Seal the Deal 2009 (who’ve registered more than a million hours of volunteering for the planet!) They’ll all give you ideas for taking action. Are you on Twitter? Follow @350 @WWF_Climate @algore @billmckibben @greenpeace and @LiveEarth. I’m betting they’re sharing ideas too.
And plant a tree. Because trees are good.