26 October 2021

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!

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?