Friends, Americans, countrymen: WHERE IS YOUR PRIDE?
There was a day when the United States was a noble nation, a regular presence atop the podium, always leading the medal count. Now, the Canadians are eating our lunch — and they’re not being nice about it. “Yeah, you guys used to win all these awards,” one Canuck told me last night. “I guess we’re on top of the heap now.”
He was talking about all the Fossil of the Day awards, of course — the honor bestowed on the countries that are the biggest boneheads when it comes to working with the world to safeguard the planet. These dubious honors are being doled out here at the Earth Summit in Rio — organized by the Climate Action Network and picked by popular vote — and I can tell you, Americans, unless we get our act together, we’re not going to bring many of them home.
Don’t get me wrong, our representatives got off to a strong start last Thursday, taking the first gold of the summit “for the overall strength of their commitment … to not having any real commitments.” But the Canadians trounced us the next day by not only watering down language aimed at protecting oceans and fisheries in the Rio text, but also for trashing environmental laws back home. (Heck, we’ve been doing that for a decade. Rest assured that we will protest these decisions with the judges. We suspect the Canadians have been doping.)
But the insults don’t end there. Algeria took the gold on Saturday for trying to exclude non-governmental interests from the talks. Brazil snatched the top honor Sunday for its flaccid handling of the final Earth Summit agreement (as the host country, it is now shepherding the agreement to completion). Monday’s award went to Big Oil — the first ever given to industry, rather than a nation. What are we, chopped liver?
But really, it’s hardest to handle losing to a country like Canada. I mean, the national pastime is ice fishing, right? They’re as tree-hugging as they come. Or they were. Nowadays they apparently even have their own Tea Party called Wildrose, complete with a Sarah Palin look-alike for a leader. It’s so bad that one Canadian told me yesterday, “The way things are going in Canada, I’d rather be in the U.S.”
What next? Are we going to have to start pinning our own flag to our backpacks when we go traveling?
We can’t let it come to that. PLEASE write your representatives and tell them to be a little more recalcitrant. I mean, Obama is going to score points if he blows off the summit completely (and it looks like he will). But maybe you can convince Hillary Clinton to stay home, too. Tell them to send James Inhofe instead. He’d really kill the crowds here and guarantee a few straight days of first place.
I cannot state this strongly enough. As countless speakers have said this week, this is a pivotal moment. This is no time for idle talk. It’s time for action.
Get to work, people! Again, again, again!
For all of Grist’s Earth Summit coverage, click here.