Last night, I was really feeling the effects of the lack of sleep. It has been a usual routine of waking up early and going to bed late. I decided to get my blog done a bit earlier yesterday so I could go to bed right after one of the biggest events of the week, the U.S. People’s Delegation Speak Out.
The Speak Out was located in the just-opened U.S. Climate Action Pavilion, set up by Michael Bloomberg with the purpose of representing the popular views of U.S. citizens, in contradiction with the Trump administration. At the delegation speak out, we heard activists from across the world share their individual stories in creative ways. One girl from the Marshall Islands told her story through a powerful spoken word. Another family described Manchester, a suburb of Houston, that is surrounded on three sides by one of the largest energy refineries in the world. They breathe in harmful toxins 24/7. Hurricane Harvey made things worse when it caused a benzene leak that spilled into this neighborhood, leaving unsafe readings of benzene for eight days. Another woman described her experience at Standing Rock, where the U.S. government shot rubber bullets at peaceful protesters who were exercising their rights. It was truly a powerful experience that my words and pictures simply can’t describe.
This morning was another big event. When I was going through the events list, I happened to see that Al Gore was speaking. Since the time he first released “An Inconvenient Truth”, he has always been an inspiration to me. So, when I happened to see that he was speaking, I was more than thrilled. All of us as week one delegates got together early and happened to get a front row seat. We were sitting a bit to the side, which ended up being lucky because his secret service thought that the group right in the center was too close to the stage. They made them move back, but by this time every seat was filled so they ended up at the back.
Everyone knew Al was coming when a huge group of paparazzi came stumbling into the room with their clunky cameras. He took the stage and instantly caught the attention of everyone in the room. In most conferences, a solid half of the people are checking emails and not acknowledging the speakers, but this was not the case here. The power of his words along with his engaging slideshow had everyone locked in. When he finished an hour later every one rushed in to shake his hand and take a picture.