It’s all about the hat. Who knew that a cowboy hat would be the key to opening discussions with other people attending the COP26?
Pat and Sharon are attending the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow. Scotland. Folks from all over the world are here, from indigenous people from the rain forest to NGO staff to government representatives from many countries—and two ranchers and a farmer from the United States.
The COP26 site is amazing. The main venue hosts booths of all sorts. Countries have booths, and many booths are issue-themed. There’s the Methane Moment area and the Peatlands space. All are competing for the attention of the attendees. And the attendees like ourselves, called observers, are also trying to get their message out.
Our voices—Pat, Sharon and Ray—are not well-represented here. We are agriculturalists and conservationists. Little recognition is given to wildlife, unless it’s a polar bear or an elephant. Our message is that agriculture is not the problem, it’s a solution. Our message is that in many parts of the world, wildlife habitat is enhanced or even created by agricultural practices.
A pervasive theme here is carbon imprint of food. At the food venues around the site, a number representing the carbon imprint is posted. The Scottish beef burgers have the largest number, but we ordered them anyway. Actually they weren’t too far ahead of the fried broccoli.
Native dress is worn by folks from everywhere. Lots of feathered headdresses, Sikh dastars, Middle Eastern skullcaps, Saudi ghutras and Scottish fedoras are to be seen. Pat’s Stetson is the only one, and it attracts all kinds of people wanting to talk about cowboys and the American West. This gives us a good opening to talk about the issues, very much related to climate, and the importance of food and fiber production. We emphasize the relationship between farmers, ranchers, habitat and wildlife.
Rice is a topic at COP26. Lots of people, in their presentations and conversation, throw out numbers that, as Pat pointed out, add up to lots more than 100 percent. We attended a panel discussion at the U.S. Pavilion where the carbon footprint of rice was examined. The panelist from the United States said that two big methane emissions in California come from the Central Valley, a rich farming region, and the Sacramento-area rice fields. He said that rice is reputed to account for 30 percent of agricultural emissions. He also pointed out that without the responsible management practices of the rice growers, migratory birds would have no place to feed and rest on their journey. (https://iwjv.org/water/). Rice is a staple food for 30 percent of the world’s population.
Pat’s hat (and his deep knowledge of the issues) attracted a young woman who videoed us discussing the value of food and fiber production. It led to a conversation with a Honduran who loved the American West. It gives us an opening to carry our message.
Never underestimate the power of a cowboy hat!