The Power of One

The Power of One

Delegates to the Copenhagen Conference arrive

Peculiar things heard and seen on the way to and from the climate conference. On the train today, a fellow New Yorker seeking directions I got chatting with asked whether I was Carol Browner, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama’s point person on climate change. Ruefully, I replied that I didn’t think Carol Browner would be on the metro in Copenhagen, an assessment my companion agreed with, even if, I continued, she ought to be, in the interest of reducing GHGs from private vehicles. He persisted: Hasn’t anyone told you before that you look like her? “No,” I replied, somewhat irritated, “although her hair has gotten lighter over the years.” What I didn’t say: Carol Browner must be at least 10 years if not more older than me . . . but I suppose to be (almost) mistaken for a climate leader is, well, warming (sic) to a degree.

I also caught sight at the Bella Center today of Bjorn Lomborg, the celebrity climate skeptic and Dane. He was doing media interviews on his mobile phone with a headset, undisturbed by the throng around him. I also saw former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland (who chaired a seminal commission on environment and development in the 1980s that ended up being named for her), not doing interviews.

On my way back to the apartment where I’m staying this evening, I got talking to another man who interpreted for me the announcement (in Danish) that a bomb threat (apparently unrelated to the climate talks) would delay the train we were on by a few minutes. We chatted about weather and currencies and New York (he was a fan) and Obama and, yes, the climate summit, too. “Save the world,” he said when I rose to leave. I was reminded, however, of the power of one today at the Bella Center. NGO delegations have had their number of pass-holders cut, by about 20% (the level of GHGs attributed to deforestation and forest degradation) to allow more space in the corridors and meeting rooms for members of the high-level delegations now arriving. Since I’m Brighter Green’s only delegate, I can’t be cut. Small is beautiful, E.F. Schumacher said. Today, I’d agree.

Photo Courtesy of Neil Palmer