With network television and cable channels serving up, with uber-hype, the "beginning of their year" lineups; one might think that "COP21," which is appearing in headlines this week, is some kind of new TV show dealing with young police officers. Honest mistake.
No, COP21 is the catchy name of the U.N.'s Conference on Climate Change, which is meeting in Paris.
Approximately 150 heads of state and 40,000 delegates are in attendance to once again grapple with the whole climate change issue with all of its complexities and heated discourse. As with the last such conference, out of which nothing substantial seemed to have been accomplished on a global scale, they now at least appear to be in agreement on the need to limit carbon emissions. The mission of the conference is to come up with a solution, a long-term strategy to accomplish that ambiguous goal. President Obama said as much as he addressed attendees and the world at the opening of the conference.
He spoke quite well, our president. He quoted an unidentified Governor (couldn't his staff find the author of the quote?) saying, "This is the first generation to feel the effects of global warming and the last generation that will be able to do something about it."
Strong stuff. Powerful statement. Powerful speech; very well executed. This is the type of setting in which President Obama seems to be the most comfortable, a conference, a group setting charged with discussion and debate on an issue. But can a substantive outcome be attained? There are still those unwilling to acknowledge the degree of urgency, yes even the science of the problem. And even though China, the world's worst offender (we're second) is in attendance that certainly doesn't guarantee their or any other nation's best efforts, especially if their national economies would be placed at risk.
Grim, I know.
But, one of the 40,000 delegates in attendance is our own Bill Gates and his group of eight entrepreneurs. He has personally approached some of the richest people in our country to garner support for investing in the future of a "green economy." And he has succeeded in getting them on board. Gates, the technology billionaire who, along with his wife have personally committed $1 billion to fund research into alternative energy innovation and seems to be on a mission by putting a slight spin on the climate change conversations.
He is approaching the problem with his "businessman's mind."
While he concedes that it will take time, his donation (investment) and that of the group of eight, will encourage the gifted thinkers, scientists, innovators of our time to set their sights on creating highly profitable alternative energy sources. Much like our successful 10-year mission to put a man on the moon, Gates is confident that his initiative will bear equally impressive fruits. Profit, helping the U.S. economy and addressing a serious problem in one felled swoop. You've gotta really like this guy!
So, back to the conference. The big question is will President Obama be successful in coming away from the conference with anything substantive and enforceable, let along anything that our Congress will ratify?
I don't know but if I were a betting person I would put some money down on Bill Gates and his approach. This is a man that knows how to get things done.