Today things started out feeling dismal - like they were unraveling.
Over the weekend we got word that the many thousands of people gathered here to participate in the conference will not have access to the conference center because they are massively overbooked. We were also informed that after today we would most likely be unable to get into the conference center as well. In the meantime some countries walked out of the talks and the Polar Bear ice statue – which for me has been symbolic -- continues to melt away. . .
It seemed that my semi-cynical state of mind was starting to creep in as well as much as I was trying to resist. That said - I knew I had to forge on! I knew that my boss, my mentor Terry Tamminen, would have it no other way. Unable to attend the conference himself Sasha and I have been charged with representing him and our organization. Not an easy task. He himself is a celebrity in the climate change world and as Sasha and I have concluded we are the elves to his Santa Claus. Santa Claus is the man. A man of vision, fortitude and inspiration, and my negative inner conflict would not be tolerated by him . . sotime to buck up. Alas as part of our duties here we were to attend an official event at the American Ambassadors house in honor of climate change leaders including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Chu, our Energy Secretary.
It’s rare that I wear heals and a fancy dress but I felt it was the least I could do in spite of my spirit. So off we go – my colleague Sasha and I traveled to a location across town and there we found a beautiful house and a long receiving line to greet the Ambassador. Appetizers and drinks were passed and the usual small talk ensued. Then an explosion of sorts occurred. The very calm and controlled affair busted out as our Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the room.
Quite frankly I’ve never been a fan of big action movies or big action heroes, but I will say when this man enters a room something shifts. There he stood with Energy Secretary Steven Chu. They both took the stage. Mr. Chu spoke eloquently about his role in solving the climate change crisis. Though not as large as our governor he is quite formidable and brilliantly spoke with humor, strength and wisdom. Then Governor Schwarzenegger took center stage. It’s true it’s easy to dismiss the larger than life action hero as just that - but wow- how much more the man he is. He managed in a span of 10 minutes to inspire, provoke and evoke feelings of hope. His message: it’s up to each one of us – we as individuals have the power to solve this problem; the grassroots, the local and state governments. We are all standing by waiting to hear what China will do, what India will do, but what about what each one of us will do? It was I will say a very profound and powerful articulation of how ultimately this crisis will be resolved. It will be resolved by each of us collectively doing our part.
At the conclusion of his speech I glanced around the room. I saw hope and relief. That’s was an image I won’t soon forget. It managed to chase away my feelings of despair.