Climate Change: When Dreams Change

by Mónica Ribadeneira Sarmiento (ELP 2014), Ecuador

Image iconMLK-Monica-Sarmiento-article-image-300x244_2.jpg Martin Luther King, Jr's delivery of the speech on August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Almost everybody has heard the phrase “I have a dream”; most of us know what it is about. What’s more, some of us consider that the great speech given by Martin Luther King Jr is, indeed, a masterpiece. This masterpiece was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial (Washington D.C.) as the final step of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I strongly recommend that everyone read or hear it when you need to be encouraged to continue fighting for causes and principles that you consider as core values.

For those who study or work on political science or human rights, it could be difficult to find something more moving and inspiring than this speech.

For years “I have a dream” has moved us and encouraged us to fight against unfairness and injustice. Furthermore, it is relevant internationally and is timeless.

While attending the COP 20 in Lima, I could not help myself thinking about Martin Luther King´s speech when I saw a placard with the following picture. As it can be easily appreciated, this was another dream for another cause.



Image iconphoto-CR1-1024x459_2.jpg I dreamed a dream that frightened me a lot: I saw a strong wind, very very strong, it came and destroyed all the forest. The trees flew on the wind and just left behind sand and dust... that is what became of the Amazonian forest …
Cacique Raoni, chief of the Kayapo people
Photo Credit: Aldabe E, Dec 2014


Indeed, from one dream to another, there are a number of differences.

First, climate change is not moving political forces and societies as the civil rights movement did. Second, public demonstrations are not causing significant effects on policy-makers and public establishments as Martin Luther King´s speech did. Third, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place after much time had passed and invaluable resources were wasted. In case of climate change, we are running out of time as well. Fourth, improvements, compromises and decisions during the civil rights movement came from the hands of leaders, which took a long time to turn into reality. Now, we lack a similar kind of leadership and again, we may not have the luxury of time.

As a simple human being, as a citizen of the world, far away from the decision-making level, I am a small voice. Sure, I do not have the solution on my hands, neither the starting point to resolve the mammoth scourge of global warming. Indeed, most of the time I have no single hope in the international process or in the efforts of the national delegations (official and unofficial ones). But I do have hope in leadership, and strongly believe that we need it desperately to drive us to achieve worldwide results in addressing global warming and its related challenges. Moreover, I do believe that we need to commit ourselves to having and achieving the dream. Would it be a dream to draft a global agreement and commit all forces? It may be; but getting started on the road between COP Lima to COP Paris, it is the only one I have. I have a dream; share it with me, share it with someone else!