United Nations Conference on Climate Change: Paris Meets New York Ecologically

By Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper

Bill McKibben was right when he said that the UNCOP21 conference on climate change in Paris did not save the earth but instead saved the chance to save the earth. UNCOP21 miraculously argued for a less than 2% rise in sea levels and we all applauded. People in Paris and New York unbuttoned their hope-proof vests and allowed themselves that rare gift of hope. Maybe we won’t be underwater in our lifetimes.

Now, two months after the (slight) unbuttoning, I wonder what it looks like in the Village. What steps might we take to save the chance to save the earth? For one, we can observe how the fracking industry continues to build pipe under, around, and through the Village. Check out the High Line’s above -ground beauty and its belowground ugliness. Read what Karen Scharff of Citizen Action says about what the pipes will bring us:

For another, we could reconsider our pal and former mayor, Mike Bloomberg. Take a look at his record. He was NOT late on building an ecologically sounder (not sound, but more sound) New York.

If fracking is too political for you, consider the economy of “We wish you a mulchy Christmas.” One of the most interesting days anywhere are the days after Christmas when the dried up Christmas trees show up. They are everywhere. You could have fun calculating how much money the trees amount to on the corner. Did that 12-foot tree cost $65? How much does it cost the city to remove all of our Christmas frolic? Wasn’t it great that we were wished a Mulchy Christmas by a pile of trees in Washington Square Park? Even the most secular among us put up a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. What is the meaning of all that dryness and drivenness among us? Yes, all the trees were driven here, usually from Maine. Like Poland Spring water, also transported from Maine, these trees and water bottles are hardly saving the earth. By the way, you don’t need a license to sell Christmas trees on a corner in Manhattan. Unregulated they are. They also light their stalls all night to protect themselves from theft.

That being said, I love Christmas trees. But we must still look more deeply at the things we love.

That Poland Spring water bottle from Maine exudes expensive “convenience.” Although we have great tap water in New York City we select ease and packaging. Poland Spring water comes from upstate, where I was born, near where my grandfather was the rural mail carrier. It travels through good pipes. Buying water from Maine shows nothing but how stupid we are.

Our coffee shops are as good as any in Paris. The cost of a good cup is about the same. Maybe our conversations and our actions could be even better than those in Paris. I hereby challenge Paris and New York to be the best bioneers. May the best team win.

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