HIPPO Ponders

Translated from the HIPPO1 by PATRICA REMY

Don’t dare dismiss me as a dumb animal or just another pretty face. I have something to say to you humans. I’m not just a hippo. I’m HIPPO.

COP28 is the latest human endeavour in self-deception. This time ’round they called it “The COP of Action,” admitting in a startling moment of truth that the other COP conferences were not. Despite the hoopla, this one wasn’t either.

But don’t believe me. Sure, a Loss and Damage Fund has been set up for the poorer nations who are unfairly bearing the brunt of the climate catastrophe. Keep your eyes open on this one. As of December 6, 2023, pledges totalling US$656 million had been made. Watch, in the coming months, who actually pays into the fund.

“This morning in Dubai, after a long night of consultations, the world struck a deal that will guide countries’ commitments to fixing climate change. For the first time in the nearly 30 years of the Conference of Parties, a COP document managed to directly address reducing fossil fuels. The text “calls on parties” to transition “away from fossil fuels in energy systems.”

“The Weekly Planet,” The Atlantic’s environmental newsletter Dec 14, 2023

The deal still leaves significant allowances for fossil fuels to linger into the future, and includes language recognizing the utility of “transitional fuels,” which is code for natural gas, and “abatement,” which is code for carbon capture and storage, widely considered too expensive and unproven to be a meaningful solution. Still, it manages, however subtly, to “loosen the industry’s grip” on COP’s outcome, said former Vice President Al Gore, who had railed against an earlier version of the text. After bringing down the gavel, Sultan Al Jaber, the head of the United Arab Emirates’ national oil company and the COP president, congratulated the countries on a job well done, christening the new document the “UAE Consensus.” Now the oil-rich country will forever have its name on a major climate deal, fated to be repeated over and over in diplomatic spaces for years to come.

After Al Jaber finished his speech, Samoa’s Anne Rasmussen, a lead negotiator for a group of 39 small island states that form a powerful bloc at COPs, took the floor. “We are a little confused about what just happened,” she said. COP is supposed to end in consensus, but Al Jaber had finalized the text before the representative of the island bloc, which had been most critical of the text being passed, even arrived.”

You can read similar reports in the latest Greenpeace newsletter, in Collapse 2050, and in WhoWhatWhy. Of anything I read today, only The New York Times was exultant.

It will be interesting to observe when goals and time plans are agreed upon. 2050 is now the magic year for net-zero. However, it is still a faster and larger return on monetary investment to put one’s dollars into fossil fuels than into renewables, which, according to COP28, are supposed to triple in the coming years. There is a return on investment from both, but fossil fuels are still ahead, in financial terms.

Meanwhile, in London during COP28, the International Conference on Offshore Oil and Gas Technology was taking place.

And get this: The COP28 participants have declared nuclear to be a green form of energy. I’d laugh, if it weren’t so tragic. The Greenzine has commented previously on how nukes (April 2022) are not the answer and that the flap around fusion is a lot of white noise (The Fusion Flap). Not wanting to miss the atomic party, Canada’s government this past week has stated that it wants to triple our country’s nuclear energy output by 2050.

Assuming that you have listened to anything I’ve said in the last couple of months, you will know that I have reminded humans to live within their means. I have spoken of the pain it caused my grandmother to watch as one of her calves died of starvation. This, despite the fact that we hippo’s are genetically programmed not to reproduce when there is a lack of grass to eat. Like you, I live an easy life – for now. I have my own wallow. I get nutritious food. As you Greenzine readers know, it’s easy to take things for granted and become complacent.

But here’s the thing: Right now you are safe and secure, but what happens when things go down, as they surely will? I can still handle myself in the wild. All I need is some grass and a river, hopefully not totally bunged up with plastic micro-particles. Even predators won’t bother an adult hippo. But what about you, when all your technical paraphernalia are gone?

I’ll tell you straight: You humans are killing the biosphere, practicing biocide. Sure, some creatures will survive the current Sixth Mass Extinction, but the way it’s going, it won’t be your species. High time to educate your kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews, in basic survival techniques. Farming, fishing, and foraging are a place to start.

Remember: I suggested that farming be taught as a subject in schools. The school gardens one sees around town are a great beginning, but the Ministry of Education has to get serious about survival education. Besides all the other great camps offered in summer, there needs to be farm camp, woods camp, fishing camp, and survival camp. Qualified guides and farmers (as well as regular teachers, some of whom already possess the necessary knowledge) should receive a teacher’s salary for imparting their skills and wisdom.

The powers-that-be are simply not doing enough. It’s time for citizens’ coalitions to unite for survival. If you are a member of a church or service club, please consider making these educational opportunities part of your mission.


  1. HIPPO is named in honour of E.O. Wilson, who summarized the current climate challenge with the HIPPO acronym. Habitat loss; Invasive species; Pollution; Population; Overuse. ↩︎

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*