When Yeb Sano, the chief negotiator from the Philippines, announced he would stop eating during the COP -- in response to global inaction that is leading to increased terrifying weather events, like Typhoon Haiyan -- until (if) real progress was made at the talks, several members of our Walk for Our Grandchildren (see my previous posts) list-serve signed on in support. I didn't fast the whole time, but I did for 32 hours the first week and another 32 the second week, taking only a few liquids. It made me appreciate what good, varied and plentiful food I'm able to eat the rest of the time, and made me think more about the suffering in the Philippines, and to want to do more to ease it and to try to diminish the terrible impact of future storms. Click here to watch a two-minute segment in which Yeb talks about his brother burying bodies in their home town and his own decision to fast during the talks.
My husband Rob is an epidemiologist. That's someone who studies the causes and occurrences of disease. He tells a story to his Epi I class at Yale about an orthopedist who got a lot of business from people tripping on a broken sidewalk in front of his office. He'd fix their broken legs, but more and more people had accidents. An epidemiologist would look to the cause and suggest fixing the sidewalk.
I remembered that story when I heard about the global response to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. American Marines are flying in to distribute relief supplies. So are the Chinese. Yet together, American and Chinese greenhouse gas emissions account for a huge part of the problem that's leading to disasters like Haiyan -- which has been called the most powerful typhoon (what we call a hurricane) ever to make landfall.
I think more people are starting to appreciate the reality of climate change, but not so many people are willing to engage politically or change their lifestyle to try to prevent the worst damage, which, if current trends continue, will see positive feedback loops that will make parts of the earth uninhabitable. I know some folks say it's counter-productive to focus on individual lifestyle changes, but I think we need that as well as a fundamental shift in national and international priorities as set by the fossil fuel giants. Here's a link to a fascinating interview Amy Goodman did with two climate scientists who are (like Jim Hansen) coming out from behind their scientific objectivity to sound the alarm. After all, who better than the experts to tell it like it is?