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It won’t be long

12/18/09

Having taken my last final for 4 hours, my professor and I ventured out into Copenhagen’s freezing wind to join the rest of the class at Okstenhallen, a space for NGOs, the civil society. Today is the 17th December, just one day before Mr. Obama arrives. Today is the global day of fasting. Today, more than three thousand people worldwide have joined the global climate fast as a hundred and twelve leaders sit together at the Bella Center and bargain the survival of mother earth. Today, hundreds of civil society members have come together, here at Ostenhallen to celebrate the “Vigil for Survival” event.

As the ceremony began, all the LCDs, which were broadcasting the world leaders as they bargain the survival of people and mother earth, were shut down. “We have been listening to them for the past decades, and years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes. Now, we should be listening to each other as we tell our stories,” said the MC of the ceremony as people made their way towards the stage holding the candles each representing ten thousand people who demand a real deal.

The audience is moved as Bill McKibben, an American environmentalist and writer gave an inspiring speech. “One hundred twelve countries have agreed to 350 and 1.5 degrees while a stubborn  46 super powers still cling to 2 degrees,” says McKibben. Though he resents the idea of 99.99% of the civil society being shut out from the official negotiations, he is optimistic that the road won’t be long. “ I was at Kyoto,” he commented, “there was no such thing like shutting out the people because there weren’t many of us. Now, we have come together this far. And they are scared.”

A round of applause filled the air as a 25-year old Swedish girl, Sarah, shared her uncommon experience of 42-day fast. She never realized she’d do something magical—living without food for 42 days, for 6 weeks, for more than a thousand hours. Now, she has done it and she wants to show the whole world that it is not impossible to do things that seem impossible. Anna, who has also been fasting for 42 days, says, “It is not easy to reduce our living standard to this level, especially for those born in over consumed society. But we made it and inspired people all over the world. After all, being with people who you love is what makes us really happy not the luxurious life style. That is what the sustainable future is about. We can live simply so that others can simply live”, she added.

I was almost moved to tears as amazing artists performed the song “Survival is not negotiable.”  Yes, the time is running short. The mother earth is crying. Thousands are dying from climate related consequences every day as world leaders gather here at Copenhagen. It is ironic that so much energy, money and effort have been put into this conference just to produce a treaty that would meet no one’s needs. Though we have been grossly disappointed by this, we are not letting this go. We all can do take-home exams—making networks, going locally, trans-regionally and nationally and building up the momentum. Yes, it might be bumpy but it will not be a long road.

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