Dear World Leaders, Cc: Everyone else

Dear World Leaders,

Cc:  Everyone else

There are moments in history that become turning points. In our view, 2015 will be such a moment.  It is the most important year for global decision-making since the start of the new millennium.

We believe it’s just possible that we could end 2015 with a new global compact – an agreed pathway to a better, safer future for people and planet that will inspire all the citizens of the world. We can choose the path of sustainable development. Or we might not – and regret it for generations to come. Which side of history will you be on?

There are millions of voices you can’t afford to ignore – the voices of the people you represent. They are voices of all ages from every corner of the planet – the voice of a young girl currently deprived an education… of a pregnant mother deprived healthcare… of young people deprived decent work… of a family from a minority group fearful of discrimination from corrupt officials… of farmers forced to migrate to cities as climate refugees… and of billions of other people. Their voices will roar ever louder against the inequality and injustice that keep people poor. They – and all who stand with them – are calling on you to come up with a grand new global contract for our one human family – and then deliver on it together. The great news is that in 2015 you have a historic chance to do just that.

Two critical United Nations summits will take place this year. The first in September, where the world must agree new goals to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle inequality and ensure a more sustainable planet. The second is the climate summit in December where we must ensure the wellbeing of people today doesn’t come at the expense of our children’s futures.

Together with critical discussions on financing, these opportunities are the biggest of our lifetime. We know from past efforts against AIDS, malaria, preventable diseases and saving the ozone layer that when we come together, so much can be achieved. Yet, with just months to go before these summits, few leaders are playing the leadership roles we need. We see climate progress but not yet of the scale that is needed, and a set of goals that are hugely ambitious but will be meaningless without brave financing and implementation agreements led from the very top.

If this does not change, we fear you and your fellow leaders could be sleep-walking the world towards one of the greatest failures of recent history. It’s not too late to rise to the occasion. We’re asking you to help lead that change.

Let’s be clear: the actions we take in 2015 will decide which way the world turns for decades to come.  Please take the right path.

Signed,

Aamir Khan, Actor & campaigner
Angelique Kidjo, Singer songwriter & activist
Annie Lennox, OBE, musician & activist
Ben Affleck, Actor, Filmmaker & Founder of Eastern Congo Initiative
Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bono, Lead singer of U2 & cofounder of ONE and (RED)
Dbanj, Musician & activist
Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister, Norway
Hugh Jackman, Actor
Kid President – Brad Montague & Robby Novak
Prof Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute & author of The Age of Sustainable Development
Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia
Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate & Chair of Nobel Women’s Initiative
José Padilha, Film Director
Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate
Malala Yousafzai, Co-Founder of the Malala Fund & 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate
Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice
Matt Damon, Actor & Founder of Water.org
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Mia Farrow, Actor & activist
Mo Ibrahim, Philanthropist & campaigner
Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate
Queen Rania Al Abdullah, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group
Ricken Patel, President and Executive Director of Avaaz
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation
Shakira, Singer-songwriter, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Sting, Musician, singer, songwriter, and activist
Ted Turner, Chairman, United Nations Foundation
Wagner Moura, Actor
Yvonne Chaka Chaka, President of the Princess of Africa Foundation

(Source: One.org)

Climate Change Isn’t Some Kind Of Future Hypothetical

If the world doesn’t cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral “out of control,” the head of a United Nations scientific panel warned Monday.

And he’s not alone. The Obama White House says it is taking this new report as a call for action, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying “the costs of inaction are catastrophic.”

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that issued the 32-volume, 2,610-page report here early Monday, told The Associated Press: “it is a call for action.” Without reductions in emissions, he said, impacts from warming “could get out of control.”

One of the study’s authors, Maarten van Aalst, a top official at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said, “If we don’t reduce greenhouse gases soon, risks will get out of hand. And the risks have already risen.”

Twenty-first century disasters such as killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in the United States, droughts in Australia and deadly flooding in Mozambique, Thailand and Pakistan highlight how vulnerable humanity is to extreme weather, according to the report from the Nobel Prize-winning group of scientists. The dangers are going to worsen as the climate changes even more, the report’s authors said.

“We’re now in an era where climate change isn’t some kind of future hypothetical,” said the overall lead author of the report, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “We live in an area where impacts from climate change are already widespread and consequential.”

Nobody is immune, Pachauri and other scientists said.

“We’re all sitting ducks,” Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer, one of the main authors of the report, said in an interview.

After several days of late-night wrangling, more than 100 governments unanimously approved the scientist-written 49-page summary — which is aimed at world political leaders. The summary mentions the word “risk” an average of about 5 1/2 times per page.

