Letter From New York December 9, 2009

OR: as it seems to me

While I write this, many of the world’s leaders have descended or are going to descend upon Copenhagen to attend COP 15: United Nations Climate Change Conference.   While I would follow this story in the normal course of events out of natural curiosity, I am particularly engaged in this because my major client, Odyssey Networks, has a team of four there covering the conference from an interfaith perspective and I have been leading the technical team that is charged with getting their nightly reports up on the web and available for the 127 or so organizations and news services that have said they want them.  I have been on pins and needles because of Copenhagen, Climate Change and the schedule of Mr. Obama, who has decided he will attend, putting a stick in the works of getting some credentials for our folks over there.

The whole concept of “climate change” is under siege right now because of “Climategate,” a brewing scandal out of the University of East Anglia in the U.K. that charges professors there with manipulating information and bullying others in the field to make things look worse than they are, in fact.  At least one person has temporarily stepped aside from his post while investigations proceed and the resultant brou-ha-ha has caused the number of people who say they believe in climate change to plummet just as all these folks are pulling into Copenhagen to discuss and attempt to do something about climate change.

Regardless, I am deeply engaged because I have people on the ground and can’t afford not to pay more than a little attention.

My brother asked me over the weekend if I believed in climate change and I answered this way, based on a report I had heard over the weekend.  Back in the 1920’s there was no empirical evidence smoking was bad for you but some people said: hey, wait a minute, putting smoke into your body can’t be good!  And about fifty years later we found out that those folks were right, smoking isn’t good for you.  We have now learned that empirically.  Now I can’t say categorically that climate change is happening.  I’m not a scientist and haven’t parsed all the information.  I suspect something odd is going on based on all the strange things that are happening that might, anecdotally, point to climate change – glaciers disappearing, storm patterns changing but I can’t prove it’s really climate change.

Takes me back to a day when I first moved to Los Angeles and I was walking down the street and went under a freeway overpass.  I reached out and could feel the particulates in the air and thought: hey, wait a minute, this can’t be good!  Now, regardless of climate change we are going around doing some pretty ugly things to old mother earth that are tantamount to putting smoke in her lungs and that can’t be good. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature so I am erring on the side of caution when it comes to this climate change thing.

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