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Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Summer 2019
Volume 12,  Number 5 
Dear Reader,
Welcome to Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times once again.  This summer issue comes after some months away.  Thank you for your patience. 

I have led off with a photo in the top banner of Greta Thunberg, 16 yr-old climate activist from Sweden, as she sails out of Plymouth, England on August 12, on her way to New York to participate in the School Strike for Climate on September 20th.  She is a guest on a  6o foot long carbon neutral sailing vessel.  Greta will not fly because of the carbon that would be a product of the burning of the jet fuel.  The ocean voyage will take approximately two weeks crossing the North Atlantic. She will be speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, September 23rd at the special Climate Summit called by UN Secretary General Guterres to address the global shortfall on the targets in the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015.

The United Nations Secretary General has called the governments of the world to bring revised plans for climate action to the New York meeting on the 23rd of September.   He notes that even if every  country achieves their carbon reduction  goal as stated in the Paris Climate Agreement , the world is still not on track to avoid the 2 degrees Celsius warming that was our target.  We must do better.  This challenge has been issued 0n behalf of the entire planet but already several nations have issued statements pushing back at the proposal as being too onerous a burden.  Much is at stake in the next interval.  The work of Greta Thunberg has gotten enormous attention but we must remember the thousands of ordinary men and women who daily work to make the Earth a more sustainable home for all of us and all those who will follow.  I would expect that anyone reading this newsletter is such a person. 

The global spotlight right now should be on the UN Headquarters in New York as we gear up for the annual opening of the General Assembly.  The Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times has several hundred subscribers in nearly 30 countries and I try to get at least a mention of some places in each issue but for now we are putting our focus on the UN and the Climate Strikes.  Wherever you are, I hope you can participate in some public action to stir the willpower of our elected leaders to action on behalf of the Earth.  

Climate Grief. There is a very long piece at the end of this issue by Erika Spanger - Siegfried of the Union of Concerned Scientists.  She is addressing a growing concern that those working to solve the climate crisis have been encountering some real grief as they take in more and more discouraging news about our global predicament.   I have taken extreme liberties in reducing her full article for this newsletter but urge those interested to click the link to hear her full story. 

 Paul Hawken's project "Drawdown"  has been featured in Carbon Rangers in previous issue. He has supervised a large group of young scientists and activists to publish the 100 best practices for removing carbon from the atmosphere and preventing further damage. Both Paul and Greta push back against the language of "hope". Greta tells leaders we don’t want your hope, we want you to act. And Paul Hawken notes that often: “…hope is the pretty mask of fear. You can’t have hope without fear, whether you’re aware of it or it’s subconscious. What we need to be is fearless, not hopeful.”  

Many are aware of the Season of Creation beginning on 1 September and ending on 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis.  The Season of Creation is an annual celebration of prayer and action to protect creation. It is celebrated by Christians of all traditions, and the leaders of faith traditions have encouraged the faithful to  participate.  Local events 
range from prayer services to litter clean-ups to advocacy actions.  More information about how to celebrate is here.

May you can find encouragement here in the news I select each month.  With each issue I  conclude  wisdom from two wonderful guides on this long journey - and the wish that we find vital encouragement from them:  Pope Francis and Thomas Berry.   


Br. Kevin

Additional resources include my website and a link to the Thomas Berry Forum at Iona College: . and

Climate Leaders Ask for Massive Public Turnout at Upcoming Global Strikes.  Andrea Germanos

Greta at EUSixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg (in photo) will lead the Organizers of upcoming global climate strikes.  They hope their demands for a rapid end to business as usual and a swift start to climate
justice will be too loud to ignore. The strikes, which are set for Sept.20 and 27  with additional actions slated for the days in between  are planned in over 150 countries thus far.  It has the potential to be the biggest climate mobilization yet, said organizers. "Our house is on fire  let's act like it," says the strikes' call-to-action, referencing the words of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. "We demand climate justice for everyone."

Thunberg echoed that call in a just-released video promoting the upcoming actions. "Everyone should mobilize for the 20th and 27th of September," said Thunberg, "because this is a global issue which actually affects everyone." It's been the world's youth, though, that have played a driving force in recently calling attention to the climate crisis with protests and school strikes.

"Young people have been leading  here," co-founder Bill McKibben said in the Thunberg video, "but now it's the job of the rest of us to back them up." The two Fridays of action, according to organizers, will bookend a "Week for Future" to sustain the climate call. Nestled between is the United Nations Summit on Climate Change on Sept. 23 in New York.

Do we really have 12 years to save the planet?
Dr Helena Wright

When the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out in 2018, there was widespread media coverage of the headline that we have 12 years to avert climate catastrophe.

