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Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Vol. 12  No. 6
October 2019
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Youth and Climate Crisis: How to Respond ?

Dear Reader,
UN Climate Summit. Our previous edition in late summer led with stories about the arrival in New York harbor of Greta Thunberg, the 16 yr. old Swedish climate activist.  She had made the ocean crossing from England on a carbon free sailboat. Sailing instead of flying  signaled her concern that air travel carbon emissions worsen global warming. Much has happened since.  The United Nations General Assembly met in September.  Greta addressed the General Assembly.  Her words challenged everyone but her tone was especially passionate and drew stark outlines for the consequences of continuing to do nothing about the climate problem.  World leaders assembled in the hall responded with polite applause but a larger number of critics have now surfaced to push back against Greta and her message and her celebrity status.  Sadly, there are threats against her person now, not just her ideas.  She hopes to make her way eventually to Chile in December to take part in the next meeting of the next  UN  conference on Climate Change, the COP25 in Santiago. Here is a Link.

School Strike for Climate. From time to time the climate discussion takes a turn toward climate action. We saw that with the massive global street demonstrations on September 20.  Millions around the planet put themselves in public settings to sound again their alarm and concern that our leaders are not doing enough to respond to the very harsh truths that science is repeating with each new set of findings.  Our predicament does not improve with the passage of time.  The physics keeps working away.   We do not lack for science showing us what is happening, nor for brave volunteers who put themselves in harm’s way to make the dramatic gesture, nor do we lack faith leaders who make clear the moral implications of not acting.  We must rise together and become "better ancestors".

IPCC Report. I have put some items in this issue that give the picture from the wide lens of the United Nations. You can find a summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of last October.  Those scientists describe the problems for policy makers to address.  Pope Francis sent a message of encouragement to the delegates at the UN Climate Summit of September 23. His encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, has gained traction as a powerful teaching instrument.   Some governments have taken the lead on climate change and made significant commitments to reduce carbon emissions.  Costa Rica was awarded the highest UN environmental honor: “Champion of the Earth”.  They have put in place a plan to decarbonize their entire economy by 2050.

Marching and Extinction. I joined the NYC School Strike for climate in September with students and colleagues from Iona College.  Some photographs of youthful marchers are included below as reminders that this problem will have its sharpest impact on those who are still very young right now. Other news notes show  many of those made poor have been forced to flee their homes in less developed parts of the world.  Climate changes impact millions more as droughts worsen even as more rain falls in some places and dangerous flooding follows.  Global fish stocks have fallen, North America has discovered the loss of 3 billion birds since 1970 due to a variety of causes, not the least of which is loss of habitat that is sending the ecosystem into disarray. Yes, three billion.
Encouragement. You will find encouraging news from India, Latin America and China. And we know  more and more citizens now know we can all do something, even if it is simply living more simply ourselves.

Br. Kevin

Additional resources include  the Thomas Berry Forum at Iona College: 

More general information is available at Edmund Rice International: . 

 At the United Nations Summit on Climate Small Countries Made Big Commitments 
(IISD Reporting)
Large Polluters Hold Back. In the chambers of the General Assembly, the world’s top polluters - China, India, and the United States -made no major commitments to slash investments in fossil fuels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Instead, the most aggressive and ambitious commitments came from small
countries, especially coastal and island states most vulnerable to the climate crisis. And those small countries are not happy to be doing the heavy lifting. There’s a lot of frustration in this climate change community between the countries that have developed and have polluted and the countries that have not developed and are now an important part of the solution, said Lee White, the minister for forests, sea, and the environment from Gabon.
Summary of the Report of the 51st Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change September 2019
Here is a brief look at the United Nations Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC).  The SROCC assesses the latest scientific knowledge about the physical science basis for, and impacts of, climate change on ocean, coastal, polar, and mountain ecosystems, and the human communities that depend on them.
The ocean and the cryosphere -the frozen parts of the planet -play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers
and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.
The report has some alarming messages. The global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system.  
While sea level rise is currently rising more than twice as fast now as during the 20th century and accelerating, the report notes a projected rise by 30-60 cm more (60 centimetres is almost 2 feet) by 2100 even if emissions significantly decrease and temperature rise is limited to below 2C. Link is to factsheet is  here.

