From the shores of what was once capitalist America, I’ve been trying to follow on webcast the highlights of of the United Nations climate con — I mean conference — in Copenhagen, featuring eco-messages from some of the world’s top celebrity tyrants. As Roger Simon so neatly put it in a post and PJTV webcast from the scene, “So many despots, so little time!”
Thursday alone, the UNFCCC “high-level” speaking lineup included officials of Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Belarus and the man himself, fixture of any major UN shindig, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.
But where are the UN’s promised archived webcasts of the Thursday high-level lineup, despots and all? The UNFCCC says on its web site that all live webcasts will be saved and posted at the close of each meeting. Scores of press conferences turn up promptly. Trolling the site, I came across a whole raft of Thursday events readily available as “on-demand” webcast. Among them were a Bangladesh climate report; Britain’s Gordon Brown presenting an eco award to the president of Mexico; and a press conference starring Nancy Pelosi, dewy with lip gloss and bundled up in a tangerine outfit, with Charlie Rangel and a string of other U.S. lawmakers in tow.
But if Ahmadinejad & comrades are available to be viewed right now “on-demand,” I have yet to find the links on the UNFCCC site. That could be my clumsiness with the internet, or perhaps a delay while they hunt down excess hot-air offsets in Copenhagen. But in my experience, when it’s hard or impossible to find something this germane on a UN web site, it’s usually because the UN doesn’t want you to. Is it possible that while waiting for President Obama to descend Friday in a cloud of American money, the UN organizers would like to minimize the embarrassments just showcased on their own stage? — and one way to do that is to delay posting a simple and obvious link that would let the likes of bloggers play, post and replay Ahmadinejad & Co.
What I did come across was the UN’s Valkyrie choir.
That’s not the official name. I have no idea who these wailing women are. But every time you boot up a webcast segment from the Copenhagen conference web site, you have to sit through a thematic prelude in which a mass of threads fill the screen and then coalesce into what looks like a ball of gray wool — though I assume it is supposed to be Planet Earth. This is accompanied by twangly new-age noises, sort of like the underground moving walkway at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. And then, as lettering appears to spell out “COP 15 COPENHAGEN,” these thin, female voices kick in, rising in a sort of ghostly soprano wail.
By about the 50th rendition, I began to wonder — Who are these people? Are they the shield-maidens of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? The sirens of the Kyoto Protocol? The COP 15 Family Singers? How much did the UN spend on this musical embellishment to its selectively posted climate webcast archives? I heard a similar chorus years ago, on a North Korean passenger plane, plying the airways between Beijing and Pyongyang. That was an ode to the glories of Kim Il Sung. Maybe the UN bought the rights?
Here’s a sample, if you want to check it out. (Just for fun, I’ve picked the clip of U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown giving an environmental award to President Felipe Calderon of Mexico — another classic moment in the rich history of high-level climate back-scratching).