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Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Volume 11 No. 7

August, 2018

Do You Sense New Urgency on Climate? 
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Dear Reader,
 
Summertime Northern Hemisphere. Welcome to the Summer 2018 issue of Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times.  The most recent issue was published in June.  There was no July number. Thank you for your patience. Today is August 24th in the USA and the recent heat wave in the New York area has dissipated. But more hot days are predicted here for next week.
 
Climate Action Summit. This letter looks first at public actions to draw attention to the climate issue.  The largest gathering will be the Global Climate Action Summit to take place in San Francisco from September 12-14 with leaders from around the globe showcasing progress made.  You can read some of the tougher reporting on climate progress or climate setbacks in the article on "hothouse Earth," from The Guardian summarizing extensive research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change. The US Academy of Sciences has released a report on "tipping points" in climate change which makes disturbing reading.  One example of this impact comes from Australia which is marking the horrific loss of large portions of the Great Barrier Reef. There is a link below to the Australia news.  New York hosts NYC Climate Week for the tenth year – September 24-29, 2018.

USA Courts. There are developments on the legal front.  Wins for clean water and a favorable ruling on the USA federal court case brought by children claiming their constitutional rights are violated by US government policies ignoring climate change.  On the other hand, several related cases brought by cities were dismissed by federal judges ruling that the executive and legislative branches should determine climate policy, not the courts. 

Fracking Ban. Some especially good news comes from Mexico planning to ban fracking and New Zealand planning to plant 100 million trees. Not all is lost.  Sadly, Maxima Acuna of Peru is still under siege on her own property for refusing to sell her land to the mining company that has claimed the region for an open pit gold mining operation.

Creation Care. Please recall that Pope Francis in Rome and Patriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church have committed to pray for the care of all creation most especially in the Season of Creation from September 1 through October 4.   September 1 is the day that both churches observe as set aside for the Day of Creation Care.  October 4 is the traditional Feast of St. Francis, Patron of the Environment in the Catholic tradition.  I hope there will be opportunities wherever you live to participate in some observance of this time.

Thomas Berry has wisdom as usual to ponder at the conclusion of each edition of Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times.   I trust you will be encouraged as always by his message.

Let me hear from you if you have ideas for improving the Carbon Rangers.
Email: kcawley1@mac.com


Cordially,
Br. Kevin

Edmund Rice International  
http://edmundriceinternational.org/jpic/

Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona
http://www.iona.edu/About/Iona-in-Community/The-Thomas-Berry-Forum-for-Ecological-Dialogue.aspx

 World Waking Up to Climate Change
The Guardian. July 19, 2018   Jonathan Watts 
The scorching temperatures and forest fires of this summer’s heatwave have finally stirred the world to face the onrushing threat of global warming, claims the climate scientist behind the recent “hothouse Earth” report.   Following an unprecedented 270,000 downloads of his study, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, said he had not seen such a surge of interest since 2007, the year the Nobel prize was awarded to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
 
New temperature records have been set in Africa and cities in Australia, Taiwan, Georgia and the west coast of US. Heat stroke or forest fires have killed at least 119 in Japan, 29 in South Korea, 91 in Greece and nine in California. There have even been freak blazes in Lapland and elsewhere in the Arctic circle, while holidaymakers and locals alike have sweltered in unusually hot weather in southern Europe.  Read More .


The Paris Agreement’s Next Act, Now in San Francisco
August 14, 2018 Nicole Greenfield  and Bobby Bruderle for Natural Resources Defense Council
 
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is working to help make the Global Climate Action Summit a success by inspiring more ambitious commitments to the historic 2015 agreement and enhanced pollution-slashing initiatives.
 
About a month before the Paris climate summit, Christiana Figueres, then United Nations climate chief, found herself at a crossroads. “A decision must be made,” she wrote in an op-ed in the Guardian, “when we have understood that the consequences of the past need us to intentionally and decisively redefine the future.” She then declared, in no uncertain terms, that the world was ready for change. If the pact signed by 195 countries in December 2015 is any indication, Figueres was right. World leaders’ mutual commitment to hold global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius was a momentous demonstration of international cooperation fueled by the energy of cities, states, businesses, and citizens, all ready to turn the page.
 