Pope Francis Message to UN Climate Action Summit  
Opportunity and Duty. In a video message sent on Sept. 23 to participants at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York, Pope Francis called climate change “one of the most serious and worrying phenomena of our time.” The pope said that the nations of the world have a duty to fight against climate change, adding that despite a weak response so far, a “window of opportunity is still open.”

Still Time?  “We are still in time. Let us not let it close. Let us open it with our determination to cultivate integral human development, to ensure a better life for future generations. It is their future, not ours,” the pope said. 

Common Good. “It is necessary,” he said, “to ask whether there is a real political will to allocate greater human, financial and technological resources to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and to help the poorest and most vulnerable populations, who suffer the most.”  The climate crisis is not just an environmental issue, Pope Francis said, but a “challenge of civilization in favor of the common good.” Climate change, he added, is “related to issues of ethics, equity and social justice” and connected to an evident human, ethical and social degradation, which “forces us to think about the meaning of our models of consumption and production.”  The climate crisis is not just an environmental issue, he said, but a “challenge of civilization in favor of the common good.”

Note on UN Climate Summit - Greta's Address to the General  Assembly 
 In her speech, a tearful, and sometimes trembling, Thunberg accused world leaders of stealing her dreams and her childhood with their inaction on climate  change — a cause she has championed and turned into a global movement through the Fridays for Future school strikes she launched. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean,” said the 16-year-old from Sweden. “Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”  (Courtesy NBC News)

Most Vulnerable Nations. Perhaps the most moving presentation – apart from Thunberg – was that by the Marshall Islands, one of the countries most likely to suffer from the climate emergency, who’s President described it as “representative of the most climate-vulnerable people on earth. Business – turns from bad to “good” fairy . This time around business is showing that it is a full-time actor – and perhaps will make a full-time take-over of the UN. Each of the sessions – except the last one on Small Island Developing States – had a presentation from a business CEO, financial institution, or philanthrocapitalist (billionaires who have turned over a new leaf). It was edifying to see how positive they all were about the changes they were planning to bring about. Almost as if, having finally made it to ‘the good side’, they wanted to prove how well they were behaving and collect their gold stars.

The Chairman of Danone spoke on working to build a 1% coalition of food and agri-based businesses around the world, which are committed to putting nature-based solutions at the heart of their businesses. Bill Gates, who is now co-chair of the Global Commission of Adaptation described how the Commission will focus on scaling up support to farmers, with services such as digital advisory services, farmer finance, and implementing policies that incentivise resilience. Strangely there was an emphasis on how big the returns could be on investment – almost as if this were a company presentation.

“You are on Holy Ground. Act Like It.”

School Strike for Climate NYC
. Approximately 200,000 participants joined the march on Friday, September 20th in New York City.  Greta Thunberg and fellow climate activists led the march from  Foley Square, a large plaza in lower Manhattan.  Marchers made their way approximately 2 miles to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan island where music and speeches concluded the day.  Greta thanked marchers as she concluded the day with her challenge that all must keep battling.  Her speech the following Monday to the General Assembly has become a sensation on the internet for her bold, emotional and scathing denunciation of the “business as usual” approach that appears to be the default position of most larger member states at the United Nations.
Sampling of some signs from climate march:
“People who care don’t matter. People who matter don’t care.”  And these from other reporters:  “Act now before the show is over”; “We’re not red or blue, we’re green”; some pop-culturally on target “Winter is not coming”; some wry “Don’t be a Fossil Fool”; some politically of the moment “Real science, Fake president,” “Less AC, More AOC”, “If we can save the banks, we can save the world,” “We can’t eat money, we can’t drink oil”; some wise “The climate is changing, why aren’t we?”; some culturally sly “#MeToo, said Mother Earth”; or clever indeed “This sign is reusable, STOP AND THINK”. And from faith groups: “You are on Holy Ground. Act Like It.”
What The Climate Petition Filed By 16 Kids At The U.N. Really Means By Zoya Teirstein in Grist Image: Betancur (Getty) 
On Monday,  September 16, a group of 16 kids, including climate maven Greta Thunberg, filed a petition against five nations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Earthjustice, the environmental law organization representing the kids, claims that the petition is groundbreaking. Some media outlets have called the move a landmark and potentially world-changing complaint, and its widely been referred to as a lawsuit. The petition is certainly an impressive step, but it is neither groundbreaking nor a lawsuit. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international human rights treaty adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1989. The 196 countries that ratified it (including every member of the U.N. except the U.S.) are bound by international law to uphold the contents of the convention  though, as we all know, the U.N. speaks softly and carries a small stick. The treaty establishes a set of 12 protection measures aimed at ensuring the health, happiness, and safety of humans 18 years of age and under.  

