Today was another busy day. It started with all of us rushing to the venue first thing to try to get seats in the #UniteBehindTheScience event hosted by youth climate activists Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer. There was a lot of energy in the room even before the panel showed up, and I thought that the panel was excellent. The two activists were joined by five different scientists from various organizations (IPCC, The Stockholm Environment Institute, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Fletcher School) and I found it very impressive that both young women had used their ability to bring people into the room (there were A LOT of cameras) and then let the experts do the talking. Greta started by saying she wanted to use her privilege to have an important conversation (something I think she did yesterday as well with a group of Indigenous activists) and then turned it over the the panel. Something that I really liked about this panel is that they focused both on the scope of the climate issue, but also stressed the scientific solutions and where they think the path forward is. The panel pretty much unilaterally said that we have the technology to solve the climate emergency and that the problem was policy implementation, which is something that I have heard over and over at this COP. They stressed the importance of engaging the people and making sure that the transition does not widen already existing inequities. And they also talked a lot about the importance of education, and this is the one place where Greta did contribute when she stressed that there were plenty of adults who needed educating as well, not just school children. It made me think of an outreach event I did recently with a 5th grade class focused on the scientific basis of global warming. The kids at that event were very eager to learn and open to the information we were giving them, which we did with a series of slides and demonstrations/activities. I wonder what kind of outreach we can develop for a group of adults? Maybe the same exercises would be appropriate, actually. In all, I found this event very uplifting and inspiring.
I also attended Al Gore’s talk, where he gave an overview the climate problem and outlined various natural disasters that have been amplified by a warming planet. I thought that the examples were effective, although it was a lot and verged a bit toward disaster porn. Gore himself was an interesting presenter and there were several times where he basically started yelling. The presentation reminded me a lot of his documentaries (not surprising, since his documentaries are all him) and since I had just come from the panel it struck me that in all the things I’ve seen from Gore he is the focal point. I am not sure I’ve seen him use his platform to enable other voices. Maybe I’m being unfair here, I certainly have not watched everything he’s put out or been in the room for all of his talks. But I did find myself wondering if he’s ever sat down and not talked when given a stage. Personally I did not find his one person show as engaging or as inspiring.