Last month, I left the city of Paris after a week of meetings involving the climate negotiations. While there, I could feel two cities existing simultaneously. One was teeming with environmentalists and diplomats, full of excitement and nervous energy about the talks. The other was a Paris in conflict, signs of the ISIS bombings everywhere; flowers, extra police, wreaths of sympathy, military with guns and barricades.
Underneath the sense of external excitement, there was a deep sadness and melancholy within the soul of the city. When you talked to the shop workers, cab drivers, hotel housekeepers, managers in bistros and restaurants, the French would open up with a heartbreak and grief that reminded me of New Yorkers shortly after 9/11.
It is still hard to imagine that on Nov. 14th, Sarkozy initially called for COP21 to be postponed. On Nov. 15th, he recanted, as the French president, François Hollande, bravely elected to keep the climate negotiations open. However, marches and other open demonstrations were, understandably, shut down to insure the focus and sanctity of the climate conference.
Still, one does wonder what would have happened if the two other ISIS terrorist cells had not been caught by the French Police and more destruction and death had occurred. These were not isolated attacks like what happened in San Bernardino and Colorado Springs. The Paris attacks had been planned over a long period of time.
How many have asked this question: "Why Paris right before the climate negotiations? Is it legitimate to ask if this might have been one of the reasons that ISIS chose this city, at this time, for this reason?
ISIS depends on oil for its bread and butter. If the talks were even partly successful and the 3rd world leapfrogs fossil fuels as the first world becomes more aware of how we're dangling off a precipice of sea-level rises, the Arctic melting, wildfires raging, and weather extremes, then how might this really gut the very heart of what keeps ISIS's own blood flowing?
When I mentioned this to most of the people I talked to in Paris, their eyes lit up, "Now that makes sense." A few major scientists and top UN diplomats rubbed their jaws, saying, "I don't know, maybe there is something to what you say, but these guys are thugs; they can't think that strategically for themselves. Look how badly they botched the bombings."
Well, ISIS has managed to terrorize a major city and the entire world, and they're still doing it. Thanks to the good work of the French police, it could have been much worse. COP21 would have definitely been shut down. Who knows for how long?
Is ISIS a bunch of young thugs, who, like a multi-headed snake, lash out blindly without a plan? Aren't there layers and layers of people involved? Who buys the oil from them? This is the real question. Aren't there billions of dollars at stake? Would these people want fossil fuels to end or be limited in any way? That is one real question worth pursuing.
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