Xmas in Paris

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Do you know what the cities of Mil­wau­kee, Syra­cuse and Min­neapo­lis have in com­mon? Think about it for a while be­fore you an­swer. Thought about it? Right, I knew you'd get it. All three cities, as well as dozens of oth­ers around the world, have traf­fic reg­u­la­tions based on whether the reg­is­tra­tion num­ber of their cars ends in an even num­ber (0,2, 4, 6, 8) or an odd num­ber (1,3, 5, 7, 9). But let's move on . . .

Re­cently, one or more of our gov­ern­ment min­istries – I am not sure of the ex­act names be­cause I am hope­less at names – prob­a­bly the one to do with sus­tain­abil­ity and maybe what­ever min­istry takes care of arts and cul­ture – pre­sented an ini­tia­tive called “1point5­tostay­alive” which ad­dressed the prob­lems fac­ing those who want to cap the limit of global warm­ing to 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius rather than the 2 de­grees Cel­sius limit which is, or so they claim, the one favoured by a ma­jor­ity of larger, more in­dus­tri­al­ized – and in­ci­den­tally more pow­er­ful and in­flu­en­tial – na­tions.

The “1point5­tostay­alive” ini­tia­tive aims to gain enough mo­men­tum through a pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign – start­ing soon, like yes­ter­day, one has to pre­sume – and spe­cially com­posed po­ems and mu­sic to in­flu­ence the out­come of the COP21 en­vi­ron­men­tal meet­ing be­ing held in Paris from 30th Novem­ber to 11th De­cem­ber. I can­not help but think of Na­tive Amer­i­can Rain Dancers – see how far we have come?

For any­one in­ter­ested, COP21 is so­called be­cause it is the 21st an­nual meet­ing of its kind to be held with spec­tac­u­larly few sig­nif­i­cant re­sults to show for the ef­forts. The Ky­oto Pro­to­cols never really caught on and the Copen­hagen fi­asco has be­come the stuff of leg­ends. Paris, ac­cord­ing to the home page of COP21, will host 50,000 at­ten­dees, 25,000 of whom will be of­fi­cial del­e­gates and gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Saint Lucia and the other na­tions of the East­ern Caribbean, along with the OECS um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion, has sent a boat­load of the usual sus­pects to the con­fer­ence.

Oh, dear, Dear Reader, you know well how I adore sta­tis­tics. The con­fer­ence will last 24 hours x 60 min­utes x 12 days = 17,280 min­utes, which means that if all 25,000 of­fi­cial del­e­gates wish to add their voice, each one will get 41 sec­onds to do so, and that is only if the con­fer­ence con­tin­ues day and night with­out a break for any meals or sleep time. The other 25,000 un­of­fi­cial del­e­gates will be do­ing what they do best to en­liven the Parisian scene in the mean­time.

This clearly il­lus­trates the non­sen­si­cal na­ture of th­ese mega-meet­ings. The cost is mind­bog­gling: 50,000 X $5,000 per del­e­gate rounds out at the tidy sum of 250 mil­lion dol­lars! In this age of SKYPE and in­stan­ta­neous com­mu­ni­ca­tion, peo­ple should be able to enjoy the con­fer­ence from home.

Now, here's my sug­ges­tion for making our mark on the world stage: First of all, let's try to get the coun­tries of the OECS to agree on one sin­gle mea­sure. There is no point in try­ing to get the larger coun­tries of the Caribbean to join in. Re­gional unity is a myth. Global unity for SIDS might be eas­ier.

Then we de­clare that all ve­hi­cles with num­ber plates that end in odd num­bers may be driven on Mon­days, Wed­nes­days and Fri­days. Ve­hi­cles that have even num­ber plates may be driven on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Satur­days. On the sev­enth day, Sun­day, I would like to be­lieve that we could ban all ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic ex­cept minibuses and bi­cy­cles – or at least ap­peal to peo­ple to try to ab­stain.

SIDS are ideal for such an ex­per­i­ment be­cause they do not have tran­sient traf­fic. They have a cap­tured pool of ve­hic­u­lar clien­tele.

In one fell swoop we would halve car­bon emis­sions from ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic through­out the OECS. Peo­ple with even num­bers would seek rides with friends with odd num­bers, and vice versa. Ev­ery day of the week there would be 50% fewer cars on the roads, and fewer ac­ci­dents one has to pre­sume. The air in Cas­tries would be 50% cleaner. Minibuses would be­come more prof­itable with more pas­sen­gers. The list goes on.

A story like this would hit the air­waves like none other be­fore. The small na­tions of the world would be lead­ers in the cam­paign to cap car­bon emis­sions from ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic. The world would have to take note that what can be done in small de­vel­op­ing coun­tries can be ex­tended re­gion­ally and even­tu­ally to really large so­ci­eties. Well, I think it's a great idea but it won't fly be­cause it is so sim­ple and just about no­body would get to go to Paris for Christ­mas.

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