Rights Violated By Failure to Act on Climate. The 16 kids who brought the petition to the U.N. this week are arguing that their rights as laid out under the treaty are being violated by world governments that aren't doing enough to combat climate change. In other words, rising temperatures are undermining the Rights of the Child. The subjects of the complaint? Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey. The kids don't want financial restitution; they want the countries to take concrete action to stop climate change.  To be fair, the petition is unique in at least one way: This is the  first time a complaint has been brought before the United Nations on the subject of climate change under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But it's not the first legal complaint of its type. Climate activists around the world, including one of the kids involved in this case, have taken human-rights-related legal action against their respective home countries before. In the USA, the cause is now in the courts as  "Juliana vs. US" .  Read More.

Climate Migrants Projected to Increase Says World Bank.
Over 17 million climate migrants, defined as those displaced due to distress from climate change (i.e. crop failure, water stress, sea level rise), left their homes permanently in 2018. They differ from political refugees in that their movement is primarily internal to their own nation, not necessarily forced, and can have a slow onset.

This number will soon skyrocket by eightfold. The World Bank projects that 143 million people will be displaced from just three regions (Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia) by 2050. Tragically, the poor — especially children and women — are much more vulnerable to environmental degradation. They have less capacity than those who are wealthier to respond when it is too hot, too dry, or too wet to remain in their homelands.

Champion of the Earth, the UN’s Highest Environmental Honor: 
This year’s champion? Costa Rica.

The Central American country has a plan in place to decarbonize its economy by 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN’s’ Sustainable Development Goals. Costa Rica’s energy is already more than 95% renewable. In 2017, the country ran for a record 300 days solely on renewable power, and the goal is to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
Forests Being Restored. That’s not all: Thanks to an aggressive push to reverse decades of deforestation, more than 50% of the trees have been restored. Those trees are a key element of Costa Rica’s plan to soak up any lingering carbon emissions. Seventy percent of all buses and taxis are expected to be electric by 2030, with full electrification projected for 2050. It’s all part of the country’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, including reforms to transportation, energy, waste, and land use to help the country make sure it releases no more carbon emissions than it can offset.


Brazil to Permit Further Mining on Dinamam Truxa Indigenous Rep at UN from BrasilIndigenous Land.
The Brazilian government is planning to present a bill that permits mining on indigenous land. In a speech last week at the U.N., Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has welcomed the idea of opening up indigenous reserves to mining, logging, and farming, argued that his policies are meant to secure the well-being of all Brazilians.  Dinamam Tuxa,  Brazil Indigenous Leader (in photo above),  led a group of Indigenous at the UN Climate Summit objecting to the policies of President Bolsanaro. 

Three Billion Birds Vanish in North America
By Elizabeth Pennisi 

Shocking Losses. North America's birds are disappearing from the skies at a rate that's shocking even to ornithologists. Since the 1970s, the continent has lost 3 billion birds, nearly 30% of the total, and even common birds such as sparrows and blackbirds are in decline, U.S. and Canadian researchers report this week online in Science. "It's staggering," says first author Ken Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. The findings raise fears that some familiar species could go the way of the passenger pigeon, a species once so abundant that its extinction in the early 1900s seemed unthinkable. The results, from the most comprehensive inventory ever done of North American birds, point to ecosystems in disarray because of habitat loss and other factors that have yet to be pinned down, researchers say. Yet ecologist Paul Ehrlich at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who has been warning about shrinking plant and animal populations for decades, sees some hope in this new jolt of bad news: "It might stir needed action in light of the public interest in our feathered friends."  Read More.

