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Off The Reservation: It’s Getting Hot in Here

Leaders of the world are currently meeting in Mexico to talk climate change. But a protracted recession and growing skepticism over the science behind climate change has Americans paying far less attention to the outcome of these conversations than last year’s summit in Copenhagen. And despite the focus on U.S. involvement then, the only noteworthy accord reached was an agreement among developed nations to financially assist developing countries in building a clean energy future, thus avoiding costly environmental mistakes on the road to industrialization. But most of the nations that agreed to this compact have yet to pony up any money, leaving many developing nations to question the significance of participating in these talks.

Established in 1992, the first gathering was originally known as the Earth Summit. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was convened in Rio de Janeiro, signifying the moment the world got serious about investigating and understanding the potential link between human activity and climate change. Since then, Berlin, Geneva, The Hague and most famously Kyoto in 1997 have hosted the convention now known as Conferences of the Parties.

When you have a conference in cities like these it just sounds like you mean business. But this year the COP is being held in Cancun. Yeah, baby! It’s as though the organizers knew the participation from the top carbon-emitting nations would be so peripheral they opted for an MTV-inspired spring break rather than a serious summit. They probably heard how several Republicans in Congress view climate science as a hoax and how they plan to dismantle the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in January. So, that being said, COP’s choice of venue was probably prescient. Might as well turn it into a paid vacation.


After spending every ounce of political capital on passing the president’s health-care reform, Democrats in Congress have given up tackling climate change. The Obama administration has backed away from the issue entirely and allowed the Kerry-Lieberman bill to die, even though it had the early support from influential Senate Republicans like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. Once the realization set in that the health-care bill was enough to bring about the inevitable thumping the party took in November, the Democrats’ talk of climate change legislation disappeared entirely. Strictly from a media perspective, I think the Earth could use a better publicist.

Rather than parse through pedantic material regarding human influence on climate, it’s time to change the dialogue.

I’m not ceding any ground to my fellow Republicans here, but I think the entire debate would benefit from a shift in perspective. Besides, nothing could be more tedious than examining the amount of carbon trapped in dinosaur bones and measuring it against current levels of pollution in the atmosphere. Especially since dinosaurs didn’t really exist.

Silly paleontologists!

After soaking up the ever-intensifying sun rays in Cancun, it’s time the COP leadership goes back to the drawing board.

It’s time to make a splash and come back with a whole new look. The new committee should be organized through the Screen Actors Guild and establish the Look Who’s Killing Our Climate and Kids Conference. They can appoint popular figures like Ralph Fiennes (he looks and sounds super smart, and he’s British!) and Alan Alda (come on, who doesn’t love Alan Alda?) to head the effort, and have Ryan Seacrest do interviews from the red carpet. Controversial figures like Sean Penn will have to be banned from public appearances but might be really useful in negotiations.

Of course, the script will have to be written in advance by Aaron Sorkin, and all footage from the conference will be shot and edited by James Cameron. The smooth sound of Nelly’s “Hot In Here” could serve as the soundtrack for the proceedings. Outtakes by Judd Apatow, concert from Coldplay, and live tweeting by Ashton Kutcher, and we’ve got ourselves an event, people. All that’s left is the question of location, and I’ve got just the place: Alaska. It’s cold, pretty and is full of oil and wild animals – something for everyone. It’s perfect. The real coup here would be getting the conference featured in Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Will it really work? Oh, yeah. You betcha.

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