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.
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.