Halloween at COP26

Halloween. As a kid, celebrating Halloween in West Hollywood was usually a blast. By the late 1960s, when I was just about old enough to join a bunch of friends for a few hours of parent-free “Trick or Treating”, which quintessentially meant knocking on our neighbors’ front doors begging for candy, Rexall Drugstore, across the street from Kiddieland (the Beverly Center today) had a plethora of cheap mass-produced and heavily marketed Halloween costumes to choose from.

Each costume came in a cardboard box with a plastic transparent window that showed the flimsy face mask inside. Folded underneath the mask was a thin outfit, also made of some kind of plastic. I don’t remember what these boxes cost at the time, maybe under five bucks, but I vividly recall there being long aisles with deep shelves packed from top to bottom with them.

I don’t think I had a particular preference for whom I wanted to dress up as, yet I’m pretty sure that I celebrated at least one Halloween as Batman and one as the daredevil Evil Knievel. I was into capes, I suppose.

By far the scariest gathering of friends during this year’s Halloween begins today at Cop26 in Glasgow where all of the climate meeting’s participating politicians seemed to be (metaphorically speaking) dressed up as ostriches and with their heads buried deeply in the ground.

It’s not an easy gig, this climate crisis. I totally get that. For there to be any real impact, we all need to make huge sacrifices. And herein lay the mother of all conundrums. How the hell do you as a politician explain to voters and donors that some hard truths must be told and that some really tough decisions must be made if we are to avoid future cataclysmic meteorological events, without inadvertently creating a global shit storm as an appetizer?

I’m writing this post from a bed on the 15th floor of a relatively new hotel. I just got back from a tumultuous breakfast hall where hundreds of tired kids and their parents stood politely in line before stacking absurdly tall piles of pancakes, bacon, cheese, pickles and toast on their plates. It was like a factory and it got me thinking about how complex the supply-chain logistics must be for just this one hotel. I have to admit that I kinda missed the good old covid days when I was one of just a handful of hotel guests and enjoyed an amazing level of service and personal space.

Climate guilt. I think everyone feels it. At least to some degree. It’s probably a fleeting thought for most people. It is for me. You think about it and then just continue with life as you know it.

Simply put, the situation is way too troublesome and involuted to get a grip on. Insofar that we acknowledge that Earth is in deep shit, and far from everyone will agree or admit it is, we delegate the responsibility to fix the problems to our politicians. And rightfully so. But if our representatives are in denial or too corrupted to act appropriately, regardless of the heat they’ll feel from voters and donors, we are most definitely in a huge bubble of trouble.

Historically and evolutionarily, our species has accomplished some astonishingly remarkable feats. We have survived and thrived.

So, in the long run, I know we can solve our planet’s climate crisis and still come out on top. But we’ll all have to pull together, be willing to make some serious sacrifices and above all, stop hiding behind cheap plastic masks that obscure our view and distract us from our problems.

Halloween is over folks.