The science is solid, but where is global ambition?

WMO climate report 2018 cover
State of the Global Climate report

With all the drama over the Mueller Report and Brexit in the news right now, it isn’t difficult to put aside the work that tens of thousands of dedicated people continue to do towards solving Earth’s climate crisis. And it clearly IS a crisis now.

This week there was a High-level meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All, hosted by the UN in New York. Fresh from the two-day long meeting, Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, Maria Fernanda Espinoza, President of the current UN General Assembly, and WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas held a briefing for the media. Taalas gave a presentation of the latest report on Climate for 2018, followed by statements by Fernanda Espinosa and Gutteres. (https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/03/1035681)

Ms. Fernanda Espinosa urged everyone listening towards action. She stated,

“We need to connect political times to the times of Nature. We need to act, and to act now. The numbers and data are extremely worrisome…We are capable, we have the science, we have the knowledge, we have the tools in hand to push back on global warming,”

Secretary-General Guterres was equally emphatic in his statement to the press. Concerning the upcoming Global Climate Summit to be held in New York in September, he said,

“It is important that we tackle climate change with much greater ambition. I’m telling leaders, Don’t come with a speech, come with a plan.”

“New technologies are already delivering energy at a lower cost than the fossil fuel-driven economy. Solar and onshore wind are now the cheapest sources of new power in virtually all measured economies. This means ending subsidies for fossil fuels, and high-emitting, unsustainable agriculture, and shifting towards renewable energy, electric vehicles and climate-smart practices.”

Of course, none of the stern warnings and emphatic urgings of these high-level diplomats and scientists are new to anyone who seriously cares about the state of our planet. We have been hearing similar warnings and dire reports of climate warming and its effects for the better part of the past decade. It’s feeling more and more like the boiling frog cartoon, made infamous by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth film in 2006—where the frog is sitting in a bathtub that’s slowly filling with boiling water, as it is boiling to death without really noticing. Except that some of us are finally noticing.

The signs of collapse are everywhere, all around us now.  Yet we continue to sit in the boiling tub, apparently unaware that all we need do is to GET OUT OF THE TUB and turn off the hot water!!   Humans are a strange bunch. One look at the stories abounding in the New York Times or The Guardian, especially in the Culture and Arts sections, show where people’s minds, hearts and souls are focused in these times. And it’s not pretty. People are telling stories and creating theatre, music and art exhibits about seriously frightening, dark, and horrific stuff. The stuff of one’s worst nightmares. And people are paying good money to view, listen to, or otherwise experience them. This is happening in major urban centers throughout the planet, if the artists have the freedom to express what’s inside them without censorship, which is another matter for another blog post.

Living in the world at this point in human history is, in a word, exhausting. The sheer amount and degree of human suffering across our globe is truly beyond comprehension. From the largest, sweeping issues, such as those the UN leaders are working so diligently to somehow manage, to the smallest events that an individual experiences in the course of a day on Earth, there is anguish everywhere.

And yet, the chaos and intense suffering is not the whole story. Simultaneously, there are also incredible moments of courage, daring, skill, intelligence, astounding beauty and grace occurring all across the world. The best of times, the worst of times, to borrow from Dickens.  We’ve got to hold onto HOPE. Moments of grace are such a blessing in the middle of all the sorrow. Here’s a song by Michael Franti and his band, that pretty much sums it all up for me right about now. I offer it as a small balm for those of you who feel similarly.

March’s Vortex

Sunrise_movement_protesters
image via https://allevents.in/california/sunrise-movement-october-training/20005440133178

Hello Interrelated Planet Readers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but there has been no lack of impressive happenings in our world. Like some of you, I watched the Cohen testimony on February 27th with a mixture of fascination, revulsion, sorrow and resignation. As one commentator put it, I was shocked at how little I was shocked by his testimony. My favorite part was when Representative Cummings gave his heartfelt and poignant reply to Cohen at the end of the day, reminding us all that “we’re better than this” as a country and as humanity. His words, and sincere energy while speaking, resonated through many of us that day as a voice of our collective conscience. Surely we ARE better than the continuous display of inflated human egoism we’ve been subjected to for the past two years of this administration. My only caveat to Cumming’s rant is his plea to “get back to normal,” to which I reply there is no going backward; there is only moving forward into what many millions of us desperately wish will be a transparent, just and truthful future government.