“Changes are occurring rapidly and they are sort of building up that risk,” Field said.

These risks are both big and small, according to the report. They are now and in the future. They hit farmers and big cities. Some places will have too much water, some not enough, including drinking water. Other risks mentioned in the report involve the price and availability of food, and to a lesser and more qualified extent some diseases, financial costs and even world peace.

“Things are worse than we had predicted” in 2007, when the group of scientists last issued this type of report, said report co-author Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University in Bangladesh. “We are going to see more and more impacts, faster and sooner than we had anticipated.”

The problems have gotten so bad that the panel had to add a new and dangerous level of risks. In 2007, the biggest risk level in one key summary graphic was “high” and colored blazing red. The latest report adds a new level, “very high,” and colors it deep purple.

You might as well call it a “horrible” risk level, said van Aalst: “The horrible is something quite likely, and we won’t be able to do anything about it.”

The report predicts that the highest level of risk would first hit plants and animals, both on land and the acidifying oceans.

Climate change will worsen problems that society already has, such as poverty, sickness, violence and refugees, according to the report. And on the other end, it will act as a brake slowing down the benefits of a modernizing society, such as regular economic growth and more efficient crop production, it says.

“In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans,” the report says.

And if society doesn’t change, the future looks even worse, it says: “Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.”

While the problems from global warming will hit everyone in some way, the magnitude of the harm won’t be equal, coming down harder on people who can least afford it, the report says. It will increase the gaps between the rich and poor, healthy and sick, young and old, and men and women, van Aalst said.

But the report’s authors say this is not a modern day version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Much of what they warn of are more nuanced troubles that grow by degrees and worsen other societal ills. The report also concedes that there are uncertainties in understanding and predicting future climate risks.

The report, the fifth on warming’s impacts, includes risks to the ecosystems of the Earth, including a thawing Arctic, but it is far more oriented to what it means to people than past versions.

The report also notes that one major area of risk is that with increased warming, incredibly dramatic but ultra-rare single major climate events, sometimes called tipping points, become more possible with huge consequences for the globe. These are events like the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would take more than 1,000 years.

“I can’t think of a better word for what it means to society than the word ‘risk,'” said Virginia Burkett of the U.S. Geological Survey, one of the study’s main authors. She calls global warming “maybe one of the greatest known risks we face.”

There is still time to adapt to some of the coming changes and reduce heat-trapping emissions, so it’s not all bad, said study co-author Patricia Romero-Lankao of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

“We have a closing window of opportunity,” she said. “We do have choices. We need to act now.”

 

(Source: The Huffington Post, read the full article here)

Denim Made from Recycled Ocean Plastic, by Pharrell Williams

Fashion designer, singer, and Grammy-winning artist Pharrell Williams debuted his latest project, “RAW for the Oceans,” during a high-profile event last weekend in the midst of New York City’s Fashion Week. The 40-year-old, who serves as the creative director of Bionic Yarn, will collaborate with denim brand G-Star Raw on the new collection, which incorporates the recycled-plastic-turned-eco-friendly-fabric.

“Working with G-Star was an obvious choice,” Williams said in a statement. “They have a legacy of pushing the boundaries of fashion and denim forward. Bionic Yarn is a company built around performance, and denim is the perfect category to show the world what our product can do. Everyone has jeans in their closet.”

With growing concern over ever-growing garbage patches of floating plastic in the world’s oceans, any product that can take advantage of such waste is helpful. “We all should [have a higher consciousness],” Pharrell told the Wall Street Journal. “Look, I’m not a huge activist or anything. I’m just playing my little part because each drop counts. I’m happy to be a participant.” Pharrell intends his Raw for the Oceans collection to be available by Aug. 15. Check out a promo animation for the new line.

Article by Michael d’Estries

 

(Source: Care2.com Article

How Cities and Wildlife Can Be Friends Instead of Enemies

We generally think of cities as devoid of nature. These crowded, homogenized, noisy environments seem to be the exact opposite of natural, and we’re correct in surmising that their creation is detrimental to wild species. “We paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” as the song goes.

But recent research suggests that while it may not be her first choice, Mother Nature’s adaptation skills make it possible for cities and wildlife to coexist, and even flourish.

Charles Nilon, a professor of fisheries and wildlife at the University of Missouri, recently published a study which found that while urbanization is hurting overall biodiversity, certain birds and plants thrive in cities. The results of this study suggest that paying more attention to the way we design and develop our urban areas could encourage a more symbiotic relationship between humans and the flora and fauna.

