26 October 2021

A Message to All the Women Attending the Climate Talks (COP26) in Glasgow

This year's international climate change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will be held the first two weeks of November in Glasgow, Scotland. With the UK and Italy co-hosting this all-important COP (2020's COP was postponed due to Covid-19), Glasgow was chosen as the site due to its experience in hosting international events at facilities deemed first-rate (the Scottish Event Campus or SEC), and its commitment to sustainability

Indeed, Glasgow was recently awarded the status of Global Green City, and it is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Good on you, Glasgow!

It was nine years ago that I sent out this heartfelt request to all the women who are going to attend the Copenhagen climate talks. Today, I send it again, to all the women, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, nieces, cousins, godmothers and girlfriends who are attending the climate talks in Glasgow. And to all the grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins, godmothers and girlfriends of all the men who will be attending the Glasgow climate talks, please speak to them! Speak up for the sake of all the children ... of all species.  

A request to all the women attending the climate change talks! 

PLEASE WEAR BRIGHT COLOURS! Please inject some life into the talks — wear the colours of flowers and forests and sunsets and fresh fruit and children's smiles.
BE A MOTHER OR A GRANDMOTHER FIRST. Believe in your power! The "powers that be" need to hear that all the mothers of the world want what's best for the children of all species. Please represent all the mothers and grandmothers around the globe. Even if you don't have your own biological or adopted children, you are still a mother of all the children, everywhere. Speak up for them. 

REMEMBER THAT CLIMATE CHANGE KNOWS NO BORDERS. Try to forget that you're in Glasgow, Scotland representing your own country. Think of the planet as one nation, one biosphere, one shared home within one shared atmosphere that knows no boundaries. Speak for all human beings, as well as the rest of Nature, which has no seat and no voice at the talks — unless you represent her there. 

LET COMPASSION BE YOUR COMPASS. Remember that prosperity and a thriving economy are impossible if the natural environment is ailing. We must get our priorities right! If a decision doesn't have the Earth and the children's future at heart, then that decision is not a compassionate one and not a viable one. 

CALL FOR ZERO CARBON ALONG WITH SOME URGENCY IN ACHIEVING IT. Try to rev up the imaginations of world leaders and negotiators of all ilks (even the heartless, uncreative ones). Help them envision the Golden Age of Renewable Energy that we must quickly achieve.

LET COURAGE GUIDE YOU. Women are courageous in so many — often unsung — ways. Courage in Glasgow, though it won't be easy, will be simple. What a privileged position you are in! Please take advantage of it and be brave enough to speak up for all those who have so little — now and in the future. Be the peaceful warriors who safeguard the children. Be willing to stand up, join arms, and say no (or yes!). 

REMEMBER THE GREAT WOMEN WHO HAVE ALREADY DEMONSTRATED THEIR COURAGE, women like Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas, Patricia Wright, Donella Meadows, Berta Cáceres, Hazel Henderson, Sylvia Earle, Erin Brokovich, Sister Dorothy Stang, Chai Jing, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Lois Gibbs, the women of the Chipko Movement, Beatrix Potter, Greta Thunberg (and other young activists), Wangari Maathai, Julia Butterfly Hill, Betty Krawczyk, Vandana Shiva, Starhawk, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Hildegard of Bingen, Harriet Nahanee. Stand on their shoulders — and be climate heroes in Glasgow!
p.s. Whose name is missing? Send me the name of your female eco-hero (and a bit about her) in the comments section.
(click here to listen to this song)
by Joyce Johnson Rouse (Earth Mama)

I am standing on the shoulders
of the ones who came before me
I am stronger for their courage, I am wiser for their words
I am lifted by their longing for a fair and brighter future
I am grateful for their vision, for their toiling on this Earth

We are standing on the shoulders 
of the ones who came before us
They are saints and they are humans, they are angels,
they are friends
We can see beyond the struggles and the troubles 
and the challenge
When we know that by our efforts things will be
better in the end

They lift me higher than I could ever fly
Carrying my burdens away
I imagine our world if they hadn't tried
We wouldn't be here celebrating today