Though America’s federal government has since abandoned its pledge and instead pushed a starkly anti-environment agenda, the global momentum on climate action has not slowed. And now, as we stand more than halfway between the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 and the next scheduled step for countries to bolster their commitments, set for 2020, many leaders are upping the ante. At the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit, taking place September 12–14 in San Francisco, representatives from both within and outside the United States will aim to recapture and accelerate some of that decisive spirit cultivated in Paris and encourage one another to take more ambitious action, sooner than planned. 
 
“The main show of the summit,” explains NRDC’s International Policy Manager Brendan Guy, “will be leaders at all levels showcasing the progress they’ve made in the last few years since the Paris Agreement and committing to new actions to move the needle even further.”
Read More.


Climate Defenders Mobilizing for 3rd People’s Climate March
By Alison Cagle
 
Call it the "People's Climate March, Part III." On Saturday, Sept. 8, thousands of people are expected to converge on the streets of San Francisco to demand that government leaders commit to ending all new fossil fuel projects and accelerating the move toward renewable energy. The march is part of a global campaign calling for environmental justice and a "just transition" to renewable energy that protects workers and frontline communities. Satellite events will happen across the U.S. and around the world, including Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, among other places.
Read More.     


Seventy Thousand+  Hospitalized in Japan Heat Wave
August 7. An ongoing heatwave has sent a record 71,266 people to hospitals across Japan between April 30 and Aug. 5 with 138 people dying from heat-related illnesses, The Japan Times reported, citing the nation's Fire and Disaster Management Agency. 


 
USA:  Mendocino Fire Largest in California History
 
California's disastrous wildfire season has surpassed last year's historically destructive season in at least one respect.  The Mendocino Complex Fire nearly doubled over the first weekend in August, taking the title of largest in California's history from last year's Thomas FireCNN reported Tuesday. "It's not stopping," Red Cross disaster services worker Renato Lira told The Guardian. "People thought this year was going to be a break."
 
The Mendocino Complex Fire has burned 283,800 acres and 75 residencies so far. It was 30 percent contained as of Monday evening, CNN reported.  It was formed by two fires, the Ranch and River Fires, in the Northern California area around Clear Lake. CalFire spokesperson Tricia Austin told The Guardian that the area was especially fire prone because of its mix of few houses and small towns scattered between large swaths of dry vegetation, from pines to oaks to grassland.


Misleading Headline: Guess which country had the largest overall reduction in carbon emissions in 2017? 
 
In an interview with Fox News, USA Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt claimed: "We are leading the nation — excuse me — the world with respect to our CO2 footprint in reductions."  The Washington Post fact-checked this claim and rated it "Three Pinocchios," which means they rate the claim mostly false. They further wrote that Pruitt's usage of data appeared to be a "deliberate effort to mislead the public."
 
According to World Bank data, U.S. per capita carbon dioxide emissions rank 11th among countries. So, we are not the largest per capita emitter, but we do emit 2.2 times as much on a per capita basis as China. But, China has 4.3 times as many people, and that matters from an overall emissions perspective. China's lower per capita carbon dioxide emissions are more than offset by its greater population, so China emits over 70% more carbon dioxide annually than the U.S.
 
While the U.S. had the highest overall decline in carbon dioxide emissions, we didn't have the largest percentage decline. Many European countries experienced declines of 20% to over 30%. At the same time, China's carbon dioxide emissions increased by 50%, and India's increased by 88%.
 
One item left unsaid was the reason U.S. emissions have declined. It is no coincidence that U.S. emissions started to decline in 2005. That was the year U.S. shale gas production began a decade-long growth spurt.  Renewables also contributed, but the vast majority of the emissions decline in the U.S. can be attributed directly to natural gas substituting for coal in the power sector. (See Don't Blame Renewable Energy For Dying U.S. Coal Industry for a deeper dive on this topic) 

Alarming New Report on "Tipping Points" by the US Academy of Sciences
from Donald Brown, Widener University
 
On July 31, 2018, a paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which should create a shiver of fear in all humans everywhere. The paper, Trajectories in the Earth System in the Anthropocene by Steffen et.al., explains how human-induced warming is rapidly approaching levels that may trigger positive climate feedbacks which could greatly accelerate the warming already plaguing the world by causing record floods, deadly heat waves and droughts, increasing tropical diseases, forest fires, more intense and damaging storms, sea level rise, coral bleaching, acidification of oceans, all of which are contributing to increasing the number of refugees which are destabilizing governments around the world. Read More .

