Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Vol. 7, No. 6
July-August 2014
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Competing Narratives on Climate
Dear Reader,
This summer edition collects a few perspectives on the current discussion around the growing impact of climate change , current dangers, future prospects and various responses being offered.  I am taking the liberty of assuming that  many  readers in the Northern Hemisphere  may have more leisure time during the summer weeks for reading and thinking; there are more entries here than usual. 

Inequalities Need Not Continue
The United Nations discussion  to draft sustainable development goals for the next 15 years  remains a crucial conversation.  Civil society has been advocating diligently for the voiceless to keep member states focused on a rights-based approach.  The UN effort does not limit itself to climate but takes on a wide array of global challenges in the hopes of designing strategies to eliminate poverty and thus lift millions from a deeply unjust existence where it is safe to say," if you are born poor, you will die poor."   Huge inequalities exist within and between nations.  The prime challenge  to be faced by the member states at the UN  is how to deliver development to those made poor while preserving the planet boundaries we know must be respected if succeeding generations are to thrive.  Mechanisms of accountability will be needed.  Compromise and sacrifice will emerge as realities most have not embraced in previous emergencies.

Leaders are Speaking Out
The climate challenge looms over all discussions now.  Several entries this month report on prospects for addressing our predicament.  Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew have been wonderfully direct on care of Earth.  President Obama in the USA has made clear his plan to work around a recalcitrant congress to move on the task.   Bill McKibben describes the public demonstrations that seem required to raise awareness and stiffen political will in these engagements.  Several long time opponents of limiting emissions from coal plants are now publicly sharing their belief that we need to turn away from carbon as our first choice in energy and move toward renewables immediately.

Young People Taking on the Challenge
I can report that the plans for the New York March have begun in earnest.  I was at a planning event this week in New York City and found wonderful energy moving in the group.  The Youth Group subcommittee especially gives real hope to the project. They are inclusive, alert, motivated, informed and willing to devote many hours to a successful outcome.  They know that the young will necessarily carry the burdens if we fall short on our efforts.

Obstacles Remain
One enormous obstacle to action is democratic governance:  
 "As long as climate-change action is perceived to involve sacrifice, and as long as making sacrifices is unpopular, the democratic mechanism of government is unlikely to produce leadership that will be seriously committed to climate-change action. And yet some steps have been taken. How is that so, and can they be taken further?"  (Tim Hayward, U. of Edinburgh).  Let us hope there are good answers and very soon.  To learn more, please click on some of the links below or visit my website: Here. ---Br. Kevin Cawley, Edmund Rice International
For Those Celebrating:  Happy Fourth of July!


Thomas Berry (1915-2009) 

“The basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the Earth. If the dynamics of the Universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the Sun, and formed the Earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the Universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.”

Pope and Patriarch

On Sunday, May 25, 2014,  to conclude their historic meeting in Jerusalem,  Pope Francis joined Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in signing the Common Declaration. In Paragraph six, the Declaration affirms:

It is our profound conviction that the future of the human family depends also on how we safeguard – both prudently and compassionately, with justice and fairness – the gift of creation that our Creator has entrusted to us. Therefore, we acknowledge in repentance the wrongful mistreatment of our planet, which is tantamount to sin before the eyes of God. We reaffirm our responsibility and obligation to foster a sense of humility and moderation so that all may feel the need to respect creation and to safeguard it with care. Together, we pledge our commitment to raising awareness about the stewardship of creation; we appeal to all people of goodwill to consider ways of living less wastefully and more frugally, manifesting less greed and more generosity for the protection of God’s world and the benefit of His people.

United Nations :
Discussions Continue for Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - or Rio+20 - took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 20-22 June 2012. It resulted in a focused political outcome document which contains clear and practical measures for implementing sustainable development.

In Rio, Member States decided to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post 2015 development agenda.

Open Working Group 
The Open Working Group on SDGs convened its twelfth session at UN headquarters in New York in June. Unlike the previous sessions, delegates met in informal sessions to consider a selection of the most up to date proposed goals. As a follow-up to the meeting, the Co-Chairs of the OWG will be producing an updated version of its zero draft, which is scheduled to be released on 30 June. It is envisioned that it will be a more succinct and focused document with fewer targets.

Member States have been meeting in a special shared arrangement that allows additional member states to participate -  originally only 30 member states were to be meeting but arrangements have now permitted 70+ states to take active parts.   Civil Society is represented by the nine major groups developed at the Rio summit in addition to other stakeholders.  