Where does the ‘12 years’ headline come from? This is based on the number of years we have left until the carbon budget is used up for 1.5°C of warming — the level needed to save most of the world’s coral reefs.

However, the headline might have given people a false sense of security. In my opinion, ‘12 years’ is too optimistic. We are facing an emergency, as groups like Extinction Rebellion point out.

Global emissions need to peak immediately and then fall dramatically each year to achieve the 1.5°C goal. We do not have the luxury of 12 years left: we must immediately halt further fossil fuel use.  Read More: 

UN IPCC 50 Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) August 2019

Land-Climate Dilemma. The UN’s climate science report on land use has landed and it contains some hard truths. Bioenergy and tree-planting are key tools to tackle climate change. But on the scale assumed in many models, they take up space needed to feed people and support wildlife.  On Wednesday afternoon, 7 August 2019, the 50th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-50) adopted the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) and accepted the underlying report. The SRCCL represents the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system. IPCC works under the World Meteorological Organization.   Link is here.

Hope or Fear — Where Should Climate Messaging Focus?

by Paul Harding

...most strikingly, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, boosted by her self-described tendency for ‘black-and-white’ thinking, found the issue so worrying that she began striking from school. Hundreds and then hundreds of thousands of her peers across nearly every country in the
world agreed, and  

her movement continues to grow. Greta’s messaging speaks of an unprecedented existential ‘crisis’ that requires urgent and full-spectrum action now, by everyone. Her words cut through the predominant softly softly kid gloves messaging with a refreshing directness. (Photo:The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, at right, at a session of the French National Assembly in July.Credit Stephane De Sakutin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images ). 
Sure there’s hope in her message, but it’s the fear that stands out. At Davos in 2019, for example, her words were full of alarmism:

Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.”  "But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act."

"I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is."

And then came Extinction Rebellion, a networked movement practising good-natured and slightly hippy feeling civil disobedience — often by glueing themselves to things. They rose to national media attention in the UK in April 2019, and are now spreading internationally. Despite some image problems and tactical mistakes in their mostly successful London actions, donations are pouring in. Even the name Extinction Rebellion’combines fear and hope, with the fear coming first and hardest. They are demanding that the government tell the (alarming) truth on climate breakdown, adopt much stricter legally binding net zero by 2025 emissions targets, and empower a national citizens’ assembly to oversee the transition.

Finally, a flood of climate books and nature documentaries have adopted a much more urgent and fearful tone.

Sir David Attenborough, one of the few remaining trusted public figures in ‘Brexit Britain’, narrated a new BBC documentary on climate change and a Netflix nature series that repeatedly focused on climate risk. Several alarmist fiction (“cli-fi”) and non-fiction books have been published, and the general message is that drastic urgent action is now absolutely vital to avoid real catastrophe.

Sir David and friend.

The best example from these books is The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells. If you haven’t read it, you should. But maybe not if you are prone to getting depressed about the fate of the world. The picture Wallace-Wells paints is extremely bleak, with serious doubts about humankind’s political and social capacity to rise to this threat. He does consider the hope versus fear question in climate messaging though:

they [climate scientists] pointed to a selection of social science suggesting that “hope” can be more motivating that “fear” — without acknowledging that alarm is not the same as fatalism, that hope does not demand silence about scarier challenges, and that fear can motivate too.

Wallace-Wells caps this paragraph by pointing out the truth that no single rhetorical approach fits all audiences, but also goes on to acknowledge that scientists (Exhibit A: the 2018 IPCC Report) have begun to embrace fear as the clock ticks onwards.

The very real worry, a Cambridge academic recently said to me, is that inaction based on too much hope (the ‘we can solve this easily so no need to act now’ risk) then swings to inaction based on fear (a “it’s too scary and too late and there’s nothing I can do so I’ll carry on as before and ignore it” risk) — the fatalism of hopelessness that Wallace-Wells mentions. The stories that we tell ourselves allow for a lot of bending of reality, and we all have a tendency to deny and ignore unpleasant truths.

The good news though, is that even with the (I believe) welcome and necessary increase in the ‘fear component’ of climate messaging, neither the IPCC, nor Greta, nor Extinction Rebellion, nor the cascade of recent climate authors and television producers, have made the mistake of portraying humanity’s current plight as fatalistically “hopeless.” At least not yet. It is understandable and perhaps predictable that people would become passive in the face of a hopeless, frightening situation. It would be unforgivable to react that way to a frightening global threat that can still be avoided. As long as people feel they still have a sense of agency (agency comes packed with hope), then fear is not a bad thing.

Pope Francis and Laudato Si

"Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all
who need to change. 
We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone.  This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life.  
A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal." 

