Nov. 18 2015 12:02 AM

How the Paris attacks intersect with the upcoming climate summit

Image by Jean Jullien / Instagram

The death toll in Paris kept rising on Friday. There was a momentary sadness and a grim reality in the air that day inside The Lafayette Hotel. That’s where I went to pick up a media badge for the weekend’s San Diego Music Thing. There on the TV in the bar/restaurant adjacent to the lobby was CNN’s coverage—with sound muted but close captioned. The number of lives lost to terrorists’ bullets and bombs was spiking. We were just starting to get harrowing details about scenes that by now have been replayed over and again. The Palm Desert-based band Eagles of Death Metal was playing a show at Paris’ Bataclan concert hall, which accommodates 1,500 people. Three attackers with assault rifles began firing on the crowd. The gunmen regrouped audience members in front of the stage and shot them point blank. Two terrorists killed themselves by detonating suicide belts.

And here I am picking up tickets to a bunch of music shows.

I spoke to a few people in the lobby, standing around the merch table and the vinyl records for sale. Nobody knew what to say. Yes, of course the shows would go on. But what would Friday the 13th mean for future assemblages—for music, sports, anything—all over the world?

“I don’t think it will significantly change things, but if incidents like that happen again or more than once, it would definitely have an impact,” said veteran San Diego show promoter and Casbah owner Tim Mays. “Security for bigger shows is already very focused on checking individuals for various contraband items, but it’s hard to say what could be done to stop someone who came in brandishing an AK-47.

“The San Diego Music Thing shows were all pretty well attended over the weekend,” he added. “I know a lot of people wanted to go out and support live music, you know, don’t let the terrorists win by making you afraid to live your life.”

But after OD-ing on the bitter pills of information coming from Paris, I closed my eyes and pictured…the cover we’d planned weeks ago for this issue. “Letters to the Future: The Paris Climate Project.” Uh-oh. Could this be a problem? Too soon?

I talked myself down. For one thing, the climate summit scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris will go on as planned. About 120 world leaders, including President Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin still are expected to attend.

French authorities say they’ll have more than 30,000 members of their police force patrolling border points and all parts of the country between now and the end of the conference, which will attract up to 40,000 delegates and thousands of journalists. And don’t forget the environmental groups and activists, who have been planning a march to kick off the summit.

Letters to the Future is a simple but smart idea that targets the world’s decision makers. Notable concerned folks from around the country— including a former astronaut and a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner—wrote missives to future generations. The letters predict the success or failure of our contemporary struggle to set world standards to protect the Earth from extreme climate change.

About 40 Association of Alternative Newsmedia members banded together in this effort. We decided to put the Letters to the Future in the spot we normally run Letters to the Editor.

This project is a grain of sand on the beach of concern for the environment. But one positive spin turned up while I was scanning myriad media reports on all things Paris. A former climate advisor from President Bill Clinton’s Administration told Politico the attacks might improve the odds of success at the talks.

“The resolve of world leaders is going to be redoubled to gain an agreement and show that they can deliver for populations around the world,” said Paul Bledsoe. “The likelihood for a successful agreement has only increased because of these attacks.”

If manure has the power to make a rose garden grow, anything is possible—even senseless violence begetting awareness and action on climate change.


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