In the study, investigators from the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia examined the birds in 54 cities and plants in 110 cities worldwide. Cities studied included Baltimore, Berlin, Jalisco (Mexico), New York City, Phoenix, Potchefstroom (South Africa) and Stockholm. Nilon said the researchers found four types of birds that actually prefer concrete jungles – pigeons, waterfowl, raptors and house sparrows.

Which leads us to the moral of the story: how can we ensure that cities, plants and animals get along even better in the future? With more than 50 percent of humanity now living in cities (and 60 percent of the land projected to become urban by 2030 has yet to be built), it’s unrealistic to suggest that we stop building them. So we have to build them differently.

Nilon’s research suggests that urban planners should create new habitats to strengthen these city-dwelling bird and plant populations and attract new species. “The greatest loss in plant and animal density occurs in older cities that have a lack of plant cover,” he explained. So setting standards for the preservation and restoration of green spaces, with special focus on native plant species, is essential. The success of green roofing and urban agriculture initiatives in some of the world’s biggest cities proves that this can be done in a way that’s beneficial to both humans and wildlife.

In this way, cities can become havens where wildlife and plants are equally important residents, and perhaps the urban areas of tomorrow will be healthier, more pleasant places to be. For all of us.

(Read full Care2.com article here)

The Real Cost of Toxins

In environmental health circles, 2014 is being heralded as the year America’s 40-year-old chemical regulations will at long last be reformed. One typical complaint heard in the struggle to pass the Chemical Safety Improvement Act is that new regulations will cost companies too much money and the country too many lost jobs. This familiar tune ignores the other side of the economic coin. As in: What are the costs of doing nothing?

According to new study on BPA (Bisphenol A) exposures in the U.S., they’re quite high. The study, authored by Healthy Child Healthy World board member Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine, and health policy at the New York University School of Medicine, finds that the social costs of BPA-related obesity and heart disease were nearly $3 billion in 2008. It contends that removing the chemical from the linings of food and beverage cans would yield $1.74 billion in annual economic benefits. The study’s calculations were conservative and didn’t account for the many other health issues to which BPA is suspected of contributing, like cancer, reproductive damage, and behavioral disorders, which means these figures could be many billions of dollars higher in reality.

Compare that price tag to the extra 2.2 cents per can it would cost to use a safer BPA-free substitute. This estimated $2.2 billion yearly cost is a lot less. These new BPA numbers mirror other research that calculates the significant burden of the chemical status quo in recent years. A 2011 study, for example, found that the cost of environmentally-triggered childhood disease in the U.S. was $76.6 billion in 2008. Other research has estimated North America’s annual bill for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, neurodevelopmental problems, and lower IQ, just four conditions linked to environmental toxins, are as high as $793 billion.

By the same token, the removal of lead from gasoline in 1976, a change that was vigorously fought by the energy industry, has yielded $3 trillion in economic benefits since 1980.

The moral of the story is pretty clear: Good, strong toxics regulations work. They keep people healthier and they save more money than they cost. If you haven’t yet asked your elected officials for stronger chemical legislation in 2014, we urge you to today!
(Source: Care2.com article here)

Fracking Politicians!

Politicians (n.) – The last line of defense from Corporations against the people. Someone who is unaware of what fiduciary duty means. A person who practices politics. “Politics” is derived from the words “poly” meaning “many”, and “tics” meaning “blood-sucking parasites.”

Fracking industry contributions to congressional campaigns spiked 231 percent between 2004 and 2012 in districts and states with fracking activity, according to a report released Wednesday. “Like many industries under increasing scrutiny, the fracking industry has responded by ratcheting up campaign donations to help make new friends in Congress,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. The fracking industry’s level of contributions increased steadily from $4.3 million to just under $12 million between 2004 and 2012, according to the report, just as fracking’s importance to the U.S. energy industry grew.

Source: Huffington Post

As you read this, the Obama Administration is poised to let fracking run roughshod over our natural heritage — inside national forests, next to national parks and across millions more acres of our treasured public lands. Here are just a few of the special places at stake: Virginia’s George Washington National Forest … Ohio’s Wayne National Forest … Colorado’s White River National Forest … California’s Los Padres National Forest … even lands outside Montana’s Glacier National Park and Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.

Make no mistake: this is not just a full-frontal attack on our natural heritage, which would be frightening enough. It is also a direct threat to millions of American families who get their drinking water from pristine water supplies that originate in national forests and other public lands.

Source: NRDC Online

There are really a lot of reasons why money should get out of politics, the best, I guess, would be straightforward honesty when making decisions that affect the lives of millions that have no voice other than the people they elect to represent them.