COP27 started yesterday in Egypt. Ahead of the conference, Egypt has been arresting activists, set up checkpoints where police randomly stop people to check their phones and social media accounts, created a complicated process for registering for the Green Zone, and are increasing surveillance by, among other things, installing video cameras in all of Sharm el Sheikh’s taxi cabs. I have to wonder a couple of things. Why is this COP being held in Egypt in the first place where civil rights are routinely violated? And why hasn’t there been any uproar about what Egypt is doing from the UN or other countries attending the COP? Are they secretly glad and supportive of the crackdown on activists, hoping it will let them continue doing nothing while saying they are “taking steps”? Something to consider.

Are you thinking at this point, wait, wasn’t there a COP last year in Glasgow? Yes, yes there was. COPs, Conference of the Parties, happen every year. It is the annual meeting where all the rich countries from the north make promises to the global south and disappearing island nations that they do not intend to keep. It is so bad, that I heard the (possibly) president of Maldives speaking at the opening saying that it was time to do more than just make promises. The Maldives are only a meter above sea level and protected by coral reefs, reefs that are bleaching and dying from ocean warming and acidification. What happens when an entire country of 543, 620 people has to relocate?

But, you know, even if the global north keeps every promise it has made, it still would not be enough to stop global warming since those promises all fall well short of what is needed. The delegates at COP from the global north know they are failing and have stopped talking about holding warming to 1.5C and are now talking about keeping it to 2C. The global average temperature has not quite reached 1.5C, though some places have warmed beyond it, and look at what is already happening: the ice is melting faster than anyone expected, a third of Pakistan was underwater from flooding this year, droughts, fires, hurricanes and typhoons, more frequent, longer, hotter and deadlier heatwaves—not all caused by global warming but made worse because of it. 

Now just think what 2C is going to look like.

The leaders of the global north aren’t going to do anything. 

In the United States no one talks about climate. Instead it’s all about inflation and the price of gas and home heating, the war in Ukraine, defeating Russia, and provoking China while trying really hard to make it look like China is the aggressor. Instead of pouring my country’s wealth into making sure everyone has healthcare, a home, a good education, food, a job, and a good public transit system to get to their job, we are instead giving billions of dollars to the Pentagon. We continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industry and promote policies that help the rich get richer. There’s lots of lip service for equality and justice, but nothing ever truly changes. And it won’t. Not until we, the citizens make the change happen. 

Last night I watched The Woman King, a fantastic movie. At one point Izogie, a lieutenant of the Agojie (elite women warriors who do not marry or have children), tells Nawi, a young woman training to be Agojie, You are powerful. Do not give up your power. Do not give your power to anyone. 

And today, while listening to Seth Godin on the What Could Possibly Go Right? podcast, he said something quite similar. We, as individuals, are powerful but not knowing what to do in the face of big problems, we give our power to others. I am not a huge fan of Seth Godin, but he is right. When it comes to climate change, we give our power to others, to our “leaders” hoping they will fix things. Clearly they are not, but we keep hoping they will anyway. I have no faith that any great change will come from COP27; it will only be more of the same.

It’s time to realize I, you, him, her, them am and are powerful. Time to stop giving our power away. Individually we are powerful, we are each a potential agent of revolutionary change. But together we are even more powerful. Together we can save mountains, oceans, rivers, animals, trees, flowers, air, each other.

I want to say we are powerful warriors but I don’t like using military metaphors. This planet and everyone on it, human and more-than-human, has had enough of war. We need a better metaphor. A wave? An earthquake? A volcano? A mighty wind? 

Tuesday is election day in the United States. Ask your potential representatives about climate change. Vote for the ones who don’t say empty words. And then hold them, or whoever wins the election, accountable. When someone asks you what the most important issue is, say climate change. Because it is. If we address climate change in the manner it needs to be addressed, all the other issues—racism, sexism, the economy, crime, homelessness, healthcare, inflation—everything, will also be addressed. 

Take back your power. You are powerful. We are powerful. You don’t need to march in the street. You can give money, write letters, make phone calls, change your own life to better align with the values you profess and then talk to people about what you are doing and why, ask them to join you in making waves and earthquakes and lava and wind.

In the Garden

big squirrel nest in the crook of a tree
Looks cozy

All week I have been watching a squirrel, one of the babies from summer I think, build a huge nest in the first crook of Melody Maple Tree. When I’d get home from work, there the squirrel would be in the fallen leaves under the tree, stuffing their mouth with them. Then they would run up the tree to add the leaves to the nest and run back down and stuff their mouth again. The resulting nest was admirably huge. However, the placement was not good because it was like building a house in the middle of a freeway. 

James and I went out on this very windy afternoon to a sick friend’s house who lives nearby. We took his two dogs for a walk because he has been too ill to do it. We haven’t walked dogs in ages, and pleasure was had by all. When we arrived back home the gigantic squirrel nest was under the tree. I don’t know if it fell out in the wind, if other squirrels running up and down the tree knocked it out, or maybe a combination of both. But the squirrel builder will need to try again, and hopefully this time will choose a better location higher up in the tree.

In getting the chickens ready for winter we needed to get some straw bales. We put straw down on the ground in the chicken run so the Dashwoods and Nuggets don’t need to stand on cold, frozen ground with their naked feet.

cargo bike with a bale of straw on each pannier
who needs a car when you have a cargo bike and a silly husband?

