Photograph by Paul Smith

Bloomington citizens held a vigil for climate change action on Dec. 11 on the Courthouse Square in the middle of downtown. Activists worldwide are holding events designed to pressure world leaders in Copenhagen into acting decisively on global climate change.

Fourteen people braved the cold Friday night to hold a candlelight vigil at the Monroe County Courthouse Square to demonstrate their concern about global climate change and the meeting about it now taking place in Copenhagen, where world government officials are meeting to craft a treaty that will ameliorate the worst effects of climate change.

The vigil was a follow-up to the worldwide demonstrations on Oct. 24 in support of a critical goal, reducing the world's CO2 emissions to 350 parts per million from the current 390 parts per million.

"We're asking the world's leaders to follow the science," said Michael Beczkiewicz.

The 14 "vigilers" were among millions who are expected to hold similar vigils around the world over the weekend to demand a climate treaty that will ensure the survival of life on the planet. For organizer Elizabeth Venstra, the vigil was "small but part of a larger thing." "Climate change, she said, "is the biggest issue of our time, affecting all the world."

Beczkiewicz took part in the vigil to show solidarity with the other vigilers around the world. He thinks that although the United States is the world's largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, our leadership isn't taking a large enough step to prevent the catastrophic effects of global climate change.
"Climate change is the biggest issue of our time, affecting all the world."- Elizabeth Venstra
It's outrageous that the climate bill being debated in the U.S. Senate is "subsidizing the industries that created the problem," specifically the nuclear and coal, Beczkiewicz said. It's "preposterous" that those two damaging industries should be receiving government subsidies when the government isn't adequately subsidizing clean energy sources, such as solar and wind power.

Rita Lichtenburg said she doubted whether capitalism, geared toward short-term profit, is compatible with adequate global climate policies. She said she was standing with the people from developing countries who are demonstrating in Copenhagen; they're "bearing the brunt of climate change."

Ria Collee attended the vigil to "stand in solidarity with the plants and animals" that climate change threatens and have done nothing to deserve the damage it's doing to them.

Don Lichtenburg thought it was important to be present at the vigil but refused to hold a candle since burning candles releases a small amount of CO2 into the atmosphere and thus contributes ever so slightly to global warming.

Huddling together to keep warm, the vigilers engaged in a serious conversation about global warming, including talk about the fact that the low-lying land of the Florida Everglades will inevitably flood as the sea level rises. Though the group remained skeptical that the officials in Copenhagen would agree on a treaty that will significantly diminish the worst effects of global climate change, they remained hopeful since, as Venstra reported, the 350 target is still under discussion in Copenhagen.

Michael Beczkiewicz summed up the gravity of the situation by saying, "Copenhagen is a date with destiny."

Linda Greene can be reached at lgreene@bloomington.in.us.