A Clock Ticking: When Elvie Baladad Lashed out at the United Nations (UN)-Sponsored Climate Proceedings in Bangkok, Thailand Last October 2009, She Was Not Kidding. She Was Livid and She Had Every Right to Be Furious

By Constantino, Renato Redentor | Women in Action, August 2009 | Go to article overview

A Clock Ticking: When Elvie Baladad Lashed out at the United Nations (UN)-Sponsored Climate Proceedings in Bangkok, Thailand Last October 2009, She Was Not Kidding. She Was Livid and She Had Every Right to Be Furious


Constantino, Renato Redentor, Women in Action


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Representing a Philippine sector that has been reeling from the impacts of climate change rural women, Baladad spoke angrily to a crowd of women who had gathered at the entrance of the UN's headquarters in Thailand: "The only thing more insane than the weather are the officials negotiating our future inside the UN building." (1)

Her accusation was harsh but it was unassailable.

Confronted by a crisis that threatens enduring if not irreversible harm to the ability of human life to thrive with the rest of the planet, representatives of the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting countries opted instead to parley blithely, as if the task expected of them was to merely watch a fruit ripen on a branch.

"We are all chiseling away at the various pieces of the document to build a structure, but we don't know what kind of structure we are building," said one delegate during the Bangkok negotiations. (2) "'We talked about whether we are trying to build townhouses or a tower and about two elephants and how one would react if her elephant died," said another in the corridors of the UN. (3) "We also discussed mixing all the ingredients together so they are cooked before Copenhagen," where the penultimate international concurrence or collapse is expected. (4) And the men spoke in the conference halls because largely, yes, they were men about the noble need to balance the present's priorities with the hopes of tomorrow, as if they were not staring at the annihilation of all possibilities of future human well-being. As if they were debating the techniques of dying out slowly on a mass scale, but with all commas and hyphens and semi-colons given their due place in the suicide text they were negotiating.

In a large sense, it was yet again a naked display of the weaknesses and perceived strengths of men. There was a big talk about the household in crisis while avoiding real work needed by home and hearth.

If they were merely arguing about the merits of shaving razors and big cars, it would be understandable. After all, most represented the affluent. But their task was different. They were expected to make tough but absolutely necessary decisions, which made their wringing and empty posturing beyond appalling.

We live today in an era of great trepidation, brought about by the greatest threat ever confronted by human life as we know it. Climate change is upon us, but its most terrible impacts can still be stopped even reversed, if only decision makers faced the crisis with commensurate urgency today.

The answers needed to avert warming temperatures worldwide from passing into the realm of peril are not unknown. In fact, most solutions are already commercially viable and readily available.

Studies after studies have demonstrated that steep reductions in emissions are possible through a combination of pragmatic, immediate and strategic measures in the world's economies, including even those that have inflicted miniscule injury to the planet's climate?

A shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear power towards sustainable, renewable energy, harnessing the power of the wind, the sun, moving water, biomass and geothermal energy

A shift towards more efficient, smart energy utilisation.

A shift towards energy planning, towards decentralised energy systems.

A realisable revolution in the way energy is produced and used, including the rapid and broad deployment of pedestrian-friendly, working class-biased transport systems?

Food production at home for domestic consumption.

A shift away from highly polluting, GHG-intensive industrial production.

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The basics. Just basics. Nothing more but nothing less.

But no. Instead of embracing choices that are ready for deployment, delusion continues to enjoy the welcoming ears of government leaders and industry titans.

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