"If we don't act boldly (with regards to climate change), the bill that could come due will be mass migrations. And cities submerged. And nations displaced... The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition, and there must be a sense of urgency about bringing the agreement into force...Only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair." - President Barack Obama, Address to the U.N. General Assembly, 9/20/16
Donald Trump can call it a hoax all he wants: climate change is real. I saw it with my own eyes earlier this month in Alaska, where the glaciers have retreated with alarming speed, some reduced to little more than dirty snowballs. Fortunately, world leaders have decided to do something about it, meeting last year in Paris to draft the first comprehensive, worldwide agreement to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases beginning in 2020. With ratification by the U.S. and China earlier this month, and India's announcement over the weekend that they will ratify it this week, the agreement is tantalizingly close to the 55% threshold required for it to take effect.
But, with Trump vowing to pull out of Paris if he is elected president, the agreement's fate is still far from certain. So, on the eve of last week's U.N. General Assembly, Jesse Paris Smith (daughter of Patti Smith) and Rebecca Foon assembled an all-star lineup of musicians and activists at City Winery through their watchdog organization Pathway to Paris. Performers included folksters Martha Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche and Suzzy Roche, the ecstatic thrash of Xylouris/White, and the remarkable Tibetan vocalist Techung.
There were words by former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe (wearing a lengthy beard) and Bill McKibben, activist and author of one of the first books on climate change. McKibben informed us that this has been the hottest year on record, and that 40% of the world's coral reefs have disappeared in the past year. With Paris Smith and Foon playing underneath, McKibben read Wallace Berry's poem "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" which instructs: "Every day do something that won’t compute."
After ensemble performances of "It Ain't Easy Being Green" and "Imagine", the show ended with former New York Dolls frontman David Johansen performing with Mercury Rev. It didn't take long for Johansen to win over the room with his lounge lizard-like charisma, his gravelly voice easily carrying over the band. Appropriately enough, he finished with his alter-ego Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot", leading a congo line through the room that sent everyone home with a smile.
More pics on the photo page.