Co-Chairs for Open Working Group
The co-chairs for the OWG deserve the gratitude of all participants for their gracious and supportive presiding at these many hours of deliberation:  

Mr. Macharia Kamau 
Permanent Representative 
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kenya to 
the United Nation  

Mr. Csaba KÅ‘rösi 
Permanent Representative 
Permanent Mission of Hungary to 
the United Nations 

Final Session OWG in July
With only one more OWG session remaining, the delegates must reach agreement on the final package of proposed SDGs to be submitted to the UN General Assembly as part of the deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda.

Upcoming activities of the OWG:
Another set of informal-informals scheduled for 9-11 July
Final meeting of the OWG scheduled for 14-18 July
Read More.

Climate Change and Human Rights

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and now Founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice:

Statement to the Human Rights Council on June 27, 2014:

Climate Change is About Human Rights
Climate change is, I believe, not just an issue of atmospheric science; is also about human rights. The current and future impacts of climate change undermine human rights, including the right to food, to health and water, so I welcome the adoption, by consensus,  of a the new resolution A/HRC/26/L.33 by the Human Rights Council which recognises the need to fully respect  human rights when taking climate action.

Climate change is a global problem which urgently needs bold solutions that are fair, and protect and respect the rights of people. A renewed emphasis on the impacts of climate change by the Human Rights Council is therefore timely, as we face into the negotiation of a new climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015 and the development of the Post- 2015 Development Agenda.

An Issue of Development and Rights
We need to change the debate on climate change – to move beyond its construct as a scientific or environmental problem and to realise that it is in essence an issue of development and of rights. Taking a climate justice approach to climate change means you respect human rights. I particularly welcome the Human Rights Council’s reaffirmation that human rights principles and obligations can inform and strengthen policy making on climate change at all levels.

Climate Justice Website Information: Here
Climate justice links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly. Climate justice is informed by science, responds to science and acknowledges the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.

In seeking through its mission to realise its vision of a world engaged in the advancing of climate justice, theMary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice dedicates itself to action which will be informed by core principles.


Peoples' Climate March NYC

Sunday, September 21, 2014

By Bill McKibben

This is an invitation, an invitation to come to New York City. An invitation to anyone who'd like to prove to themselves, and to their children, that they give a damn about the biggest crisis our civilization has ever faced.

Large Crowds Expected
My guess is people will come by the tens of thousands, and it will be the largest demonstration yet of human resolve in the face of climate change. Sure, some of it will be exciting – who doesn't like the chance to march and sing and carry a clever sign through the canyons of Manhattan? But this is dead-serious business, a signal moment in the gathering fight of human beings to do something about global warming before it's too late to do anything but watch. You'll tell your grandchildren, assuming we win. So circle September 20th and 21st on your calendar, and then I'll explain.  Read More.

Climate Summit at UN 
Since Ban Ki-moon runs the United Nations, he's altogether aware that we're making no progress as a planet on slowing climate change. He presided over the collapse of global-climate talks at Copenhagen in 2009, and he knows the prospects are not much better for the "next Copenhagen" in Paris in December 2015. In order to spur those talks along, he's invited the world's leaders to New York in late September for a climate summit.  Read More.

President Obama Using Executive Power with EPA to Address Carbon Emissions in USA

Investors Group Backs Plans

Not all business groups are calling President Obama’s climate plan a bottom-line buster.

The environmental advocacy group Ceres released a letter of support to the White House with backing from 173 investors and companies including giants such as Unilever, VF Corporation  and  Mars.

The investors, who manage a combined $800 billion in assets, said they were looking for long-term policies that would protect their portfolios.

Clean Energy Portfolios Needed
“Analysts are predicting that climate change (and related policy uncertainty) could add as much as 10 percent to portfolio-wide risk in the next two decades, putting trillions of dollars of institutional investors’ assets at risk. In order to manage this risk, we, as investors, are seeking long-term policies that provide businesses the certainty needed to transition to a clean energy economy.”  Here is the link: they wrote.

Former VP Al Gore, Obama Critic, Speaks to the Plan

As recently as a year ago, former Vice President Al Gore was publicly criticizing President Obama’s environmental record, characterizing his efforts as all talk and no action, despite Mr. Obama’s push to cut emissions from cars.

But Mr. Gore, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his advocacy of urgent measures to combat man-made climate change, praised the administration’s latest plan.

“Today’s announcement by the Obama administration to reduce our nation’s global warming pollution from power plants is the most important step taken to combat the climate crisis in the country’s history,” he said in statement.

Climate-Change Deniers Called Out
“As with the connection between tobacco and lung cancer, special interests have vehemently denied the linkage between carbon emissions and the climate crisis,” he said.

