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The Copenhagen Fools

January 7, 2010
Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy Maui LLC

At the Metro station stood two Taiwanese women in chicken and a cow costumes. They distributed flyers with their vegetarian agenda. What fools, I thought. There should be solar energy advocates in their place.

Copenhagen saw a huge, mostly peaceful demonstration. “Blah blah blah... Act Now!” and “There is no Planet B” were the helpless pleas of some 100,000 young people, whose future was ground up to sawdust in the political machinery. In many other cities around the globe, protesters marched as well.

All this made some impression on the delegates who were working on “the deal,” but not enough of an impact to overcome their bickering. The poor countries used the stage to demand money from the rich. The industrialized countries made their reductions dependent on other countries’ actions. The soon-to-be-flooded islands ignored that they were ultimately dependent (like Maui) on climate-destroying flights. And all were waiting for “The One.”

Article Photos

These two Taiwanese women in a chicken and a cow costume were part of a larger contingency who peacefully distributed pro-vegetarian flyers at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last month.

He arrived on the Dec. 18 and he was angry. With anger and irritation in his voice during his first speech, he said he was there to act, not talk. He teamed with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to draft a late-night compromise. But in the end, even Obama could not get more than a faint declaration—one even weaker than the positions before the conference. Say goodbye to your beach mansions, Wailea.

Back to the chicken and the cow.

According to a September 2009 Worldwatch Institute report, more than 51 percent of worldwide emissions are due to raising livestock, not 18 percent previously assumed by the Food and Agriculture Organization. Expect these emissions to double by 2050.

According to the numbers, a 1 percent reduction in worldwide meat intake has the same benefit as a $3 trillion investment in solar energy.

This is a revolutionary insight. It is time to rethink how we can save the world.

The “fools” were right.



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