Tuesday, December 8, 2009

5 Things to Love About Copenhagen

1. "Copenhagen" can be adorably changed to "Hopenhagen." Hopenhagen is the name of a movement to connect real people to Copenhagen, site of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Hopenhagen has the fabulous motto: "when people lead, leaders follow." Their idea? That if real people speak up for the planet, leaders will have to listen. Unfortunately, real people don't seem to be quite ready... yesterday I clicked on a link to an AOL Survey asking people "Have you made any lifestyle changes to address global warming?" The results: 29% Yes, 22% No, 49% "I don't believe in global warming." Umm ... I know these things are self-selecting, but over 13,000 people responded. And almost half don't believe in global warming. Even scarier are the 22% who apparently believe, but have made NO changes in their own behavior. Hopenhagen indeed. I "hope" you join the grassroots movement to get out the word that climate change is happening. And even if you don't believe in that, the EPA has determined that greenhouse gases are also dangerous for our health. If you don't care about polar bears, you've gotta care about your own lungs.

2. Copenhagen is the home city of my great hero, Soren Kierkegaard. Isn't he handsome?

Good ol' Soren was one of the fathers of existentialism, a philosophical movement that emphasizes our complete freedom to choose our actions. Kierkegaard focused on our freedom to make leaps of faith -- or as wikipedia puts it: "No ... evidence could ever be enough to pragmatically justify the kind of total commitment involved in true religious faith or romantic love. Faith involves making that commitment anyway. Kierkegaard thought that to have faith is at the same time to have doubt." What can we learn from that? Maybe Climategate is swirling all around you, maybe your family members dispute the good that you're doing by recycling, maybe every time you go to a bar you get chatted up by some guy who works for an oil company (I do live in Houston). In Copenhagen, though, we've got to hope for a global leap of faith. We may not get it, but we can live like we will, through our daily actions.

3. Copenhagen is a model of Cleantech for the rest of the world. Since the 70's, Denmark has been attempting to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, increasing the usage of wind, solar power, and biofuels. They also have used high taxes on energy use to help reduce the amount of energy people are using. This has been good business for them, as they've been able to turn their innovative energy solutions into exporting power.

4. Copenhagen is the name of a brand of smokeless tobacco. Don't use it. It is can contribute to gross mouth cancers. But it did inspire kids to start using the funny phrase, "I'm going to Denmark" when they wanted to sneak out and chew. Who did they think they were fooling?

5. Copenhagen is the place where the world's leaders might be bold and make a change, at the UN Climate Change Conference. There are a lot of issues to wrinkle out, rich nations and poor nations vying for money and attention. There are world citizens who don't want to change their lives. But the bottom line is, the world is getting warmer. Though I've made my leap of faith and made changes in the way I live, it won't make a huge difference unless governments get involved and big systemic changes get underway. Hopenhagen, indeed.

Top photo courtesy of Kaare, at wikimediacommons.

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