Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Climate Change Groupies

New York was abuzz with diplomatic traffic jams, unpaid parking tickets and the 1-day promise the world will come to its senses on climate change.

UNCarole and I witnessed it all from a perch at the Langham Place Hotel, pivotally situated on Fifth Avenue, which was flooded by cars with red lights on top and serious looking men with earphones, badges and bulging suit coats.

Of course, we knew about the United Nations Climate Change Summit, where President Obama would deliver a speech about the urgent need to do something before we submerge California in melted Arctic ice.

We had quite accounted for the bustle and babble in the lobby of the hotel where we are staying. After an early morning departure from Portland, we landed in Newark, cabbed to the Big Apple and checked in. No problem until we tried to go down to the lobby for an early supper and had to dodge intent security men who commandeered the elevator.

It was slightly annoying being shunted aside by briefcase-carrying, smartphone-talking people who were carrying around the burden of arresting greenhouse gas emissions. It was more annoying trying to find a quiet corner of the downstairs bistro, which was aflutter with clusters of earnest men and women speaking a menagerie of languages. We basically could only discern when French was spoken.

Of course, we didn’t expect anyone to ask our opinion on what should be done about climate change. No one disappointed us by asking.

There was a moment of quiet excitement when we sat down. A very tall guy was slouched in a chair next to the window sipping Diet Coke. He looked like Jeff Goldblum. We figured, this is New York, it could be him. More important, Goldblum starred in Jurassic Park, a cinematic reminder of the fate that lies ahead if we don’t mend our carbon-guzzling ways. It turned out to be just some guy who looked like Jeff Goldblum. We didn’t have the heart to mention it to him.

Most of the people congregating in New York had weighty questions and freighted answers. There was a lot of talk about leadership and legacy. We came to New York for an equally lofty purpose – to see Derek Jeter’s final home game in Yankee Stadium.

climate-changeOkay, maybe the fate of the works doesn’t rest on Jeter’s fond farewell, but it still is a big deal. Maybe we need seriously looking guys with cars with sirens and menacing lumps in their suit coats to squire us out to the Bronx and back.

The way we look at it, we were in New York when big climate change decisions could have been made. If they weren’t, it wasn’t because we weren’t here, watching all the big, black diplomatic limos whiz by, the papers being shuffled and the hollow promises being uttered with absolute insincerity.


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