Month 4, Day 26: Don’t Bother Us, We’re Busy.

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change has called for an International Climate Court, where environmental offenders would be called to account. The Cochabamba conference sounds fantastic, and I applaud the initiative of Bolivia’s Evo Morales, who…

…also announced plans to mount a referendum of 2 billion people on solutions to the climate crisis within a year.

Speaking at the close of the four-day World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, Morales called on the UN to listen to the voice of the poorest. “The UN has an obligation to listen to its peoples and social forces. If the UN doesn’t want to lose its authority, they should apply the conclusions of this conference. And if they don’t, I am convinced that the peoples will apply their wisdom, recommendations and documents,” he said.

Wouldn’t you know it? The U.S. Government couldn’t be bothered

….aw, hell. Just read the letter.

Dear President Obama and Secretary Clinton,

I write to express my deep disappointment that the United States Government thought so little of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba that it “…politely declined to send as much as a low-level observer to the historic summit, which drew more than 31,000 people from all over the world, and representatives from almost 50 governments,” according to the U.K. Guardian.

Mr. President: after the debacle in Copenhagen many of us who worked incredibly hard to get you elected swallowed our disappointment and hoped that we would see stronger actions on climate change. We still hope that your administration will keep its promise to respect the findings of climate scientists, and we still hope to see signs that you are ready to treat climate change and global warming as the planetary emergencies they are. But your recent announcement of plans for exploratory offshore drilling is incredibly distressing, given the abysmal safety record of offshore rigs (one example of which is leaking 42,000 gallons a day into the Gulf of Mexico as I write).

But this letter isn’t about offshore drilling (I’m mailing under separate cover a copy of a comment I sent to the Minerals Management Service EIS Scoping Process). This letter has me wondering if the Obama Administration is really serious about including the voices of the poor and disenfranchised in a global conversation about the realities of climate change…and concluding, sadly, that it isn’t.

The poor and disenfranchised certainly deserve a voice. They’re the ones who are going to die in the greatest numbers. They’re the ones who are going to lose their homelands, who will fall ill with dengue fever, whose food supplies will diminish, whose livelihoods will be destroyed. Why, then, is a conference of indigenous peoples not deemed worthy of a single observer? Massive corporate interests attract the obeisances of government bureaucrats and elected officials, even as they plunder the world’s economies and continue a path of destructive consumption that is increasingly likely to lead us to a dystopian planet unfit for human habitation….a planet where our grandchildren (and yours) are going to be struggling for survival against ever-greater odds.

If you’re serious about “including all voices” in the conversation, then your administration needs to reach out to the people whose lives are being destroyed by American negligence, exploitation and profiteering. The United States must become a genuinely responsible citizen of the planet. We have only one chance to get this right, and the solution to the climate crisis cannot come from the boardrooms of multinational corporations alone; it must come from the world’s citizens, rich and poor alike.

By refusing to send a delegate to Cochabamba, the United States has again demonstrated how lightly it takes the pressing concerns of the world’s indigenous people. “Boys throw stones at frogs in fun, but the frogs do not die in fun, but in earnest,” wrote the Greek philosopher. As the planet heats up, the poor will not die in fun, but in earnest.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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