Post-protest at the Bella Center, Copenhagen (Matthew McDermott/Treehugger)

I’ve been following the proceedings at COP15 with some degree of suspicion, especially since the leak of the Danish Text last week. I have to say, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what Voz has been saying on Twitter about how climate change is a convenient target, and ignores a lot of the more fundamental problems with our environment that continue to screw over both the Global South and poor people in this country, too.

Living in Buffalo, it’s hard to avoid some of these facts. My friend Katy is the environmental justice coordinator for the Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeeper — when it’s warm enough to fish, she often goes out and talks to local anglers, warning them about the risks of eating the fish they catch. Unfortunately, and tragically, many of them tell her that they need the fish to feed their families. It’s a destructive cycle of environmental and human rights abuse. It’s happening in our backyards, to our neighbors, and it’s a direct result of our completely flippant attitude toward the environment.

It’s not just about carbon emissions, people. It’s about dumping heavy metals into our waterways. It’s about the island of plastic in the ocean. It’s about being able to live in and with our environment, and climate change is the last thing on my mind when I think about environmental justice. By correcting a lot of these other problems, the whole climate change issue might even be resolved.

So when I saw the above photo on Treehugger’s Bella Center protest slideshow, I just about blew a capillary in my brain. It really doesn’t look like this particular site was near where protesters were beaten by police, and the slideshow suggests the rest of the demonstration was largely quite peaceful, including intentional de-escalation on the part of the Copenhagen police. Why in god’s name would environmental activists leave so much shit lying around on the streets of one of the most beautiful cities in the world? How do they expect to be taken seriously if they leave trash in their wake? THIS is an aftermath of COP15 that we have every right and leverage to avoid. I’m just saying, and I am seriously disappointed.