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Day 8 – What about the Island Nations?

6 joulukuun, 2015

The lack of proper sleep and constant stress is starting to get to me. I woke up before six again (after maybe 4-5 hours of rest) and couldn’t sleep any more. I start to get this feeling the walls are coming down on me, and I’m finding totally new measures for how much I can miss my family. There is a constant feeling of losing the last shred of control of pretty much anything, and I feel constantly just seconds away from crying. It’s worst in the morning, but gets better as the day goes by. Anyway, I need to get my shit together and stop worrying about how many books we can give out and what we will do with the rest and so forth. We’ll work it out.

David and Derek came for one last interview in the morning before they were off to Senegal. Me and Janne chatted up what has been happening; the teargas, police, getting lost with the wrong address, meeting all these famous climate scientists and the whole project.

Apparently there is a new friend following us with a camera. Frankie is finishing up his documentary “The Good Reactor” and wanted to get some more material. After some coffee and planning, we started off to our next location.

It was this event hosted by the Island Nations. They are a group of small nations whose very existence is at stake, and for them, the current target of +2 C is just too much. That much warming will condemn their countries to a watery grave. So they are pushing for 1.5 degrees target, which would get them at least a chance. They simply do not have anything to lose, because with current target of +2 C they have already lost everything.

So we went there with lots of books, expecting a fresh air of discussion and new people to meet.

There was nobody there

There was an installation of pictures from the Island Nations. And nobody. No visitors, just the security guy and the info-booth, explaining to us that yes, this IS the event we are looking for. Even though there was nobody there, except us.

Why? Why was nobody there, why there was only a standing installation in the hallway. Why there was no debates, discussions and even demands. Then it hit me with a wave of almost sickening sadness. Nobody cared.

Next door, there were young girls doing a photoshoot, in the hopes of getting to be models. And in the hallway next to them, the hopes and futures of the Island Nations were being slowly ignored to death.

The Two Pathways

The ironies still keep popping to my mind. Modeling, of the many, many professions we have in our current society, could be described as something totally dependable on someone else providing the basic necessities in our lives – and then some. People can be professional models because we are so productive. And we are so productive, because we use so much external energy, with machines, chemicals, factories and advanced materials.

And that external energy is over 80 percent fossil fuels. And as we use fossil fuels, we are sinking the Island Nations.

We have two basic pathways if we even think about saving the islanders. Either we suddenly start producing and consuming much, much less energy, and make the “photo-models” of the world unemployed, with the possibility of a life in subsistence farming without modern health care, education, security, energy services and such. Or we clean up our energy production on a scale and speed unimaginable to most of us right now.

I know this is a radical simplification, but the basic premise is undeniable (which we will go into in much more depth in our upcoming book I am currently working on). Only high productivity on agriculture and industry enables those beloved things we call the service-industry or non-material economy to exist, and even grow their share of the economic pie. This premise is true in our current system of financial capitalism. And it is true in any other way we can organize our society.

After the sad episode in the Island Nations site we got into a train and headed to the Gallery. We found a good place to give out books in the shuttle-busses that brought people to the conference. They were mostly English speaking, they were interested in the subject, and last but not least, they had nowhere to run. Eric pulled his amazing performance for us several times, and everyone just loved it.

A glimmer of hope

In that bus, we ran into what can only be called a very bright glimmer of hope. We met with some young activists from a Scottish NGO called 2050 Scottish Youth Climate Group. We chatted a bit with them, and they were totally on the same track of thought we have. We have to use everything we have, and more, to solve this climate-crisis. It was so nice to meet young, smart people who have refused to dig themselves into these decades old positions on various environmental matters that the major environmental groups have prepared for them. And neither are they accepting the current dogma of forced economical growth at all costs and the growing gap between those who own it all and those who do not.


Ben is nailing it.

In the Gallery, we got to follow a great presentation from Ben Heard. That guy is so effortless, pleasant and no-nonsense while speaking it boggles my mind. Three points struck my eye on the presentation more than others, given that they seemed to be in such a big contradiction (we also touch them briefly in our book Climate Gamble).

Ben presented a slide of various future energy scenarios. WWF had by far the lowest estimate for our future energy use. While it is another discussion how they have come up with so low numbers, they still envision the equivalent of 250 million more hectares of land more or less devoted to energy crops. This is equivalent to the current amount of land we have for farming wheat (240 Mha), our biggest agricultural crop. These are the guys who should be – as The World Wide Fund for Nature – most worried about biodiversity loss, which results from humans increasing their direct use of our planets ecosystems for their own benefit.

The contradiction is so immense that it is actually hard to grasp. And as I have pointed this out to some WWF employees in the past, it seems most of them have no idea these kinds of policies are being suggested by their employer. Could someone there slap the left hand and tell it what the right hand was doing?

Anyway, Ben’s presentation was splendid, and it got even more so, as the bunch of us (me, Janne, Eric, Ariane, Robert, Ben, Tom, Frankie and Urs) went for a lovely dinner, chatting it away like the oldest of friends, even though many of us had just met a few days ago. It is hard to put words on how pleasant, encouraging and simply nice it all was.


A perfect end to another busy day; dinner with good friends to keep me company.

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