No snow? No Santa? No way, if we work on warming
By Leo Canty
Published: Thursday, December 24, 2009 12:06 PM EST
We may be at the cusp of an event that could reshape the season to be jolly for eons.
With all the talk about global warming, no one has yet asked the most important question: What will happen to the white Christmas in a warm world? What about Santa, the sleigh, tiny reindeer, and chimneys? The dire consequences from the impact of a balmy life on earth will surely put a damper on good will toward men. Laying off the winter legend because there’s no more winter would be just awful.
Don’t get me wrong. I hate winter, and Christmas only somewhat tempers my distaste for frostbite and snowblowers.
But a rewrite of the winter scenario for a warm-world Christmas Eve might bring us Don Ho Ho Ho skirting the globe with gifts for kids — on a flatbed surfboard being pulled by Rudolph the red-nosed dolphin and his eight fin mates, dropping presents by the palm trees decorated with care.
I’m hoping that picture may be whimsical, but there is no question we have a problem in the making. But there’s still time to change the image of that ghost of a Christmas future.
For that reason, and a few others, it’s good to know that a lot of people were at work saving Christmas in Copenhagen last week.
Coverage and information about the climate summit was widespread as the delegates mulled over serious actions needed to keep humans from burning down the house.
What you may not have heard was that 400 union members — 40 of whom were American — were in on the talks.The global-union delegation was led by our CT@Work friend, Sharan Burrow, president of the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC. Burrow is the highest-ranking union leader in the world and presented labor’s views on the issue at summit sessions.
“Trade unions support the highest ambitions for binding targets in developed countries and ambitious actions in developing nations that must limit the temperature rise to 2 degrees or less. We urge nations to accept transparency, to ensure trust through a global treaty finalized in the first half of 2010. Wealthy nations must lay the foundations for that trust with the finance and technology to kick start low carbon development, the investment to ensure climate resilience, employment and decent work,” Burrow said.
But Burrow was among those disappointed that more was not done to negotiate a solid agreement by the end of the summit.
Upon adjournment, stepped-up negotiations and world leaders who can work past their differences so everyone can start tackling the difficult problems were both missing.
Financial commitments and politics aside, Copenhagen, in my view, is really less about global warming than it is about bad policy and actions that allow the captains of business and industry to pollute our air, water, and land for the sake of riches the rest of us never touch.There are also no consequences for the atrocious planet pillaging that our children will end up paying for in many ways.
We still have a shot at achieving climate commitments that have consequences greater than a lump of dirty coal in polluter’s stockings. We can stem the tide of poisoning our planet and jump on a huge opportunity for green jobs. We can help poor nations throw out the polluting bums who are exploiting their economic vulnerability by providing resources to those countries.
And we can also use this as a new opportunity to boost America’s green industry, retooling and rebuilding our economic engine while getting the U.S. off the litterer’s list. The solid investment program for our planet suggested by unions and others brings great potential to grow jobs, the economy, fresh air, clean water — and even Christmas trees. “Those investments will transform our economies and create millions of new jobs as we rebuild after the devastation of the global financial crisis. We must all take responsibility in this global challenge,” Burrow said.
But, with all that in play and hopefully, a good agreement next year ready for the 2010 Mexico Summit, my wish to wear sneakers, shorts and Hawaiian shirts in Connecticut in January may be dashed.
But that still won’t prevent me from asking Santa Claus for a clean, cooler earth as my Christmas gift — while he’s still around, anyway.
Leo Canty is a labor and political activist. He lives in Windsor