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Wonkette had a funny pre-climate change summit item about members of Congress, even conservative Republicans, fighting to go to Copenhagen. The story was headlined “Not EVERYONE In Congress Can Go On Class Trip To Denmark.” Last week, twenty House members joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a junket to Copenhagen, where they accomplished absolutely nothing.
The same battle for a ticket to the summit took place at environmental groups around Washington (and the world), and green groups also didn’t accomplish anything in Copenhagen, other than burning vast quantities of jet fuel to get there. Two people I know described a generalized clamor among D.C.-based greens to trek off to Copenhagen, with the World Resources Institute alone reportedly sending a delegation of about two dozen people.
Mostly the green groups sat around and waited to be briefed about the summit proceedings by the official delegations, then sent out emails asking their members to contact President Obama and demand action (or, in the case of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, to send a video message to its “Repower Wall” and tell world leaders “that you are committed to bold action on climate in America.”)
Was the summit outcome changed in any way by the presence of thousands of greens from the U.S., and around the world? Not likely by one bit, other than for propping up the Danish hotel, restaurant and bar industries. An international group called Avaaz.org sent out a mass email Sunday claiming victory even though world leaders “reached a weak agreement in Copenhagen that fails to set the emissions targets needed to prevent catastrophic global warming”:
But while leaders failed to make history, people around the world did. In thousands of vigils, rallies and protests, hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and millions of petition signatures, an unprecedented movement rose to this moment. After hearing the result of the talks, one member from Africa wrote “It takes a lot to get an elephant moving, but when you do it is hard to stop…the elephant is moving…”
And of course there was a link to click on “to say ‘thank-you’ to all the other amazing people who participated, see pictures, video and reports on what we’ve done in the last week, and join a global, instant translation multilingual live chat where we can all exchange words of wisdom for the road ahead.”
I witnessed a similar phenomenon in Brazil in 1992, when I was a reporter for the Associated Press during the Earth Summit. Thousands and thousands of greens poured in for that affair, spending enough organizational and personal money to preserve most of the Amazon rain forest.
Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for fundraising letters from all those green groups on their way home from Copenhagen. Somebody has to pick up the Danish bar tab.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”