- Pope Francis in
Laudato Si : Care for Our Common Home  #202

Thomas Berry and The Great Work

“By bringing forth the planet Earth, its living forms, and its human intelligence, the universe has found, so far as we know, its most elaborate expression and manifestation of its deepest mystery. Here, in its human mode, the universe reflects on and celebrates itself in a unique mode of conscious self-awareness.”

(Thomas Berry, “The Viable Human,” in  The Great Work, 56).

The Miraculous Hope of Climate Realists – EcoWatch

Source: The Miraculous Hope of Climate Realists – EcoWatch
By Erika Spanger-Siegfried .  (abridged version here. See Link for full edition)

We're stepping into a new year in the climate fight. The turning of the year is a milestone both for stoking our resolve, and for noting how deep we now are into climate overtime. In 2018 there was a lot of talk of diminishing odds and despair, and not without reason. So if, like me, you're heading into 2019 discouraged or even despairing, I have three things to say: you're not wrong; the fight from here on out is not the one you signed up for; but there's more to hope, even your own, than meets the eye.  

Awareness to Anguish. I don't have some hopeful gospel to preach to you; I'm not even going to encourage you to be hopeful. But since my teens, through my work and personal passions, I've been wandering a path from climate awareness to climate anxiety to climate anguish and I couldn't help but learn something about the true nature of hope after all these years of running it over with a bus. That knowledge not optimism or determination, or any virtue on my part has become my superpower over climate despair. In recent years, in fact, I've realized that I'm just immune to it; it lands but can't stick. You may be the same, though you might describe it differently or not even know it yet.

You're not wrong: it's bad. There's this great, intricate weaving the one we're all walking around on and someone's been snipping intermittent threads that attach it to the loom. Things are starting to unravel in obvious, abrupt patches, sending us scrambling. Other changes are coming through gradual but widespread loosening of strands. We race about hastily tying threads back together, but we're not as good as the weaver. The patterns are starting to become disorderly. How many more strands can be cut before they're unrecognizable? And why haven't we taken away the scissors?

Science. But who needs metaphors when we have science. As 2018 wound down, science walloped us. The IPCC 1.5 degree report, the U.S. National Climate Assessment and  other scientific works were released with stark assertions about the things that are all but lost, the things we can fight for if we bring our strongest ambitions to bear, and the waning gap between such ambitions and where we are headed. We saw the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) come and go in Poland with progress made, but vastly insufficient to the long-term goals.

Grief. At some point in our climate awareness many of us begin to grieve. (And maybe to rage or panic; more than once, I've had this momentary visceral urge: how do I get off this ride?) And the grief we feel cycles between the poles of acute anguish and resignation, but it never really lifts.  Many of us, understandably, have felt our hope grow thin. At some point, we lose a climate fight we really needed to win and we feel hope tear. And at another point, we reach for its comfort and we don't feel it at all. It's gone, sublimated like vapor from ancient Antarctic ice. We might think the despair we feel has taken its place.  But here's the thing: it's not that easy to lose hope.

Nature of Hope. The True and Gritty Nature of Hope When people think of hope, personified, it's usually a butterfly, or a dove or a sapling sprouting from the ground. Yes, and. That's not the hope we're talking about. Bring it along, but it's not the kind of hope we'll be using so much where we're going. In Finland, there's a word, "sisu," which gets crudely translated as determination, grit and courage. The Finnish side of my family liked to celebrate it. But it's meant to be more; something like extraordinary resoluteness and perseverance in the face of extreme adversity.   

Discipline of Hope. In English we say, "Hope springs eternal." In Russian it's, "Hope dies last." They're different vantage points on the same human impulse: if you love something, you hope. You move. You keep.You don't even get to decide. However poorly we tend it, however fragile we think it, this hope thing will not really, cannot quit. We might feel anguish, but despair just won't stick because it's not over. Maybe it's an evolutionary impulse to save our own skin and our loved ones'; to quote a friend, "Hope is a discipline for survival." But I'll call it love. I'm not sure they're different. And therein lies hope's unstoppable power: if you love anything you hope.

The Fight We Didn't Sign Up for
It's no longer the same fight we signed up for however many years ago. But you knew that. And we're not bearing the same hope we started with.  I struggle to neither over- nor understate the fight. Today, the only thing we need to ask of ourselves whether it's defeating the fossil fuel industry, winning pro-climate elections, defending climate science, or getting out in the streets in demonstration is that we're still in.I think we've got that. At the same time, no generations have ever had to question and concede the future quite like this.  And we've never had to fight quite like this, against an enemy that both opposes us and is us, over and over, and without clear hope of winning. There's no simple "winning" when so much is lost. Not gone, but condemned.But look: it's still beautiful, isn't it. I'll fight for that.

Copyright © 2019 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.

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