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)

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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)

Good News Roundup – April2013

Climate Change and overall scientific knowledge learning took a leap in US Education System by the introduction of new science education guidelines. Although the states are not, by law, required to adopt these standards, 26 states are  seriously committed to considering them. This not only underlines the seriousness and undeniability of climate change, but also emphasizes science-proven facts that allow for broader mindsets, such as the evolutionary theory.

From The Guardian:

“Climate change is not a political issue and climate change is not a debate. It is science. It is strongly supported heavily research science, and our hope is that teachers will not see this as a political issue or a political debate,” [Mario Molina, deputy director at the Alliance for Climate Education] said.

(read complete Care2.com article here)

Approaching the importance of transparency and sustainability in the food industry, a national, student led organization called The Real Food Challenge, dedicated to building a just and sustainable food system won a major victory this month by signing an agreement with Sodexo, the second largest food service company in the world making sure that all the chain of vendors and food producers, stakeholders to the company, are socially responsible. Since its founding in 2008, the Real Food Challenge managed to reallocate 20%, about 1 billion dollars US, of college and university food purchases to local, sustainable, humane and fair trade sources by the year of 2020, which means a big part of the industry invoicing coming from clean sources.  As Sodexo spokesperson Stephen Cox states:

“Transparency and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Increasing transparency is something we want to model for this generation of interested consumers and for our industry. Working with the Real Food Challenge is great way to do just that”

(read complete Care2.com article here)

On the persistent issue of Arctic Drilling, Greenland’s first female Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond seems determined to make a difference by standing against the drilling of her country’s grounds for oil, after a failed injunction by British company Cairn Energy on the protests by Greenpeace. From The Guardian:

“Until now, the people of Greenland have been kept in the dark about the enormous risks taken by the politicians and companies in the search for Arctic oil. Now it seems that the new government will start taking these risks seriously. The logical conclusion must be a total ban on offshore oil drilling in Greenland.” Arctic campaigner for Greenpeace in Denmark, Jon Burgwald.

Greenland is the world’s largest island, with a total area of around 2.2 million square kilometres, four times the size of France (read complete Care2.com article here).

Other news worthy of note this month are the rebuilding of the reef in Mobile Bay, Alabama, by Katherine Sather from The Nature Conservancy and 500 other volunteers (see the video here), so important for the ecosystem of the region, singing to the Lynyrd Skynyrd while making sure that the future of the Gulf is a bright one; the saving of the world’s largest humpback whale nursery from natural gas company Woodside Petroleum, preventing the construction of one of the largest complexes in the planet that would drill and dredge 6 kilometers out into the sea jeopardizing a world of rare abundance and beauty for sea and sky inhabitant alike; and the on growing success of the “Ring the Bell” campaign launched by actor Patrick Stewart to prevent and tackle violence against women worldwide in a powerful and impassioned speech to the U.N. (more information about the campaign here and watch the video message by Sir Richard Branson here).

CITES (shamelessly) rejects ban to protect Polar Bears

It is sad how politics are sometimes so evidently manipulated by money that they can be just on-our-face shameless. A proposal to ban the trade in polar bears parts was rejected in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) by a vote of 42 to 38, with 46 abstentions, on the argument that climate change is a much greater menace to polar bears than the commercial trade on their parts, a trade which kills 800 polar bears every year.

There are currently 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the wild, meaning that by 2050 we might be down to one third of the polar bear population.

Now, you can read the rest of the article here, but there are two points that I would like to underline out of this issue:

1. CITES, congratulations! I guess the failure of this proposal pretty much brings you to just shy of utter meaninglessness. If your purpose is, in fact, to protect endangered species you just failed miserably, all the funding, manpower, work-hours put into your organization seem to have just been wasted away, bent to the power of money.

2. It is clear that these particular politics does not take into consideration the will of the people, since polls pretty much point out that the vast majority of inquirees wishes to ban the trade on polar bear parts as seen on the poll from the article in question (on 18th March 2013, by Care2.com). So we can safely assume, I believe, that once again the whole mechanism of politics is nothing but a farce puppeteered by those in power to give us the illusion of decision, when in fact everything is decided on the level of profit that will ultimately benefit the few that hide behind the curtain.

polls

 

 

 

It’s hard to decide if you should be pitied for your uncompassionate nature or punished for your endless greed. Time will tell. On the meanwhile, shame on you…