Category Archives: Snigdha

Pause for Applause…Al Gore and his Farmer Joke

Al Gore is actually a funny man. Alice and I are listening to him right now. A man just told me, “I’ve heard [the joke] before but when Al Gore’s telling it, you can hear it 50 times over.”

His joke to come. Meanwhile, enjoy a few pictures.

Alice and I before the event

Al Gore speaking on climate change

Updated 5:50 pm (Danish time): Here’s the joke:

A farmer was in court because he was suing a driver who had hit his car.

The defendant’s lawyer asked the farmer, “Did you or did you not say that you were ‘fine’ after the accident.”

The farmer said, “It’s not that simple.I was taking my cow in the back of my truck.”

The lawyer said, “Please don’t waste the court’s time with a long, complicated story. Just answer yes or no.”

The farm said, “Well, this fellow ran me over… I was on one side and my cow was on the other. The cop came and said boy, he’s suffering, and shot my cow between the eyes…Then the cop came up to me and asked me how I was doing…I said I was fine.”

– Snigdha

Schwarzenegger: On Fairytales and California

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger started off his talk with by thanking many, many people. It could have been the Academy Awards.

The Crowd

Premier Gordon Campbell (British Columbia)

The Terminator Himself

But he did have a few points that displayed his realism and vim for his now home state of California.

“I love giving this speech because I’m not the only one with an accent!”

He joked that he had been to Denmark several times, previously for bodybuilding or weightlifting seminars. “Never did I think I would come here as a governor of a great state.”

He remarked about the cleanliness of the harbor (you can swim in it) and his favorite Hans Christian Andersen tale.

“My favorite tale was the ugly duckling. Because I love the story of transformation. Planetary transformation is what brought us together here. But is this a fairy tale?

“Why do we put so much hope and eggs into the international agreement basket?” he said. “Many of the agreements happen in the subnational level.”

He told us how his mother-in-law (aka JFK’s sister) would never have relied on the federal government to start the Special Olympics.

“History teaches us that movements begin with the people, not the government. Then when the movement becomes powerful enough, the people respond.”

This is very similar to what Barack Obama has often said: show me a movement and I’ll make it happen.

“By putting all our eggs in one basket, we fail to look at the eggs in the other baskets,” he said. He mentioned Rajendra Pauchari’s movement to eliminate the use of kerosene by 400 million people in India.

“If we don’t reach an agreement, does it mean that this doesn’t count? … We are proceeding in a major way in green tech no matter what happens in Washington or Copenhagen.

“I would be happy to host such a summit in California…people like coming to California.”

Tutu + Robinson @ Copenhagen

Yes, the corner of College and Chapel may be called Bishop Tutu Corner. But I’ve just met the guy. He loves to laugh and has a great smile. When I told him that there was a street near my college named after him, former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and Irish President Mary Robinson joked that it must be an alley.

Both are here for Oxfam international climate hearing at Copenhagen (“Oxfam organized hundreds of climate hearings. The COP hearing will be the culmination of this effort. The hearing will include climate witnesses from around the world and moral voices.”)

Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu Meeting

Taking pictures of a dignitary

Me, Robinson, Tutu, and two friendly people

Some notable quotes:

“We forget there is a great deal of good and you represent that. Fantastic human beings who care, who want to see our earth home, the only one we have, to be hospitable to all of its inhabitants. I want to clap you, because you are just fantastic human beings.”

“All have one super-goal. Persuading others to listen.”

“It’s the difference between survival and doom. We’re in this together. There are all kinds of competing voices. The 1.5 million people that have attended Climate Hearing in 36 countries, that’s not the whole story, they represent hundreds of millions more people who may not have attended a hearing but are suffering from climate change. The future is becoming a source of fear and uncertainty. People suffer with nothing to eat during the dry months and then lose everything when the rains fall with such ferocity that everything is washed away.

All of these changes, we know, are not just incidental. These stories testify to a disaster already in progress. But you know that we have it in our power.

Leaders from more than 60 countries are in Copenhagen today. We are here to tell the leaders of the world we have one Earth home, if it is destroyed there is nothing else. And we are in it together. We are going to swim or drown together. We are interconnected; we are bound together. If the one slips down, she or he brings down the whole lot. We are here to call for action.”

An International Court on Environmental Law?

Today, I sat in on Climate Justice and sustainable development: Intensifying the dialogue between EU, India and China.

The IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute made a case for a climate community. Key moves would include the EU scaling up finance, reducing administrative costs, and reducing competitive distortion. India’s problems include too many small entities and lack of data.

Yet, India has introduced some sound domestic policy initiatives that, if successfully implemented, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EU can significantly help India implement these initiatives, though the existing financial mechanisms are inadequate.

Check out more here: www.climatecommmunity.org/indiaeu_dialogue

One panelist said, “We’ve got to be able to recognize india’s prime concern is still that Indian people are in poverty. Climate change is going to make this an increasingly more complex project.”

The panel also made a case for having an International Court for the Environment (ICE) because environmental problems are always international in their dimension.

They quoted Sir Robert Jennings, Former ICJ President:

“It is a trite observation that environmental problems, although they closely affect municipal laws, are essentially international; and that the main structure of control can therebefore be no other than that of international law.”

Other courts, such as the International Court of Justice (which only has access to the state), the International Criminal Court (exclusively criminal jurisdiction and not focused on the environment), are not capable of processing international environmental law cases, the panel defended.

After talking to people like Becky at the Yale reception, who organizes lawyers to create a global network of legal counsel for any COP15 delegation, and after meeting George Collins and Paul Beaton, both Yale Law and School of Forestry Students, it seems that ICE may not be too far off the horizon…

Schwarzenegger, Tutu, and Gore All in the Same Day?

It just might happen. We’ll keep you posted.

Some pictures of the day…