When we had a car we bought straw from the urban farm store in St Paul. But we inquired at our local hardware store a few blocks away and they have straw. Putting the e-cargo bike to good use, we bought two bales, which will hopefully get us all the way through winter. We assumed the bales would come tied with twine like every bale I have ever bought or seen did. Sadly, they were encased in plastic. Sure it made it cleaner to get home, but now we have two big wastes of plastic that will go to the landfill eventually instead of twine that I would reuse in the garden to tie up plants. 

So next year we will inquire first, and if they are again in plastic, find some other nearby place to get the straw bales. 

Meanwhile, the weather has been unseasonably warm and the chickens have been able to spend lots of time roaming the garden. With this weekend’s time change however, I don’t think there will be enough daylight left in the evenings when I get home from work to let them out of the run. It will be weekends only until the snow piles up and no one wants to spend time roaming around.

Eat, drink, and be merry, for soon we shall be semi-hibernating.

On a side note, I am sorry to have not yet replied to the fantastic comments on my last post. I will get to them as soon as I am able, hopefully in the next day or two.

  • Graphic Novel: Birds of Maine by Michael DeForge. It’s like the PG-13 version of Effin Birds addressing climate change, economics, and social issues.
  • Book: Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s a very long short story or a novella (what is the page distinction between the two anyway?) about how the wizard island of Roke came to be along with a few other short stories that take place in different times during and after the novels with the final story setting things up for the last Earthsea novel.
  • Podcast: Weaving Voices: The Economic Waters We Swim in. Jason Hickel, the author of Less is More that I mentioned reading recently, talks about capitalism, growthism, and degrowth. If you think the book sounds interesting but you don’t actually want to read it, he manages to cover a lot of it here, just without all the details.
  • The Woman King, as mentioned above. You know white people make movies based on historical events all the time and generally get zero to very little pushback about accuracy. Black people make a movie and get accused of historical revisionism. Viola Davis, who is 100% badass, and stars as Nanisca, had to even address the critics, and if you do a search on the topic, you will find there are lots and lots of articles about what is and isn’t true in the movie. It’s a movie, not a documentary! And it is an effing awesome movie at that. You should watch it.

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16 thoughts on “Good COP, Bad COP

  1. I do agree with much of your post, but I’m not sure about how to make the elected people accountable. Here in Europe we don’t have the US habit of calling our reps or writing to them. I have seen so many politicians pay lip service to climate change without doing anything serious about it, just marginal actions. I will give some money to Greenpeace and other NGOs, but I’m not clear if that will be efficient or not.

    1. Smithereens, maybe it’s time folks in Europe start calling their elected reps! Imagine how surprised the reps will be and what might happen when their constituents let them know they are paying attention.

  2. After all the political work I’ve done since 2016 and all the hope I had for this last election, I’m discouraged. No one I voted for won. No one.
    There are a lot of encouraging thoughts about what the election says about the state of our democracy in today’s papers, but it seems to me they’re glossing over a lot of bad.

    1. Well crud Jeanne, sorry to hear no one you voted for won. It is discouraging, but don’t give up! Keep working to help people see the threats to democracy.

  3. I agree about COP27, unfortunately—it’s just not going to deliver anything meaningful. We need a much bigger movement to effect change ourselves instead of waiting for our leaders to change the system that they are benefiting from. In Europe, I’ve definitely seen more people talking about climate change and taking it seriously—in Denmark, where I am now, it was a major issue in their national elections last week. But the UK is more like the US—head in the sand, more concerned about reducing energy prices than tackling climate change. I think they’re just behind, though, and posts like yours will help people to catch up and start holding politicians accountable.

    1. The US and UK are such neoliberal bedfellows thanks the Reagan and Thatcher. And neither of them can seem to give up their imperialist aims. It’s really crazy-making!

  4. The line about not giving your power to anyone reminds me that Elif Shafak often talks about how girls, at a certain age, for the most part, stop speaking up and putting themselves forward – that’s something that needs to change. I wish I had heard it when I was young.

    I swear sometime I will actually get to my ‘reading all of Ursula K. Le Guin’ project! Maybe.

    1. Oh Julé, good parallel with girls. It is true. I wish I had heard that when I was young too, but I was always told to sit still and be quiet.

      When you do get to your Le Guin project, be sure to listen to the Crafting with Ursula episodes on Tin House’s Between the Covers podcast. They are so very good!

    1. Mighty like plate tectonics, I love that Melanie!

      I’ve been thinking about how I might be able to reuse the plastic and I think in spring I might try to make it work as a sort of mini “greenhouse” to warm the soil and get sprouts going outdoors sooner than they would otherwise. We’ll see if it works!

  5. I know you don’t want plastic in general, but I wonder if now that you have it, that it could be cut into something like tarps to capture dew to save and water your plants, or be used to cover new plants in the spring after they come up but it still freezes over night. Repurpose it somehow?

  6. So very true about white filmmakers of historical movies… I’ll try to watch this one.

    We do give away our power. Or feel like we don’t have any to begin with. And those in power love that, so they can keep doing what they want to do. Thanks for the reminders. Egpyt is an odd choice for this gathering.

    Hope the squirrels can get a more secure nest built soon! We are definitely heading into semi-hibernation time. Maybe more time for movies.

    1. Yup Laila, those in power want to keep us all divided so we don’t realize how much power we actually have. It’s why corporations and the Republicans keep trying to break unions.

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