Monday, December 7, 2009

A Dramatic Talk

Five Toastmasters from HICT (Mike, Alan, Mehala, Nicholas & Jamie, and not including me) attended the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting this evening, and I believe it was an eye-opening experience for them. I took on the role of the Table Topics Master since Lorna Fisher couldn’t make it back from Penang in time – my theme was on the subject of “wealth” – and, it was as the General Evaluator said, an interesting and thought-provoking session, so much so that eight enthusiastic participants eagerly raised their hands to take part.

Of course, I did my “A Dramatic Talk” assignment from the Entertaining Speaker manual, titled “Deaths in the Bedroom”. My evaluator, John Gicquel described my speech as “very dramatic, very suspenseful”; “rich in vocabulary”; and “slow and progressive narration that leads to an impressive climax”, amongst other praiseworthy opinions. Still, my ending could have been left as a cliff-hanger, rather than me trying to give it a kind of conclusion which is a wee bit draggy. In the Open Evaluation, everybody seemed to have an opinion or another about my speech – which is great! Personally, I didn’t think I was that terrific – but then who am I to complain?
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UN talks billed as a "turning point" in a bid to slow global warming open in Copenhagen today seeks to agree curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and raise billions of dollars for the poor in aid and clean technology. Those concerned about climate change will keep “all eyes on Copenhagen” as Malaysia’s The Sun put it, and added for good measure, “Our future hinges on biggest climate talks”.
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World leaders did not attend the last time the world's environment ministers agreed the existing UN climate pact, the Kyoto Protocol, in 1997. Copenhagen will be the biggest climate meeting in history with 15,000 participants from 192 nations.
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Some 56 newspapers from 45 countries including The Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Toronto Star published on Monday a joint editorial urging rich and poor to unite in Copenhagen.
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"At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world," it said. "Social justice demands that the industrialized world digs deep into its pockets. Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles."
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The existing Kyoto pact obliges binds industrialized nations to cut emissions until 2012 and even its supporters admit is only a pinprick in rising world temperatures, especially since Washington did not join its allies in ratifying the pact.
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This time, the idea is to get action from all major emitters including China and India to help avert more droughts, desertification, wildfires, species extinctions and rising seas.
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It is interesting to note that countries attending these talks will fall into three main negotiating groups:

Poor countries are angry that rich countries, as a bloc, have not come nearly far enough on their emissions and funding proposals.
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Developing nations, they say, will not sign up to any targeted, binding emissions of their own, arguing they too have the right to cheap, plentiful fossil fuels to lift themselves from poverty.
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The European Union is looking to the United States, the world’s No. 2 polluter, to dig deep into its pocket and its carbon pollution.

“Driven by an ever-louder drumbeat of alarm, the world comes together today in a bid to lift the curse of climate change hanging over coming generations” as The Sun summed it up (p 1).
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To achieve this, the 192 members of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change must show unprecedented solidarity and sacrifice in the next 12 days. It’s a real challenge…

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