Oceans Running Out of Fish
The sea is running out of fish, despite nations pledges to stop it Major countries that are promising to curtail funding for fisheries are nevertheless increasing handouts for their seafood industries.  (Photo:  Todd Woody In National Geographic)

Government Subsidies A Problem. As global fish stocks that feed hundreds of millions of people dwindle, nations are scrambling to finalize by years end an international agreement to ban government subsidies that fuel overfishing. Yet as negotiations at the World Trade Organization resume  in Geneva, Switzerland, new research shows that governments have actually increased financial support for fishing practices that decimate marine life, despite public pledges to curtail such handouts. In an exhaustive survey of 152 countries, scientists at the University of British Columbia found that ocean-faring nations spent $22 billion on harmful subsidies in 2018, or 63 percent of the total amount expended to support the global fishing industry. Thats a 6 percent rise since 2009.

Some Fuel Subsidies Encourage Overfishing. Harmful subsidies is a term that refers to those that promote overfishing and illegal fishing that would otherwise not be profitable, such as subsidies that underwrite fuel costs allowing industrial trawlers to sail to the farthest reaches of the planet. Fuel subsidies alone accounted for 22 percent of all fishing subsidies last year. 

Ethiopia Chronic Drought  Linked to Climate Change
by  Maria Gerth-Niculescu (DW)
Rains Have Failed. Communities in Ethiopia′s Somali Region face chronic drought linked to climate change This year the 'belg' rainy season once again failed to bring much needed relief to the drought-striken region pastoral communities say.  Three times a day, Sara Saban walks under the burning sun to fetch water for her family (photo left). Close to her village in the center of Ethiopia's Somali Region, women, children and men line up in front of the only available well within walking distance. Their donkeys patiently wait as they fill their yellow jerry cans with water. A few meters away, others dig a hole in the dried-out riverbed to collect what little murky water they can find. "The underground water is very limited because we are facing a drought," Sara, a mother of ten, told DW. "The water quality is also very bad, so sometimes we suffer from stomach-related illnesses." 

Livestock dwindling. The Somali Region has suffered from chronic drought for several years, with the worst stretch recorded in 2016, from which many households have yet to recover. This year the short rainy season known as the 'belg', which typically lasts from March to May, once again failed to provide much-anticipated ground water. The livestock have already started to die. Read More
Some Good News: Highest Indian Monsoon Rains In 25 Years To Boost Winter Crops - Rajendra Jadhav (Reuters) . 
 Monsoon rains in India were 10% above average in 2019
and the highest in 25 years as seasonal rainfall continued longer than expected, the weather department said.  Extra June-September monsoon rainfall will help farmers expand areas under winter-sown crops such as wheat, rice rapeseed and chick peas, improving their earning potential and helping revive tepid rural demand that has stung Indian economic growth. The longer monsoon could also restock reservoirs and help replenish ground water, helping assuage water shortages in pockets of the country of 1.3 billion people.
Monsoon Brings 70% of Annual Rain. But heavy rainfall in some areas has damaged summer-sown crops like cotton, soybean and pulses that are close to harvest.  The monsoon delivers about 70% of India's annual rainfall and determines the yield of rice, wheat, sugarcane and oilseeds, such as soybeans.  
The monsoon generally begins in June and starts to retreat by Sept. 1, but rains have lasted longer this year, triggering fatal floods and killing hundreds of people. The weather department had also said in May that rains this year would. amount to 96% of the long-term average.

Good News You Probably Didn't Hear About 

Australia's per capita levels of clean energy are the fastest growing in the world. Between 2018 and 2020, Australia will install 220 watts per person per year - nearly three times more than the next fastest country, Germany. The Conversation

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced a massive new commitment to fight climate change called The Climate Pledge. He says Amazon will work to drastically reduce its carbon emissions with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040 — all part of an effort to avert some of the most catastrophic effects of climate change.The largest retail company in the world says it will run entirely on renewable energy by 2030 and will be fully carbon neutral by 2040. The Verge

Nine Latin American countries just set a collective target of 70% renewable energy use by 2030, more than double what the European Union is planning. Reuters

China's tree stock rose by 4.56 billion m³ between 2005 and 2018, deserts are shrinking by 2,400 km² a year, and forests now account for 22% of land area. SCMP

Reports on the loss of fish stocks and the precipitous decline of 3 billion birds from the North American continent in less than 5o years are harbingers of larger extinction threats.  The news  brings to mind these words of Thomas Berry:

Every being has its own interior, its self, its mystery, its numinous aspect. To deprive any being of this sacred quality is to disrupt the total order of the universe. Reverence will be total or it will not be at all. 

-Thomas Berry

Copyright © 2019 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.

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