So here I am in Copenhagen, leaving 5 tonnes of carbon emissions in my wake (about what driving 500 km a week — from Charlottetown, PEI to Yarmouth, NS — for a year in our 2000 Jetta would emit), to “exchange ideas and debate the issues of climate change” as part of the Th!ink About It Launch Event.
The theory is, I suppose, that my two days of interactions with 81 fellow bloggers from around the world — or at least from the climate change-causing part of the world — will catapult me back home filled with the verve to blog so passionately about the Prince Edward Island side of climate change to undo the damage I’ve done to the climate by getting here.
This requires either an intense belief in the power of the word, or a certain suspension of disbelief in the absurdity of the proposition. Or something of both.
This is not the only absurdity involved in the proposition, as these two days lay the groundwork for a 3-month blogging competition, a notion packed with its own weirdness.
I suppose if you twinge your mind to think of this as a sort of “climate change Booker Prize” it’s makes slightly more sense. Except that I’m fairly certain that Aravind Adiga did not set forth to write a novel urged on by the spirit of competitive writing.
As I’ve written many times before, I write this blog because it’s the best mechanism I’ve found for processing the hornet’s nest of ideas that clutter my mind. I do it for myself, not for an audience. Although the presence of an audience — the rigor that writing in public — is integral to the process, I’ve certainly never done it with any greater purpose in mind, nor to educate, inform, or publicize any deeper issue. If you happen to learn something by reading the words in this space, that’s an accident, not my intention.
So jumping into a trans-Atlantic telephone booth an emerging as a blogger with a purpose, and, what’s more, a blogger engaged in a pitched battle to out-blog eighty competing bloggers seems, at least on the surface, like a perversion of the process.
Absurd, you might say.
So here’s my rationale: I don’t actually care all that much about climate change.
Oh, I do go on about the importance of public transit. And I happen to think of cars as evil beasts cluttering up the city. And I’ve been known to indulge in some recreational carbon offsetting.
But I do not have the climate change fire in my belly.
I was unmoved by An Inconvenient Truth. I blithely pump gallons and gallons of oil into my uninsulated house every winter. I eat strawberries from California in the winter. And kimchi dumplings flown in from Seoul.
On an intellectual level I’m on-board, and I’m certainly not a climate change denier. But climate change indignation exists at a level roughly parallel to “inappropriate typeface indignation” in my day to day life.
And while it might seem even more absurd, what with my “oh yah, climate change” attitude, to come all this way for a town meeting of the climate change passionate, maybe that’s exactly why I’m here: to be the eyes and ears of the casually disinterested.
After all, if climate change is something to be addressed by mass individual action, surely it’s the hearts and minds of the casually disinterested coal-and-oil-swilling rich North Americans that must be won over.
So that’s where I’m starting, and that’s how I’m come to terms with the overarching absurdity of the enterprise.
Let’s see where I end up after two days of “Climate Change – the EU’s response,” “The Samso experiment – When an island turned green” and “On the Road to Copenhagen – stakes and state-of-play of negotiations.”