The youth movement for climate action is continuing globally. Organizers are planning a global Student Strike day on March 15th, to protest their government leaders’ inaction and foot-dragging on reducing and eliminating fossil fuel emissions. Here’s a link to Guardian journalist George Monbiot’s editorial in support of the youth’s movement. https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-02-20/young-climate-strikers-can-win-their-fight-we-must-all-help/

March is generally a month of unpredictable weather, and so far it hasn’t disappointed. In Colorado where I live, the mountains experienced avalanches over the last weekend, closing I-70 in both directions for several hours. Thankfully, human life was not taken in that situation. Unfortunately, the tornados that tore through the South were not as forgiving, and some folks in Alabama did succumb to their destructive fury. Climate change is a process that’s forcing all of us to confront how we are living through a critical lens, and asking us to make real, sweeping and large scale changes. Resilience and sustainability are becoming terms du jour globally now. No longer can anyone who denies our need for changing how we live on Gaia be taken seriously. The Democrats’ call for a New Green Deal, still being bashed as socialist rubbish by Republicans in Congress, is a rallying cry for a new, and sorely needed national overhaul to how we have been living our collective lives. The time of reckoning is at hand, and it goes beyond any one ideology or political squabbling. Coastlines are being inundated, lands once frozen all winter are now exposed and above freezing, ocean levels are rising, ocean temperatures are rising faster than scientists can keep up, and the lists of environmental changes continue to grow daily. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/

Members of the Sunrise Movement met with Senator Diane Feinstein in San Francisco, asking her to support the New Green Deal. Here’s a link to their Facebook posted video of their meeting. https://www.facebook.com/story

The young climate activists are energized, loud, and getting in lawmakers’ faces for a very good reason—their future depends on what countries (and the citizens who comprise them) do to control fossil fuel use now. The Guardian ran an article https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/04/can-they-save-us-meet-the-climate-kids-fighting-to-fix-the-planet which highlighted several of these young (under 21 years) activists. They are smart, awake, and demanding lawmakers to stop their rhetoric and actually take action in the form of regulations and laws to reduce the amount of CO2 being released into Earth’s atmosphere—NOW. Meanwhile, fires, floods, melting, tornados, and all manner of extreme weather events continue unabated on the planet’s surface.

From The Revelator online magazine, comes a list of environmentally-themed books for March mayhem reading. (Spoiler alert: none of them seem especially uplifting.) https://therevelator.org/environmental-books-march-2019/

Perhaps the most heart-tugging article I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks comes via a dog lover’s blog I follow. It is a photo essay of the unlikely friendship between a young brown bear and a wolf in northern Finland. For me it makes the whole idea of a children’s story about animals come alive in a beautiful way!  https://learningfromdogs.com/2019/02/26/this-just-beautiful/

Please leave a comment if any of these links or subjects strike a chord with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts, reactions and feelings about what’s happening in our world now.

 

 

 

 

 

Greta Thunberg is a fearless, badass warrior working to save the Earth’s future

 

Greta the Great
image credit: Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change. Because if we fail to do so, then all of our achievements and progress have been for nothing.” Greta Thunberg, speech to the EU leaders, February 2019

If you haven’t yet heard Greta Thunberg speak, now would be a good time to do it. She has suddenly gained the world’s attention as a mighty and fearless warrior for our planet Earth. And she is just getting started.

Greta is sixteen and tiny, with long mahogany braids, clear blue eyes, and a determined set to her jaw. She is Swedish, and for the past school year she’s been striking in front of the Swedish parliament house every Friday. Her demands are so very simple, and extremely clear: that the adults who run her country actually DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE AND HOLD TO THE PARIS AGREEMENT. Now she’s on tour, if you will, and has appeared at COP 24, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and most recently spoke before members of the EU on Thursday, February 21st. Whether alone or with schoolmates, Greta takes command of the room. Her message is utterly on point and without any sort of artifice. Her words cut through all the static and egoism present, and like an extraordinarily sharp blade, cut to the heart of our human-created, global situation. She is asking for the people who have the power to take responsibility for their decisions and to begin making better choices, now.

