Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Copenhagen Summit: Arrival
I arrived in Copenhagen Sunday about 6:00 p.m. after nearly 18 hours travel. The experts keep saying that living more sensitively to the earth will mean accepting some sacrifices...travel will be slower, that's for sure. What a relief to get to bed.
We are located during the day in St. Alban's Anglican Church, part of the Anglican Church in Europe, and at night our group is billeted with the Swedish Lutheran Church. The pastor is a member of our Third Order. Sister Joyce has a luxurious bedroom of her own, the three brothers are piled into a "flat" that has cots and air mattresses.
The Anglican Chaplain Jonathan Lloyd had the bright idea of getting the Franciscans to come to Copenhagen to be a "presence." The first day was a bit fraying, but we survived. There was a general sense that we did not know what we were doing, and we had the expectation that we should be doing something, given the incredible importance of the conference! The lack of television, internet or eeven English language radio meant we had no sense of what was happening, at the Conference. But we learned later our sense of frustration was nothing compared to the delegates who had come to Copenhagen. Nearly double the number of expected delegates arrived and spent hours standing on line in the cold December weather. We heard that most people experience that same liminal feeling of "What's Going On?!"
As I write this, on Wednesday, the internet is being connect at St. Alban's so we expect to be able to follow developments of the conference.
Not only are we providing a presence at the Conference by praying at St. Alban's, we are beginning to get the sense of where the NGO's are meeting and how to get to visit them. Journalists have begun to show up to meet us (asking the all important question, "What will you be doing here in Copenhagen?") As we tell our story we begin to fumble toward greater clarity for ourselves. Father Jonathan has organized a nightly series of presentations for his congregation, providing an opportunity for "regular" people to meet and interact with some of the people who have traveled to Copenhagen.
Last night was the first such discussion, by Martyn Goss from the Diocese of Exeter in England, on "Water." Listening to him, I realized I have had my own experience of climate change and water, which makes for fruitful material for prayer and meditation. Working backwards, I recently had an ear infection, which the doctor says was from swimming in polluted water (Which I did inadvertently in the Solomons). The waters were polluted because of the logging activities upstream and recent flooding. Once deep rivers have become shallow murky ones. The brothers had a bore hole well drilled, but the price of diesel made it difficult for them to keep the tanks near the friary filled. Rising fuel prices, forest clear cutting, heavy rains bring disease and diminished quality of life. Not for me, particularly, because I was a short term visitor, and had quick access to good medical care in Australia. However, the notion we are all separated by just six degrees makes the issues of the developing world my issues. For many of the rural people in the Solomons and other developing countries, medical care is not universal, many people suffer terribly from easily cured problems. Climate change, human greed and lack of adequate resources make the issues being iscussed here at Copenhagen incredibly urgent.
Water is one way into the climate debate. There are many interrelated issues. Every one of which has a host of advocates here at Copenhagen. Add to this the celebrity factor of many of the participants. For us, it is the arrival of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Sadly he he and others are the focus of many people who wish to disrupt the conference. So we are not just dealing with climate change, but with all the issues of such a big conference. KEEP PRAYING!
Martyn Goss not only talked about water, he left us with a hymn he composed. It is not copyrighted, and he hopes many people will sing it (with proper attribution, of course!):
A Hymn for COP15 (Sung to the tune in the English Hymnal "Thy Hand O God has Guided")
The whole earthly Creation
reflects God's heavenly Grace,
since life has now developed
upon this globe in space;
and now our human industry
is threatening all its worth,
with unchecked global warming;
one hope, one chance, one earth.
Our scientists and leaders
now recognize this trend.
Unless we change our habits,
our lives themselves might end.
So now they make decisions
to implement our voice,
to shrink our carbon footprint;
one God, one world, once choice.
The task at Copenhagen's
to cut back greenhouse gas,
that humankind in future
will not face death and loss;
the targets of our rulers
must demonstrate resolve,
to save our children's children;
one globe, one God, one Love.
We call out to our God now
that we united be,
and our destructive lifestyles
be lost to history.
We move ahead together
agreeing a new accord
to limit our emissions;
in faith, in Christ, our Lord.
Objects for meditation at the Chaplaincy: dead coral, dried corn and a stone left behind from a melted glacier