To the far side of town / where the thin men stalk the streets / and the sane stay underground

So here we are in the midst of the UN climate talks in Bali, most of which is being held some 20km away from where I’m writing, at the gilded ghetto of Nusa Dua.

It’s actually not been as bad as we all thought it might have been. 10,000, mostly lower level, functionaries, their spouses, and, by all accounts, a swarm of the next generation of US snake oil merchants: carbon credit merchants. The Americans may be the environmental bad boys but they are not adverse to making money out of Kyoto.

Lots of places one may have thought would be rather over-populated with delegates are quite quiet.

The traffic has been the usual quagmire but apart from the odd bus full of spouses being dragged up to the silver shops or the monkey forest, screaming past on the bypass at 90 kph, with flashing police escort as all and sundry dive out of the way, not that much worse than before. Oh, and there are guys in cheap plastic shades (all aged around 17) standing on each corner with submachine guns, almost like Singapore’s airport. As Brigid pointed out, if one was to want to execute a very, very important person, a sniper shot to each of these guys first, as obvious as they are, would allow an aspiring assassin free reign.

There are Indonesian navy patrol boats off shore too. I guess there is some concern about Al-Qaeda trained Sea Turtles on suicide missions.

I read the words from the lady from Uganda who commented on how orderly and well behaved the traffic in Bali was. I’ve made a note to keep out of East Africa.

It’s a conference of contradictions to be sure.

Firstly there is the venue. Nusa Dua, built by the World Bank, in collusion with the Suharto family and assorted baddies, has a bit of a taint to it in this part of the world, what with villages having being forced out without compensation, reefs being dynamited and the like. It’s a part of Bali’s often dark, and still unresolved (or admitted) past. It seems like an odd place for the World to come together to sort out its environmental problems. That coupled with the fact that locals, unless they work there, are really not that welcome within its walled 60 acres (nor would they likely wish to – its a ghastly, horrendously overpriced, sterile sort of place populated by garish they-could-be-anywhere chain hotels).

Secondly the idea that over 100 jets needed to be parked in the region seems at odds with the whole concept of climate control – haven’t these people heard of plane pooling……

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