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About the Author

Benno Hansen
Patent Assistant (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Focusing on our bright green future, environmental sustainability, global partnership and climate change.

MSc degree in horticulture from Copenhagen University, thesis on Hidden Markov Modelling of protein sequences - which is the same algorithm that lies at the core of Google. Winner of TH!NK2, Y!HAA

Have written for magazines at an advertising bureau, supported university students in their IT-tasks, helped maintain the university hardware, software and websites, vacuum cleaned bodies of escaped laboratory test frogs, been a mail man with the Danish Postal Service and counted the number of passengers for the Danish Railways.

My goal is to publish a best selling science fiction novel and/or get elected for parliament with an intellectual party. But I spend a lot more time betting on football matches (and winning), attending FC Copenhagen home games which I hold a season ticket for, reading lots of science fiction and popularized science, skating and eating organic meals with my beautiful, eco-friendly biomedicine ethicist girlfriend.

Oh yeah... every now and then I also blog ;-)

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World Cup & UN climate talks: Now at least the ref knows the rules

Published 11th June 2010 - 4 comments - 4977 views -

The world watched the World Cup 2010 opening match, host nation South Africa versus Mexico, while thousands of barrels of oil were fuming into the Mexican Gulf, UNFCCC climate talks ground to a halt and progress on Millennium Development Goals were questioned. Like the passengers at Titanic listened to the cruise orchestra even as the ship was sinking.

But the football game was also a clash between two very large nations each developing themselves away from 3rd world status. And, not least, it was a clash between the COP16 and COP17 host nations!

The latter fact hasn't gone unnoticed among the UNFCCC negotiators currently meeting up in Bonn, Germany where some diplomats have been seen in national team jerseys and Friday's meeting was concluded in time for the game. In fact, a joke is being told and retold between meetings (and now even emailed to people like me): The only thing lacking is Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen as referee telling everyone "I am sorry but I don't know your rules".

"The World Cup opening match is between the COP16 and COP17 host nations. The only thing missing is Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen as a referee telling everyone he doesn't know their rules."

Bad ref: "Is there anyone who will oppose this? One, two, three, four... four countries will oppose that. I'm not familiar with the regulations in this system, you work by consensus so this will not be sufficient, or? Sorry I'm just asking."

Match summary

Fortunately, in the football game the referee - Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekhistan - did much, much better than Lars Løkke did in Copenhagen. And his job wasn't much easier. The eyes of the world was upon him, his calls would set the tone for the remainder of the tournament, the competing players were hard pressed to perform and decisive errors would be written in football history books.

Then in the 40th minute Carlos Vela scored, the Mexican players celebrated and the home field spectators dropped silent. But the goal wasn't allowed. And the replay shows clearly why but it was a very close call, a difficult but correct decision taken in the split of a second leaving everyone feeling the negotiations were in safe hands. Contrary to COP15.

Good ref: Vela was closer to the goal than the second closest defender (in this case the goalie) when he received the pass - because the South African goalie in attempting to punch the ball away had moved just a few centimeters farther from the goal than Vela!

COP17's striker Tshabalala hammered home a beautiful goal in the 55th minute. The South Africans simply took advantage of sloppy passing by the otherwise dominant COP16ers, orchestrated a quick attack and put it in the corner of the goal. Later, in the 68th minute, more a more expirienced player, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, was fielded in place of the disspirited Vela by the COP16 coach.

Just 12 minutes before the final whistle a free kick deep in COP17s half of the pitch flew across the South African defense - one of whose players seemed to botch an off-side trap set by his team mates - and ended up at the competent feet of Rafael Marques, the COP16 mercenary who makes a living in the European metropolitan Barcelona. 1-1.


Football or global politics, this is exactly what we need: Attention, engaged support, determined efforts, fair play and competent leadership. 23 finishes, two goals, 30 fouls and four yellow cards. A lively yet not dirty game.

The UNFCCC meeting in Bonn, however, first saw the oil giant Saudi Arabia veto a suggestion from island nations to have the consequences of 1.5 degrees temperature investigated then their delegation's sign stolen and vandalized (put in the toilet). Foul play and bad sportsmanship.

The World Cup 2010 got off to a fine beginning. More allegories from football to climate politics than reasonable have probably already been made above. But let us not allow the Climate Cup to wreck behind our backs while our eyes are fixed on the beautiful game!

Saudi Arabian delegation at UNFCCC - with sign

PS: Don't miss African Progress: Alternative Guide to the World Cup.


  • Clare Herbert on 12th June 2010:

    Is the formatting off on this post, or is it just me? It’s display as a single word in a column along the left hand side of the screen. Just letting you know.

  • Benno Hansen on 12th June 2010:

    Wow that sounds freaky! What do you use to view the Internet, Clare? Because I see it just fine on both Mac w/ Chrome & and Linux w/ Firefox & Konqueror. Thanks for the warning.

  • Clare Herbert on 12th June 2010:

    I’m using IE at the minute, but it seems to be displaying properly on Firefox for me.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 12th June 2010:


    Even as far as the Philippines, the World Cup fever is on. And unfortunately, the issue of climate change isn’t on many peoples’ minds at least in this part of the world.

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