lol ur empty gestures.

December 17th, 2009 4:53 pm by mad mags

When I opened this email from, I couldn’t help but snicker – after which, I inevitably felt a little guilty. (Hey, I’ve got lady bits; I’ve been indoctrinated into a sea of guilt, whether deserved or not.) Then, still feeling a pang of guilt, I snickered some more. You see, their hearts are (kinda sorta) in the right place; their tummies, not so much.

Apologies again for bombarding you with email, but we’re in the final stretch here at Copenhagen and I hope you can join us in doing two unusual things.

“Unsual”? Well, I’m up for most anything. Do tell!

They’re unusual things for us to ask, but this is an unusual moment. In a certain sense the Copenhagen conference is going better than we dared hope. The small nations of the world have really been quite remarkable this week–their calls for strong climate action have completely changed the tone of these negotiations. They have stood up to immense pressure from the big powers, and they continue to rally behind the banner that all of you have raised for them. These nations are still trying to insert “350 language” into the treaty text, at least as a symbolic aspiration for the future. This would be a remarkable acknowledgment of physical reality, and give us a good base to keep moving on.

But not all is well in Copenhagen. We’re not going to get the agreement that we need (current negotiations put us on track to hit a devastating 770ppm by century’s end) and this movement will need to fight on in the years ahead.

But right now, while the Copenhagen climate talks are still unfolding, we need one final push.

Yes, yes!? Quit with the teasing and spill the organic, fair trade, sustainably harvested beans already!

So, the two unusual requests:

1) Make a phone call.

We don’t usually ask you to make calls, but today we’re going to. At this link you’ll find a list of every head of state and his or her phone number. You’ll note that the countries are listed in either green or red type. If your nation is in green, it means they’re fighting the good fight for 350. We need you to leave them a message that either expresses your pride and gratitude for their commitment to keeping 350 in the treaty text, or your earnest wish that they’ll listen to the science and consider standing with the bloc of more than 100 nations standing for bold scientific targets.

Please click here to make the call–you’ll find everything you need: the appropriate phone numbers, a short script of what to say, and a sense of how your country’s leadership is standing on this issue.

Eh. I receive requests to call my reps every day – nay, every hour. As far as calls to action go, this one’s rather boring and mundane. Next!

2) Think about fasting for 24 hours on Thursday–part of a genuinely worldwide effort.

A hunger strike is not one of our usual tools either, but somehow it feels appropriate at what’s a very solemn moment. Some of our allies around the world have been going without food for more than a month, and they’ve asked others to join this fast for 24 hours–starting any time on Thursday. We know it’s late notice, especially for those of you in the eastern parts of the world–but everything just came together to pull it off. Many here in Copenhagen are doing so–including thousands of youth, members of the team, Vandana Shiva, and many more–and we wanted you to have the opportunity too.

As global warming kicks in, more and more people will starve–earlier this week, at the conference’s main religious service, there were shriveled ears of corn from drought-stricken parts of Africa on the altar. Most of us can’t know the true terror of hunger, because we know we’ll eat again soon, but we can join in what organizers are calling a Hunger Strike for Survival.

If you’re interested in joining in, please sign-up here. It’s true that we can’t promise fasting will have any practical effect, but it feels right to us right now.

Oh, my. How do I say this without sounding like a total asshole? While I agree that fasts can sometimes prove a potent form of protest – and I respect the fortitude and passion of the activists who have been fasting for days or even weeks on behalf of environmental justice – this is, will all due respect, bullshit. By fasting for 24 hours, I won’t do anything other than make myself miserable for a day. Seriously: I work at home, rarely eat out, and have enough staples to last through the winter stashed away in my pantry. No one will will miss my blip in consumption. (No one but me, that is.)

And, yes, I realize that the fast is largely symbolic, as most of the participants are scattered around the globe, thus hunger striking in their respective, isolated corners of the world. Even as a symbolic gesture, however, a 24-hour fast is rather empty – empty, that is, unless one drastically changes her patterns of consumption the other 8,736 hours of the year. You see, my regular dietary routine has a far greater potential to slow (and even halt) climate change, as well as deforestation, air and water pollution, habitat loss, world hunger, etc., etc., etc., than any amount of carbon caps possibly could.

If 350’s target audience was to forgo the 24-hour fast and instead pledge to eat vegan – not symbolically, for a day; not meatless on Mondays; not even for the entire month of December – but today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter for the rest of their earth-bound lives, well, now there’s a social movement with teeth! Not to mention, heart enough for everyone.

Consider, for example, that vegan diets, on average, emit 0.14 tons of CO2 per year, compared to 2.19 tons from omnivorous diets – and that these numbers will only become more disparate as western countries export their unsustainable ways to developing nations. Animal exploitation is not sustainable. Or, um, moral.

But, bah, I’ve said all of this before. Rather than repeat myself, I will instead direct y’all to the cantankerous pieces I wrote about animal agriculture and climate change for October’s Blog Action Day for Climate Change and the International Day of Climate Action (also from Also check out Will Eating Less Meat Help Stop Climate Change? YES., by Michael Weber of FARM.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go stuff myself full of homemade butterscotch ice cream. Vegan, of course.


Photo via Flickr user sea turtle.



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