Youth Voices in Copenhagen

Over 100 world leaders, President Obama included, will converge in Copenhagen this week and next for the UN Climate Change Conference, but they are not the only ones flocking to the Danish capital. Thousands of young people from all over the world, 500+ from the United States alone, are pouring into the Bella Convention Center to make delegates take notice. They may come from every corner of the planet, but they all share the same message: Now is the time to fight climate change. Here are two awesome groups leading the charge.

Expedition Copenhagen

Thumbnail image for steger_emeritus-in.jpgWill Steger, the renowned polar explorer, educator, activist, and National Geographic Explorer in Residence Emeritus, is among the conference attendees. With him is Expedition Copenhagen, a dozen of the Midwest’s most dedicated youth, intent on spreading the word about the impacts of climate change and elevating the status of youth voices around the world on this topic. As a Midwesterner myself, I am extremely proud of these young people and their dedication to the environment!

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Danish holiday treats: Pudding, pancakes, and potato latkes

In our “Holiday Geocrafts and Treats” post, we suggested trying some traditional ethnic dishes. Of course, the possibilities are endless–nearly every culture on Earth from Mexico to Monaco has its own suite of seasonal recipes. So, to narrow the list, we stuck with our Geography in the News theme of Christmas in Denmark, and added a Chanukah recipe for good measure (of course, Jews are an important minority in Denmark as throughout much of Europe–ever read the excellent children’s book “Number the Stars?”)

So, without further ado, here are our favorite recipes for Danish rice pudding, Æbleskivers, and Jewish potato latkes.

ricepudding.jpgDanish Rice Pudding
Rice pudding is consumed throughout the holiday season in Denmark. On Christmas Eve, it follows the traditional meal of goose–the lucky guest to find the almond hidden in the pudding gets a prize. Another serving is offered at night to appease the prankster elf Nisse, who might otherwise make mischief. On Christmas morning, rice pudding is even eaten for breakfast!

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Glaedig Jul! (Merry Christmas!)

A discussion of December happenings in Denmark (see previous post) would not be complete without Christmas, the nation’s most celebrated holiday. Although climate change might alter the possibility of a white Christmas, Danish traditions are here to stay! This holiday is big in Denmark, and even the Danish word for Christmas, Jul, means “feast,” and modern traditions have origins in old Nordic culture. Good eats … Continue reading Glaedig Jul! (Merry Christmas!)

Gearing Up for Climate Change in Copenhagen

Thumbnail image for 800px-Copnhagen_Arial_View_Night.jpgThe United Nations Climate Change Conference is underway in Copenhagen. Over the course of the 12 day summit, participants from 192 countries representing governments, the business community, and civil society will attempt to agree on “an ambitious, global agreement that meets the challenge set by science,” although many officials doubt that a solid treaty will be achieved. Instead, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, outlined these four questions, and feels that if these questions are answered, a sufficient framework will be in place to solidify future plans:
1. How much are the industrialized countries willing to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases?
2. How much are major developing countries such as China and India willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions?
3. How is the help needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change going to be financed?
4. How is that money going to be managed?
Hammering out all the little details will be tricky, de Boer says, but if conference participants can agree on these points, he’ll be happy.

So why do we care as geographers?

This conference highlights environmental, political, and cultural issues… all topics that geographers study. The effect that this conference could have on climate legislation is clear, but just think about the logistics and cultural hurdles of getting representatives from every country in the UN together in one place to come to a solid agreement. A tricky game to play!

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