Today I visited an installation at the Place du Pantheon here in France. It was 12 pieces of glacial ice placed in the arrangement of a clock, melting into the streets of Paris. The installation served as a powerful visual reminder of how fleeting the ice is that feeds our streams, and brings life to 80% of the planet’s population. The absolute necessity of protecting this awesome force of nature makes you feel like a very small and insignificant force in and of yourself. Sometimes it is difficult to remind yourself that you still need to persevere, still need to educate, still need to inspire others to take up the charge. Especially when you see the plight of people and the planet being ignored by some of the Annex 1 (developed) countries.
With this weighing heavy on my mind and heart, I made my way through the Latin quarter of Paris to the COP negotiations. What I found there gave me renewed excitement for the work that is being done to preserve natural resources around the planet, and the amazing, passionate people who are heading this work up. I spoke to a group from Wales, which has committed to planting trees across an area the size of their country in places around the world where they are most needed. The “Size of Wales” tree-planting group was full of energetic and passionate individuals, challenging me to think of how I could plant trees in an area the size of New York State! I think that I will start with our prom, and work up from there.
Next I spoke to Envol-Vert, another group committed to promoting forest preservation through the education and training of peoples in South America. They promote solutions to economic issues that do not result in deforestation. The group had these amazing handmade bags from Columbia, where a group of women had recovered plastic bags from the landfills to weave reusable shopping bags for sale. Finally, I found a group called Art of Change. This amazing group is using art as a way to express discontent and as a call to action. The women behind this effort have taken the masks that are so ubiquitous in Beijing and turned them into works of art. Promoting clean air and a livable world through art, they have created over 700 masks as an installation to bring to COP21, and plan to continue the project through 2018.
These people and their creative calls for climate action are beautiful and thought-provoking reminders that there are no small actions. Every drop of rain creates an ocean. The talented and inspiring people I met today keep my spirits high and my commitment to action alive. This is why we are here at COP21.