A Picture is Worth a Thousand…Dollars…

The 14th Conference of the Parties has been an eye opening experience.  I have been able to see how many of the organizations I have read about actually conduct their business, and I must say that I am not completely satisfied with what I am witnessing.

Many of the side events that take place throughout the conference are held in buildings adjacent to the main hall.  Walking down the corridor leaving the main area, the passageway opens up to a large, cold conservatory where most organizations have exhibits and booths setup.  Here you will find a plethora of brochures, flyers, posters, t-shirts, CD’s, and mountains of other miscellaneous climate change paraphernalia.  It is interesting, then, to attend an event and watch how many of those items end up directly on the meeting room floor, having had a life span of no more than a few moments.  But now, may I get to my real argument.

As you enter this grand hall of miscellany, several people immediately confront you.  However, these are not the employees of the various organizations, they are images of the world’s poor.  Pictures of famine, pain, disease, and hopelessness are scattered about, as if you had entered an art gallery of poverty and destitution.  People are laughing and networking, joking and chatting, seemingly oblivious to the images surrounding them.  Somehow, it seems acceptable to display a six-foot poster of a malnourished child as long as it is in the name of fundraising and awareness.  I am not convinced.

Although it is tempting to post a picture as an example, I will choose not to perpetuate the exploitation of the impoverished.  I suspect that this is a bit of a depressing blog, but I feel an appropriate one.  As we, an international community, aspire to create just and equitable solutions to adapt to our changing world, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on the mechanisms that we will use to achieve these goals.