I am standing on the shoulders of the ones 
who came before me
I am honored by their passion for our liberty
I will stand a little taller, I will work a little longer
And my shoulders will be there to hold 
the ones who follow me 

They lift me higher than I could ever fly
Carrying my burdens away
I imagine our world if they hadn't tried
We wouldn't be so very blessed today

I am standing on the shoulders of the ones 
who came before me
I am honored by their passion for our liberty
I will stand a little taller, I will work a little longer
And my shoulders will be there to hold 
the ones who follow me 
My shoulders will be there to hold  
the ones who follow me

A Message to All the Men Attending UN Climate Conferences

Almost every year, I implore all the women who will be attending the COPs (big UN climate conferences / negotiations) to be the embodiment of Mother Earth, to represent and speak for all the children, of all species — and to wear bright colours while doing it.

But I don't want to leave out all the men who attend these Conferences of the Parties each November. The climate emergency is now so urgent that we can't do this without you. So here is my invitation to you — the world's grandfathers, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, cousins, husbands, partners, godfathers, comrades and best buddies.


SHOW OFF YOUR ECOLOGICAL SMARTS. During the negotiations, remember that we are facing (some sooner than others) a threat to our very existence. Our lives and livelihoods, our food security and water sources, our homes and (for some) entire homelands are threatened by this climate crisis — this enemy of our own making, this foe with no face. 

So share your ecological literacy, your understanding of the importance of biodiversity. Call others on their eco-illiteracy and their lunacy or lack of logic. Admit what you don't understand. Don't be afraid to pose questions (especially "stupid" questions ... many of us are thankful for those!). Name evil where you witness it.

We can't eat coal. We can't drink oil. We can't breathe natural gas. It is neither money nor the burning of fossil fuels that gives us life. They merely give us ease. Speak up for the true necessities of life.

In his "solider uniform"

DON'T BE A "SOLDIER" FOR YOUR COUNTRY, BE A WARRIOR FOR YOUR CHILDREN ... FOR ALL THE CHILDREN. Arrive with compassion in your heart, courage in your pocket, and creative solutions in your briefcase. SPEAK UP and STAND UP! Then man up (a term I've never understood until now). Your job, since time began for our species, has been to protect those more vulnerable — especially the children. At the COPs, your vital role is to protect the right of all children to a viable biosphere, to a stable climate ... and to a future.

YOU CAN WEAR BRIGHT COLOURS, TOO! Those suits you wear seem so drab and boring. You're not soldiers — you don't have to wear a uniform. Cut yourselves free this year. Undo your ties! Wear pink shirts or yellow shirts. Wear bright blue or green shirts. Be a feast to your own eyes. ;-)

Anote Tong, climate change activist and former Kiribati president
Let what you wear be a symbol of what you care about and what you will stand up for. Dress like the day, not the middle of the night — like a meadow of wildflowers in bloom, not the soot-begrimed walls of buildings during the Industrial Revolution. 

Be inspired by what men in the least developed (and therefore least polluting) regions and countries of the world wear. (How did business suits come to be synonymous with pollution and, well, death?) Wouldn't it be fun to be more colourful and more comfortable this year? And how will you come up with the creative solutions we need in order to address the climate crisis if you're dressed in your dreary, anemic, lackluster, cheerless, monotonous, and decidedly unimaginative suits? (Can you tell I'm not a fan of "the suit"?)

Mithika Mwenda, secretary general of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
IT'S TIME FOR EVERYONE TO GROW UP. LIFE IS NOT A GAME. Men need to take it seriously, too. Life (both your own and this planet's) is a precious and sacred gift, and it comes with responsibilities once we become adults. Why continue to play games (with our survival!) well into adulthood? 

Most certainly, life is not a zero-sum game. There are no winners when even one of us is losing. And right now, we're all losing — even those of you who feel like winners. (If one doesn't understand how we're all losing, one could do more research before heading to the climate conference.) Perhaps you can have some fun turning this into a win-win-win sort of game.
Finally, if you know any women who are going to this year's COP, please invite them to listen to this request. And please, if the globe is going to be on fire, let it be with the passion and fervor of those of you who are going to the COP to help safeguard the future and save the world!