Who knew that global warming, gender, and population could be cool (pun semi-intended)? Last Friday night, Brighter Green co-sponsored a panel discussion on these very topics. Sure, the speakers, June Zeitlin, formerly of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and Bob Engelman from the Worldwatch Institute, really know their stuff and are engaging speakers. Yes, the student leaders at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development were extremely well-organized and unflappable, particularly Shoshanna Brown, president of the student public health group at Steinhardt. And yes, climate change is in the news a lot these days (finally). But, it was a Friday night in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Who was going to show up to learn, listen, and discuss?
It’s fair to say that the speakers and the organizers, including me, were amazed. The crowd was standing room only, literally. We had to take a quick pause for more chairs to be brought into the room. Even then, a few people had to make due with the venting system ledge. Total attendance? Between 70 and 75. I’ve been organizing events in New York City for many years (more than I might care to say, although, of course, I started young). In the age of Twitter, PDAs, Netflix, video on demand, and more, this was some crowd. Numbers-wise. And also engagement-wise.
Great questions and issues arose after the great questions and issues that arose during the formal presentations. Rights. Economics. Rural and urban. Market mechanisms and gender entry points. The Grameen phone enterprise in Bangladesh and other countries. Possible quotas for women to get equal or equitable representation in climate change negotiations. The gender toll of natural disasters. Past and future population numbers and the current climate crisis. Overshoot of carrying capacity. The role of gender in policy-making. Meat consumption in the industrialized world as a gendered issue. Where we all go from here.
One possible path: more panels like this. Moves are underfoot. Perhaps not only on Friday nights. Happy International Women’s Day, 2009. Spring in the northern hemisphere isn’t far behind.