I have probably been to about 10 different side events since being here, all held by different oorganizations and all focusing on different subjects, some in direct opposition to one another. Yet despite their differences, all can agree on the one common goal and focus of the conference: lowering greenhouse gas emissions. While this may seem like the uniting force behind this cause, what it does is open the doors to several avenues of how to ultimately reach this goal. This is good, but difficult. Every organization is looking at the problem of climate change as an opportunity to do things "right". Unfortunately, "right" does not mean the same thing to the same people. For instance, I went to a really interesting side event regarding the ineffectiveness of REDD, not because it won't necessarily reduce GHG emissions, but instead because of the social and political influences this could have on South Americans. On a different scale, one side event I went to addressed the need to implement sensitivity to women when developing anti-climate change intiatives or adaptations because women are more effected by climate change then men are, yet the humanitarian response to disaster relief side event I went to didn't even mention women at all.
And don't even get me started on how different the business focused side event was.
It makes a person want to scream because it seems as if there is no way to address the overall issue of climate change while still giving the remotest time of day to every party that is effected because---everyone is effected! It seems impossible.
I think this is a very normal reaction to coming to something like this. The best thing that I can do, I am learning, is be open to everything that comes across my path. I put myself in others shoes while still being grateful for the comfort and safety of my cozy little home in Astoria, Oregon in comparison to many other places in the world.
Changing the subject, my throat hurts so bad and I blame Poland. Walking around outside and taking the tram everywhere-while economically and environmentally sound-is killing my throat because of the extremely dirty diesel fuel used in cars here. Also everyone smokes. Like, everyone. I think I might come back to the States sounding like Janis Joplin or something, so everyone, be prepared for that.
We went to a 1,000 year old church. Clearly this was really cool and really beautiful but the highlight of the day was when our poor, beloved Patrick put his hand on a railing covered in wet paint because he couldn't read to Polish sign. Sucker.
Til next time,