Monday, November 30, 2015

Last Tango in Paris

 On second thought, maybe we should call it the Moonwalk. Or maybe even the Hustle.

In what's being described as a do-or-die moment, world leaders converged on Paris to dance around what to do aspirationally, sometime in the future maybe, about climate change and the death of the planet. It remains to be seen whether this Elite Urge-a-Thon will have any oxygen in it.

 President Obama, well-protected by a small security army, called the crucial United Nations summit "an act of defiance" against the recent terror attacks, and  called for cooperation.... among world leaders. He urged regular folks not to be cynical.

Meanwhile, out in the streets, police fired tear gas on regular folks in order to clear the air of voices and human bodies having the poor taste to demand action now. The climate may be changing, but police crackdowns on peaceful protests at international meetings of elites are certainly always in the global forecast. (Oops, my bad. I was told not to be cynical.)

Speaking of man-made pollution, China is cooperating in the Paris talks not a moment too soon. The atmosphere got so bad in Beijing today that life itself has had to be temporarily shut down. Factories and schools closed and residents advised to shelter in place indoors until a wind from the right direction kicks up and blows the terroristic threat into somebody else's neighborhood, or preferably way up into the stratosphere where nobody can actually see what's left of the ozone layer.

Elsewhere on the planet, where the air is still fairly breathable and peaceful protest is still allowed, millions of people came out to support climate change reversal. Sardonicky contributor "Jay-Ottawa" participated in this march in the Canadian capitol on Sunday:

Meanwhile, Prince Charles touched down in Paris to demand that governments stop fossil fuel subsidies. He should know. His mum, Queen Elizabeth, owns a fortune in uranium mines.

Meanwhile, philanthrocapitalist, education "reformer," and unelected world leader Bill Gates burned thousands of gallons of polluting private jet fuel to travel to the City of Light to announce his "initiative" for clean energy research and development. Investment opportunities for the well-connected will abound, all in the name of capitalistic concern-trolling the poor people of the world. Gates, whose Microsoft technology (and its detritus) outsourced to China helps to create the smog, is an opponent of fossil fuel divestment. Therefore, his billion-dollar pledge to "study" green energy will surely help influence the heads of state to speak softly and carry a big twig during their minuet of a talk-fest. No world leader will even think to protest the fact that the Chinese factory workers who help make Gates a gazillionaire live like prisoners while they're trying to breathe all that polluted air.

Eighty billionaires, with Gates in or near the lead, now own as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire world population. This is a guy who fancies himself a postmodern Citizen Kane, complete with the $125 million estate that he so 'umbly named Xanadu 2.0.

  Factoring in his 23-car garage, I think we can all rest assured that Bill Gates is absolutely sincere in combating climate change. Oops. There goes my cynicism again!


Ken Wallace said...

The reference to China's smog problem and labor exploitation was priceless. I sure get tired of the corporate apologists preaching that global capitalism raised more people out of abject poverty to prosperity than any other system. Somehow moving a peasant from the rice paddy to a factory dorm (w/ suicide nets) counts as "raising"??

annenigma said...

India is actually the world's most polluted country and New Delhi is the world's most polluted city. According to a World Health Organization report in 2014, New Delhi’s air quality was three times worse than Beijing, and 13 Indian cities were among the 20 most polluted in the world. An additional 1400 vehicles are added to New Delhi's roads every day.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Rebecca Solnit, over at Harper's monthly, reminds us, among other things related to COP21, that the Paris Summit on climate change will not be held in Paris. This year the leaders of the world are holed up north of Paris in a little place called Le Bourget.

"Ever since activists from around the world successfully blockaded the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in downtown Seattle in 1999, most global summits have taken place in rustic sites that are fortified into dystopias of guards, guns, helicopters, and surveillance technologies. The enforced seclusion of these settings demonstrates the power of protest in the twenty-first century, but it also demonstrates the continued ability of the elite to insulate themselves from the masses."

So the demonstrations in Paris yesterday were just a side show of Black Block nihilists who got gassed and kettled after throwing rocks and bottles at the gendarmes. The gendarmes are in no mood to play after November 13. Since Paris is in lock down for three months, a big demonstration was out of the question. More pacific organizers thought up something novel. Maybe you've seen the photos: 20,000 pairs of empty shoes neatly lined up row after row in Place de la Republique. Even Pope Francis sent a pair.

Back to Solnit essay, what do you suppose will come from world leaders meeting in Le Bourget? Will they vote to leave 90% of the carbon in the ground? Does it matter that most of the big powers are controlled by fossil-fuel corporations and titans of the global economy who need fossil-fuel to move their goods around the globe?

What is much more likely to force a cutback in carbon fuel? The answer is shoes, millions more shoes in streets around the world, shoes and boots and flip flops of all sizes. Filled.