Monthly Archives: December 2009
If you were to read just one article about Copenhagen, read this.
Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.
What did China do, you ask?
China has made its own pledges to reduce carbon intensity, or the amount of emissions produced per unit of GDP, but blocked European countries from including their commitment to cut absolute emissions by 80 percent by 2050, as well as commitments to specific dates when emissions would peak.
China, backed at times by India, then proceeded to take out all the numbers that mattered. A 2020 peaking year in global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures to 2C, was removed and replaced by woolly language suggesting that emissions should peak “as soon as possible”. The long-term target, of global 50% cuts by 2050, was also excised. No one else, perhaps with the exceptions of India and Saudi Arabia, wanted this to happen. I am certain that had the Chinese not been in the room, we would have left Copenhagen with a deal that had environmentalists popping champagne corks popping in every corner of the world.
I’ve been ranting to a couple of friends about how selfish Americans are. Looks like selfishness is not Western after all: 自私是全世界的. So much for communism. God save the Queen, and may stumbling blocks have millstones hung around their necks.
In Singapore, everyone wants to be seen, and everyone is seen. People see people who see people in Gucci and Prada and Zegna, because all that glitters is shopping. Patriotic duty, no less; the Lion City was built on commerce. This ancient heartbeat pulsates deep in the Singaporean psyche, although transplanted from the comatose, balloon-filled River to the vibrant, psychedelic Orchard, which now plays temple to the island’s timeless soul. It wasn’t always like that. The Museum commemorates a “great success”: at the press of an easy button, the smelly markets and riverfolk and twakows disappeared to make way for the gleaming, plastic Quays! A miracle.
If one is not seen, one camwhores. But this is not necessary, because Singaporeans are special, and are always seen. Photographers already take pictures every five steps one takes — so to smile or not to smile, that is the question. Singaporeans are all superstars. Happy ones at that, for they have the best paparazzi in the world: no blinding flashes, no mobs, no interviews! What more can you ask for? Singaporeans deserve perpetual attention because Singapore is a celebrity on the world stage. Tis’ a small (not to mention invisible) price to pay for “unprecedented, breakneck success in a volatile ethnic mix while enveloped by rabid enemies,” yet another miracle. An overdose of limelight? Drown your worries at the malls, for consumption is the best painkiller.
These are the miracles of Singapore: a yin-yang complex of shopping and surveillance that has summoned success after success against all odds. The Dao of Singapore stands tall for all to see. See and gape and wonder, for life is not nasty, brutish, and short — it is clean, air-conditioned, and sterile. Welcome to Singabore.
God will understand.
And if he doesn’t, he is not God, and we need not worry.