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On November 5, 2009, something happened in Colorado that hasn't happened in a long, long time: the U.S. Forest Service rejected a proposal to turn a natural area into ski runs and a magnet for private land development.  The natural area is Snodgrass Mountain, which includes inventoried roadless lands, beautiful aspen stands, raptor habitat, and open space.  

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice board member Lisa Renstrom is at the Copenhagen climate change conference and will be blogging from it. Here is her first report.)

What a privilege it is to be here.

My friend Steve English described COP 15 as, "The most important conference/gathering in the history of the planet. We must ALL pray, dance, laugh, love, open, cry, cajole, think, and inspire our deepest, most-connected souls into the depths of possibility and into grief, anxiety, fear, anger, and vulnerability, and, then to emerge with our fullest heart-centered life-nourishing centers, throw caution to the winds, be bold, courageous, and unbelievably articulate, as well as 'just short of crazy' with our collective awakening, blessed unrest, and life-supporting intention!"

That sums it up. Chaos and urgency mingling with the long view.

This is my 3rd COP. Last year at COP 14 in Poznan, Poland everyone hoped that Copenhagen would engage finance ministers and heads of state. We got our wish. So many of both are expected to arrive Thursday and Friday that the traditional role of the environmental ministers and negotiators will be rewritten.

Thursday, the big guns begin arriving. Stay tuned.

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 15, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: In a report released at the conference, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture says climate change is already affecting America and "poses significant threats and challenges for farmers, ranchers, and those who make a living off the land, which will have a serious impact on our ability to feed the people of the United States and the world."

President Obama is literally calling on world leaders to make a climate deal in Copenhagen. According to The Los Angeles Times, the president, who is coming to the conference Friday, is making round-the-world phone calls, hoping to solidify some kind of agreement.

A worldwide grassroots green revolution is needed to attack the climate change crisis, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says in a speech today in Copenhagen. The governor, who once boasted of owning five gas-guzzling Hummers, said his state's clean energy initiatives should be emulated by the nation and the world. <Update>: A Grist columnist describes the governor's speech as "a shockingly defeatist speech tricked out with sunny language about private-sector innovation."

With only a few day before the world's leaders arrive in Copenhagen, it's time for things to start happening at the conference, says the U.N. climate chief. Progress is "too slow."

The pope today weighed in on the climate crisis, calling it a moral issue that the world's nations must urgently address.

Check out The Copenhagen News Collaborative for a variety of blog reports from Copenhagen.

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Martin)

There is no shortage of irony in Copenhagen this month.

While Copenhagen and climate change are crowding the headlines at the moment, Monday Reads is breaking ranks to bring you news of a lighter—but we hope just as interesting—variety. Tool-use was once thought to be the exclusive realm of humans, but one by one other species have been added to the club—and now we welcome the octopi.

Researchers from Australia’s Museum Victoria observed the veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) digging up coconut shells from the ocean floor, specifically to use as a protective cover. Not wanting to be left empty suckered when they needed to hide and there was not a shell to be found, the octopus jauntily scamper around with oversized shells in tow. See for yourself (fast forward to 0:50 for the goods; stay until 2:05 to experience the sensation of being enveloped by an octopus):

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 14, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: As we head into the conference's final week, The New York Times gives a quick review of what's happened so far, what to expect over the next few days, the real issues at stake, and who are the key players.

Climate change negotiations came to a sudden halt today as a bloc of developing nations led by China withdrew in protest of what they called the Danish government's tilt toward the interests of developing countries. <Update>: Talks have resumed, according to reports.

Mayors from around the world are holding their own climate conference in Copenhagen, based on the premise that since cities produce two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions they should be on the front line of controlling them. <Update>: California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak at the mayor's conference tomorrow to push his theme that local government action is essential for planetary success.

CO2 is the bogeyman in Copenhagen for good reason—it accounts for half of global warming. But how about that other half? wonders The Los Angeles Times. We're talking about methane, black carbon (soot) and other emissions that could be reined in more easily, more quickly, and at much less cost than carbon dioxide.

<Update>: For a mix of reports from environmental journalists, check out the "Copenhagen News Collaborative" reports. The collaborative comprises Mother Jones, Grist, The Nation, Treehugger, The Uptake, ForaTV, Pulitzer Center, Discover, and OnEarth. 

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Martin)

What makes these negotiations so important, of course, is that human activities are changing our planet's systems of self-regulation. Global warming pollution from human activities is altering those systems faster than many ecosystems and species—including humans—can keep up with.

In recognition of this, a number of countries, led by Bolivia, are advocating for the final Copenhagen agreement to "take into account not only the right of human beings, but also the right of Mother Earth and its natural beings."

When countries object to proposals in the formal negotiations, they do so by insisting that the problematic proposal be surrounded by brackets in the formal negotiating documents. The brackets indicate that the proposal is not a consensus position, and thus remains subject to further discussion. In negotiations late last night, the United States and a number of other developed countries insisted that any reference to the rights of the earth be bracketed.

Given what is at stake here, it is frightening to think that Mother Earth might remain in brackets.

 

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 12, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

It may seem contradictory, but business interests are among the strongest supporters of climate change action in Copenhagen, reports The Los Angeles Times. The growing international market in alternative energy will really boom if nations turn away from fossil fuels.

Thousands of people and hundreds of organizations across the planet participated today in "Global Day of Climate Action," but Copenhagen is where the real action happened, where some 1,000 protesters were arrested.

I was in a plenary session of the Copenhagen climate meeting this morning, when Ian Fry, the representative of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu made an impassioned statement to the assembled government representatives.

He noted that nearly everyone in Tuvalu lives less than 7 feet above sea level, which puts them at risk of rising sea levels and increased storm intensity. He called for governments to adopt a legally binding agreement to cut carbon emissions, and expressed his frustration that "[i]t appears we are waiting for some senators in the US Congress to conclude before we can determine what will happen to the rest of the world."

On the verge of tears, he concluded by saying, "I woke up this morning and I was crying, which is not easy for a grown man to admit. Madame President,…the fate of my country is in your hands."

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Erika).

The Copenhagen talks opened with nightmare images of catastrophic climate crisis. The first session included an apocalyptic video in which a Danish girl dreams a parade of climate horrors—first she's walking through endless drought-stricken land, then she's clinging for dear life as the sea rises around her.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.