In her speech before a crowd at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Greta stated,

We know that most politicians don’t want to talk to us. Good, we don’t want to talk to them either. We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them because we are just repeating what they are saying and have been saying for decades– just unite behind the science–that is our demand.

I’m sorry but saying everything will be alright while continue doing nothing at all it’s just not hopeful to us. In fact, it’s the opposite of hope and yet this is exactly what you keep doing. You can’t just sit around waiting for hope to come, then you’re acting like spoiled, irresponsible children. You don’t seem to understand that hope is something you have to earn and if you still say that we are wasting valuable lesson time then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction, and since our time is running out we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess and we will not stop until we are done.  Watch her speech via The Guardian here

This young, fearless teenager has become, whether she intended to or not, the poster child for the climate crisis that is now in full swing on our home world. Most people will either continue to deny or else to cringe at these words, yet Greta, with her clear blue eyes and calm, measured demeanor, is calling it out for the rest of us. And she is absolutely right—the world’s leaders and CEOs ARE acting like spoiled, irresponsible children, as they continue to unabashedly allow the destruction of Earth in the name of profits. This is, as Greta pointedly states, destroying her generation’s chances at any kind of a healthy future life for all those being born and all those yet to come. She’s right again by stating that the Power Elite have known for decades that their decisions and actions (and inactions) would create the situation we are in now. And yet, they only cared about their bottom line, which grew increasingly engorged from oil profits as time passed.

Greta Thunberg is absolutely correct in her summation and demands of the adults in the world’s highest level meetings: Listen to the climate scientists. Stop pretending.
And above all, TAKE URGENT ACTION, NOW.

What she knows, and the scientists know, and what anyone who is not living in denial surely knows by now, is that human beings have already done irretrievable damage to Earth. We have instigated the Sixth Mass Extinction; our fossil fuel appetite has started the cycle of global warming that cannot be undone. The UN’s IPCC report states that we have roughly a decade to urgently change the way we’re using energy, or…. Let’s just say the world will soon be uninhabitable for many. Greta urged the world’s leaders to see our situation for what it is: a crisis. She wants them to panic, to realize that humanity MUST CHANGE THE WAY WE ARE LIVING EVERY DAY, AND CHANGE RIGHT NOW. Not next year, or by 2030, or any of that nonsense. NOW. Right now.

IPCC_cartoon _Kudelka
image credit: http://www.crowdsourcingsustainability.com/ipcc-report-global-warming-1-5/

What is, in my opinion, so remarkable about Greta Thunberg and her simple activism, is that she has completely empowered the youngest members of our societies to spring into action. Last week there were school children protesting all around the UK. There have been student protests in Germany, Switzerland, Australia and it is spreading. In March, organizers are planning a global school strike day for climate change. It’s no longer something that only some progressive adults are doing. Now that youth and children are getting involved and taking to the streets, the climate movement is gaining the kind of momentum that must lead to real change. Why? Because Greta is right: The world’s youth are inheriting the horrible mess that we adults have created over the past fifty years. They are the ones who must live in the future world. The Millennials and Generation Z (those born around the turn of the 21st century) comprise a large percentage of the world’s population. And more are coming every day. This is an unprecedented, world-wide crisis that has no national boundaries, nor specially preserved places that won’t be affected. Species are going extinct in all parts of the globe. The ice caps are melting on both poles. The coastlines will be inundated along all continents. Climate change is the great equalizer. It doesn’t care about race, gender or religion, material wealth or poverty, or any of the distinctions we humans are so fond of keeping in place.

The world’s children are waking up, standing up, and shouting. To ignore them any longer is not only foolish, but will soon be impossible. They will not be stopped. I, and many, many others like me, are standing behind them and cheering. The world’s leaders and their oil-soaked backers have done everything possible to ignore their citizens’ collective outcry. But they will not be allowed to ignore the children any longer.
Greta Thunberg and all those who will come after her will make sure of it.

To find out more about Greta Thunberg, read this article in Earth Island Journal here.