Governor Arnold Swartzenegger in an earlier incarnation
Lelei LeLaulu writes: European heavyweights from the Institute for Environmental Security had a face-to-face meeting last week with leading think tankers, Obama administration folks and those power wonks over the link between climate change and security. And believe me, the folks at Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon and points in between have been doing a lot of thinking on the issue. It is clear climate change is seen as a major threat to the security of the Atlantic Alliance and farther afield.
Meeting under the theme "Climate Change & Security at Copenhagen: New Thinking on the Atlantic Contribution to Success," the sessions were under Chatham House rules, which means I cannot be too specific about what anyone else said. So you're stuck with what I said.
A couple of decades ago, as a callow United Nations youth researching climate change effects on islands, Sen. Peter Christian of the Federated States of Micronesia told me there was another issue that was even more threatening to their well-being than climate change: "The sheer bloody weight of U.N. reports on climate change is forcing our islands under water!"
The assembled policy wonks agreed that existing international institutions have to be refined for better coherence and that communication was a major priority. One senior wonk lamented that the "ignorance of the elite" was a high-level barrier to global coherence. To which your humble correspondent suggested climate change was now too important for scientists and people like us assembled in the comfortable ivory confines of the Brookings Institution. The search for "global policy coherence" on climate change needs loud, clear, and quotable voices.
We need a champion to speak out forcefully on the dangers of climate change and the urgent need for global cooperation on mitigating and adapting to the climate challenge. And we need someone soon.
In view of the trans-Atlantic makeup of the group, I suggested that we need someone familiar with Europe as well as a recognizable player in the American political firmament. Also, we need someone who can command a standing-room-only press conference wherever he or she is, someone who can talk compellingly about the termination of our species on this planet.
Yep, the "Governator."
Arnold Schwarzenegger fits all of the above. And his final gubernatorial term is getting close to, well, termination. Can he draw a crowd in any country? Look at his carbon abatement programs in California.
Yes, among other things, he will be called the "Carbonator."
The recommendation was, of course, met with some polite skepticism, as were suggestions to get weekly shows on climate-affecting lifestyles on Oprah, climate change and food security programs with Martha Stewart, and so on.
But the holy grail for climate communicators is the hard-to-broach sports pages. However, it is not so far-fetched – climate, or a lack of a breathable one, almost derailed the Beijing Olympics, so you can be sure it will determine the venues for other global sporting events like the Football World Cup, World Cup Rugby and Cricket World Cup. It does already determine the host cities for the College Bowl games in the United States.
So when do you think the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition will focus on how to look good during sea-level rise? I am not a betting man, but I hear Ladbrokes does already take wagers on weather, so odds may soon be posted for the most likely year for the first climate change swimsuit edition.
The point is to get the importance of climate change to the community gurus and re-disseminators of the world.
Within hours of our discussions on the imperative need to get the issue to where the people are, the master communicator of our century, Barack Obama, was on the Jay Leno show selling the stimulus plan.
By Lelei LeLaulu
Lelei LeLaulu is a development entrepreneur lurking at the confluence of climate change, tourism, food security and renewable energy. A coordinator of the Oceania Sustainable Tourism Alliance, Lelei is also executive director of the Small Island Developing States Climate Action Program of the Earth Council and president of Sustainable Solutions, a renewable energy company in the Dominican Republic. He was president and CEO of the development and humanitarian agency Counterpart International after serving the United Nations on a series of summits and global conferences which in the 1990s defined the international development agenda. The former journalist hails from Samoa.