One Billion at COP21

Just imagine the impact, the feeling, the awe-inspiring circumstance of one billion people all standing for the same purpose on the same day. Yes, that is the goal of The Billion People March, coming this December 19th. Don’t miss it.  The world has never ever experienced such a spectacle. One (1) out of every seven (7) people on the face of the planet will attend. History will be made. #BILLIONPEOPLEMARCH.

The story line for that upcoming yet-to-be-famous march is: “We change the course of history.”

It’s all about COP21 (Conference of the Parties 21), the greatly anticipated Paris gathering of the nations, conjoining to establish rules and regulations for climate change, the two most maligned nouns in human language, as various competing interests continually take pot shots at its true intentions. What a layman’s spectacle it has become!

Unfortunately, none of those immersed in climate change dialogue, meaning the COP members, have scored, ever. They’re all virgins. Rather, the entire affair is like a sporting event where nobody scores, so, there are no winners. It’s horribly boring without a score. The fans, advocates grow restless from sitting so long without reason to stand and clap.

All of the COPs have been cop-outs, as science is attenuated to a state of debilitation, too many committees, too many hands-on nation-state officialdom edifications, too much jabber into thin air.  The score remains stuck at zero.

But, the boredom is about to halt, assuming one billion people get involved on the same day for the same cause. That’s too many to overlook, too many to arrest, too many to play gottcha tear gas, too scary for security… simply too big to ignore.

“The Campaign against Climate Change, for example, is planning to intensify the resistance, including an effort, involving Parisians and climate protestors gathering from around the world, to bring the City of Lights to a standstill. Combined with similar actions around the world—perhaps led by student walkouts and hopefully with the support of union members, religious organizations and other members of civil society—they hope to demonstrate that business as usual cannot continue. Indeed, business as usual cannot continue when the environmental and climate systems upon which business, and indeed all earthy activity depends, catapults toward disaster.”1

Likely, the fabulously successful 350.org’s 400,000 People’s Climate March in NYC in September 2014 serves as inspiration for expectations of corralling one billion people the same day the same hour even though not all together on the splendid city streets of Paris, but for certain, elsewhere at the precise hour. This is not to say the protest will not bring the City of Lights to a standstill. Here’s betting it does.

After all, who’d miss a trip to sublime Paris where Victor Hugo (aged 30) stood amongst the barricades at the Paris Uprising of 1832, and where the world’s most famous cemeteries hold remarkably famous ghosts of Chopin, Molière, Balzac, Delacroix, Pissarro, and Jim Morrison at Père Lachaise Cemetery, and where a distraught mother of three, Queen Marie Antoinette, lost her head, October 16, 1793 at 1:59 P.M. Her “let them eat cake” quip was likely a plant by revolutionaries (forerunners to the neocons) to incite the public against her. It worked.

At any rate, or at the very least, COP21 members will likely learn to empathize, with first-hand experience, the heated exchange experienced by France’s soldiers huddled within the walls of the Bastille (built 1370-83) on that frightful and fateful day of July 14th, 1789, when the hungry masses armed with pitchforks, stones, sticks, and muskets encircled the medieval fortress.  Ninety-nine people died in the fighting, but shortly thereafter France was temporarily liberated from the shackles of absolute monarchy. Until the next one was re-established following the ousting of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814, the Bourbon Dynasty was restored to the French throne, but no longer “absolute,” called the French Restoration as Louis XVIII (1814-1824) proudly wore the dusty crown (French history is so convoluted).

According to Professor Taylor (Adbusters): “Between 30 November and 11 December 2015, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris, France. Commonly know as COP21, the goal is a legally binding agreement by all the nations of the world to reduce and adapt to anthropogenic (human-caused) climate disruption. Given decades of inaction and mounting scientific evidence that global warming is threatening human societies and promising massive species extinctions, the stakes could not be higher. Time for effective action is fast running out.”

He goes on to say: “Since the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, there is little reason for optimism. Every major meeting that was supposed to produce concrete results has failed.”

Blame for failure is squarely placed on the shoulders of politicians, oligarchs and corporate elites who are the key deciders and whose national and economic interests are antithetical to any kind of resolution. Indeed, the entire affair has a premature odor of King Louis XVI dismissing his popular minister of state Jacques Necker, who supported reforms as demanded by the Third Estate. Within days, the Bastille is stormed and the French Revolution starts.

Professor Taylor (Adbusters) queries whether the time has come for direct action resistance, harkening back to the days of Earth First! the inaugural avowedly radical environmental group some decades ago. Back in the day, activists got bloodied up quite a bit.

Whilst not advocating arson or outright-armed insurrection, the professor suggests a powerful show of force, meaning huge big-time numbers, can and should have a numbing affect, a knock on the head wake-up call, on COP21 participants. Look at what Martin Luther King accomplished with scary big numbers in the streets, a civil rights act. In the final analysis, numbers do count.

Indeed, the world will be watching. How could it not with tens of thousands rallying in individual cities around the world, hundreds of thousands in some major cities, and likely well over 500,000 on the streets of Paris, maybe 750,000 or more, and yes, bringing the City of Lights to a standstill.

Just imagine the TV images for the whole world to watch, leaning back in a worn easy chair, eating pizza, drinking beer, sipping soda, fattening up whilst amusingly watching the world’s youth, scraped knees, bloodied noses, broken bones, and bruised bodies, along with a few brave more-mature adults, and a couple of actors, turn COP21’s attending members upside down on their heads because, similar to King Louis XVI, they don’t get it!

  1. Bron Taylor, professor of religion and nature, environmental ethics and environmental studies, University of Florida, “Resistance, Do the Ends Justify the Means?” Adbusters, Manifesto for World Revolution PT.2, Vol. 23, No.3, May/June 2015. []
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com. Read other articles by Robert.