Dispatches from Paris: the stakes are high as climate talks open

click to enlarge Dispatches from Paris: the stakes are high as climate talks open - kelly benjamin
kelly benjamin
Dispatches from Paris: the stakes are high as climate talks open

Imagine a world where the dominant species excretes a noxious substance so damaging to their fragile ecosystem that it will make large parts of their planet totally uninhabitable over just a few generations. Now imagine that the leaders of this species get together every time the planet revolves around its star to discuss how to stop making the nasty stuff that destroys everything, but year after year the problem gets worse.

Throw in some of the planet's dimmer specimens' complete denial that a problem even exists to begin with (and willingness to kill for the ability to continue happily excreting said noxious substance) and you have the basis of a really kick-ass sci-fi apocalypse story.

Alas, this is no fiction; this is where we are at present.

For the 21st year in a row, the U.N. is convening their "Conference of Parties" to discuss exactly how to tackle the problem of manmade climate change. COP21 began Monday in Paris in the shadow of the Nov. 13 terrorist attack, the worst France has seen since World War II. In the wake of the attack, the French government declared a State of Emergency outlawing the planned protests and marches that were estimated to attract up to one million people demanding climate justice and a strong U.N. deal to cut global greenhouse gas emissions.

Organizers were forced to cancel Sunday's major protest march. But

click to enlarge Dispatches from Paris: the stakes are high as climate talks open - kelly benjamin
kelly benjamin
Dispatches from Paris: the stakes are high as climate talks open
 in place of scores of protesters Sunday morning, thousands of shoes covered the ground in the Plaza de la Republique, where the march would have begun, as a symbol of those who would couldn't be there due to the French government's clampdown on dissent.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the talks.

"A political moment like this may not come again," he told assembled world leaders. "We have never faced such a test but neither have we encountered such an opportunity."

President Obama, in Paris to assure a commitment on the part of the U.S. on lowering carbon pollution, said in his opening statement that "the U.S. recognizes our role in creating the problem and we embrace our responsibility to do something about it." (Scroll down for President Obama's full speech.)

Can we figure out how to survive without excreting toxic substances that will ultimately kill everything? Will our species be able to avert disaster and stop ourselves from destroying our planet?

Stay tuned.

Kelly Benjamin will be providing CL with periodic updates from the U.N. Climate Summit and associated events in Paris over the next 2 weeks.

About The Author

Kelly Benjamin

Kelly Benjamin is a a community activist and longtime Creative Loafing Tampa Bay contributor who first appeared in the paper in 1999. He also ran for Tampa City Council in 2011...
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