“These special interests now recognize that change is inevitable, but continue to trot out misleading and false claims to spread confusion and delay action for as long as they can,” he added. “However, it is now clear that further inaction would be extremely dangerous and destructive for America and the rest of the world.”

Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy

Justin Gillis in the NYT on June 24

At a time when the issue of climate change has divided the American political landscape, pitting Republicans against Democrats and even fellow party members against one another, the unusual bipartisan alliance of political veterans said that the country — and business leaders in particular — must wake up to the enormous scale of the economic risk.

“The big ice sheets are melting; something’s happening,” George P. Shultz, who was Treasury secretary under President Richard M. Nixon and secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. He noted that he had grown concerned enough about global warming to put solar panels on his own California roof and to buy an electric car. “I say we should take out an insurance policy.”

Paulson, Rubin, Also Sound Alarm
The former Treasury secretaries — including Henry M. Paulson Jr., a Republican who served under President George W. Bush, and Robert E. Rubin, a Democrat in the Clinton administration — promised to help sound the alarm. All endorse putting a price on greenhouse gases, most likely by taxing emissions.

“I actually do believe that we’re at a tipping point with the planet,” Mr. Paulson said in an interview at his home in Chicago. “A lot of things are going to happen that none of us are going to like to see.”

United States
National Climate Assessment Report
Read More
The National Climate Assessment summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Logo above)

Sample:  Some impacts that occur in one region ripple beyond that region. For example, the dramatic decline of summer sea ice in the Arctic – a loss of ice cover roughly equal to half the area of the continental United States – exacerbates global warming by reducing the reflectivity of Earth’s surface and increasing the amount of heat absorbed. Similarly, smoke from wildfires in one location can contribute to poor air quality in faraway regions, and evidence suggests that particulate matter can affect atmospheric properties and therefore weather patterns. Major storms and the higher storm surges exacerbated by sea level rise that hit the Gulf Coast affect the entire country through their cascading effects on oil and gas production and distribution.  
The New Environmentalism Will Lead Us To Disaster

So-called ecopragmatists say we can have a “good Anthropocene.” They’re dead wrong.- Clive Hamilton

Clive Hamilton is professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra. He is the author of Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering (Yale University Press, 2013) -

Holocene and Anthropocene
The early-Anthropocene hypothesis effectively dissolves the distinction between the Holocene, which started some 11,700 years ago and encompasses the beginning of agriculture, and the Anthropocene, enabling ecopragmatists to argue that there is nothing inherently preferable about a Holocene Earth—a moral claim that permits the conscious creation of a different kind of planet. Hence their attraction to geoengineering schemes aimed at regulating solar radiation or changing the chemical composition of the oceans. In the words of the most vocal eco-pragmatist, the environmental scientist Erle Ellis, “We will be proud of the planet we create.” Ellis speaks of “the good Anthropocene,” a golden era in which we relinquish nostalgic attachments to a nature untouched by humans and embrace the new epoch as “ripe with human-directed opportunity.”

Earth - System Thinking
But the idea of a good Anthropocene is based on a fundamental misreading of science. It arises from a failure to make the cognitive leap from ecological thinking—the science of the relationship between organisms and their local environments—to Earth system thinking, the science of the whole Earth as a complex system beyond the sum of its parts. The early Anthropocene hypothesis goes against strong evidence, provided by Crutzen, Will Steffen and other researchers, that only with the beginning of the industrial revolution can we detect a human influence on the functioning of the Earth system as a whole.

Human a "Force of Nature"
The revolutionary meaning of Earth-system science is lost on the ecopragmatists. In reality, the arrival of the new epoch represents not merely the further spread of human influence across the globe but a fundamental shift in the relationship between humans and the Earth system—one in which human activity now accelerates, decelerates and distorts the great cycles that make the planet a dynamic entity. The radical distinctiveness of the Anthropocene lies in the fact that humans have become a novel “force of nature”, one that is shaping the geological evolution of the planet. So far-reaching is the impact of modern humans that esteemed palaeoclimatologist Wally Broecker has suggested that we have not entered a new geological epoch, a relatively minor event on the geologic time scale, but a new era—the Anthropozoic—on a par in Earth history with the development of multicellular life.

Dangerous Wishful Thinking
Some climate science deniers believe only God can change the climate; ecopragmatists, by contrast, see humans as “the god species.” Here is what the god species and this kind of thinking are certain to give us: an atmosphere with 500 ppm of CO2 (probably closer to 700 ppm) and a climate that is hot, sticky and chaotic. It will indeed take omnipotence to fix the problem without calamity. For those who prefer orthodox climate science, such unbounded optimism is dangerous, wishful thinking.

- See more at:

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