I felt like I was in a time-warp yesterday, running alongside the demonstrators, shooting video, as the protesters shouted “The whole world is watching!” (yes, that oldie!), challenging the police who were blocking their way. But this time it wasn’t D.C. but the Copenhagen cops, and the building to be stormed was not the Pentagon, but the Bella Center — a gussied-up seventies edifice where the UN Climate Conference (Cop 15) is taking place.
“The whole word is watching!” soon gave in to “Ho, ho, ho, ho — Bella Center here we go!” that reminded me rather much of “Ho, Ho, Ho Chih Minh — Viet Cong is gonna win!” There was also a bit of “The People United will never be defeated” (El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido) from the Hispanic contingent.
The demonstrators never made the Center. The cops blocked them. Shortly after I saw a couple of protesters climbing power poles. Someone ran past me, his face contorted from pepper spray. I heard screaming and now everyone was running backwards. Me too.
But nothing much happened. The Danish cops were pretty tame and the protesters, retreads that they were, weren’t especially good at playing the old game of bait-the-police. I kept thinking of Marx’s famous rewrite of Hegel — the one about history being replayed the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce. I don’t know about tragedy, but there certainly was plenty of farce to go around — demonstrators dressed as clowns, middle-aged Brazilian ladies in tiger suits and Amazonian false breasts promising to save the rain forests, an old guy from Estonia pushing a model elephant he had constructed entirely of recycled trash. These were Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night gone globalist, and boy, did they appear useless. What will they all do when it’s over and they have to go home?
Inside the Bella Center things were scarcely better. Cop 15 is a bifurcated event. Outside are the noisy demonstrators who think — or say they think — capitalism is the root of all evil. Inside are mixed bags of socialist and capitalist poo-bahs negotiating the extension of an agreement — the Kyoto Protocol — that no one ever adhered to in the first place.
It’s the UN at its purest.
Grown-up (jacket and tie) versions of the outside demonstrators and self-serving bureaucrats manipulating large amounts of cash, under the rubric of “climate debt” — the money supposedly owed by energy-belching developed nations to the less fortunate. (Many of the “less fortunate” seem to be staying in my hotel replete with large entourages, security, luxury limousines, etc.)
The number on the table they are jousting over at the moment is a 100 billion dollar international fund through 2020, no small sum for an unproven theory (AGW). The U.S. now appears to be behind it, although there is an element of charade in all this. (The Chinese won’t accede to the transparency demands and everyone else knows it.) Meanwhile, several of the delegates I’ve talked to worry that all this talk of global warming Armageddon is distracting the world from genuine existing and verifiable problems — such as potable water, malaria, etc.
Be that as it may — and even though there is still a lot of bickering over the hand-outs … er, budget — this city is about to be descended upon by some 115 world leaders. One of them, Hugo Chavez, is already here, evidently to great acclaim. I missed his speech yesterday (somehow I’m not on the invite list), but I will take one for the team today and go hear Chavez speak off campus at a place called Valby Hallen. He won’t be alone. Accompanying him on the program are Raul Castro, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Eva Morales of Bolivia, the Foreign Minister of Ecuador and the recently deposed president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya. (Wasn’t he supposed to be in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa?) Anyway, it’s a veritable rogue’s gallery of the Latin American left. Tickets are on a first come, first served basis with no assigned seating (Heaven help me!). I told you I was taking one for the team.
UPDATE: Oops, now I see I have a conflict — a demonstration has been called in front of the Danish Parliament at 6PM to protest Ahmadinejad’s arrival at the conference. How can I be two places at once? So many despots — so little time!
UPDATE II: Hot news here is that Russians too have been reading the “Climategate” leaks. From Kommersant:
Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory.
Did anyone tell Al Gore?
(Video at PJTV)