Australia Coral Loss May Eliminate Support for One Quarter of Sea Life
Great Barrier Reef Breaking Down 
 

USA Courts:  Wins and Losses
 

Win for Clean Water: Court Reinstates Obama WOTUS Rule for 26 States  
A federal judge invalidated the Trump 
administration's suspension of the Clean Water Rule, effectively reinstating the Obama-era regulation in 26 states.

The 2015 rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS) defines which waters can be protected from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. It protects large water bodies such as lakes and rivers, as well as small streams and wetlands.

But last year, President Trump declared WOTUS "a horrible, horrible rule" and tasked then-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt to replace it. In February, Pruitt issued a "Suspension Rule" that delayed WOTUS until 2020 in order to craft a looser and more industry-friendly rule.

On Thursday, South Carolina District Judge David Norton sided with a coalition of conservation groups that challenged the delay, and placed a nationwide injunction on Pruitt's suspension rule. The decision does not apply to 24 other states where legal challenges are pending.
 
 USA Supreme Court Rules Trump Administration Can’t Stop Youth Climate Case
In a glimmer of hope for climate change litigation, the Supreme Court  on July 31st, ruled against the Trump administration's attempt to block a ground-breaking lawsuit brought by 21 young people against the U.S. government for crafting policies that support climate-changing fossil fuelsThe Huffington Post reported.  The administration argued that the trial judge who had permitted the case to proceed had acknowledged "a never-before-recognized fundamental right to a particular climate system that lacks any support in the Constitution, this court's precedents, or this nation's history and tradition," Bloomberg reported.   
The young people's lawyers, in contrast, say the changes to the climate violate rights that are enshrined in the Constitution, since those changes "threaten the very foundation of life, including the personal security, liberties, and property."

NYC Loses to Big Oil as Judge Dismisses Climate Liability Suit
 
A federal judge ruled  in favor of a motion by five big oil companies to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by New York City, which demanded they pay the costs of adapting the city's infrastructure to climate changeThe New York Times reported on July 19.
The ruling comes nearly a month after a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a similar case brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco. In his decision Thursday, Judge John F. Keenan of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York echoed the reasoning of Federal Judge William Alsup when he dismissed the San Francisco and Oakland case.
 
While both judges acknowledged the reality of climate change, they thought that crafting policy around it was too large an issue for the courts to settle. "Global warming and solutions thereto must be addressed by the two other branches of government," Keenan wrote in his decision.  But environmentalists pointed out that fossil fuel companies like the defendants had done everything in their power to stop the other branches of government from acting.
 
"There is a grave irony here. The fossil fuel company defendants claimed in court—and the judge apparently agreed—that it is entirely up to Congress and the President to address climate change. But these same defendants and their trade groups have fought successfully against even modest laws and regulations to cut the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels that causes global warming," Union of Concerned Scientists President Ken Kimmel said in a statement reported by Climate Liability News.   Like San Francisco, New York City spokesperson Seth Stein said the city would appeal the decision.


 
Update: Maxima Acuna
 Goldman Prize Winner 2016 and Human Rights Defender

On 3 May 2017, the Supreme Court of Peru acquitted human rights defender, Maxima Acuna de Chaupe, who had been charged with illegally occupying land.  As of August 2018, Maxima and her family are still in danger and must pass through government checkpoints to move on and off their property.  Most of the neighbors have sold their own farms to the mining company that is laying claim to the area for an open pit gold mine.
 
About Maxima Acuna de Chaupe
 Maxima Acuna de Chaupe.  Maxima Acuna de Chaupe is a member of the Asociacion de Mujeres en Defensa de la Vida (Association of Women in Defence of Livelihood) and of the Union Latinoamericana de Mujeres - ULAM (Latin American Women's Union). The human rights defender has lived on her land in Tragadero Grande, Sorochuco, Cajamarca for 24 years. Read More.


Good News You May Have Missed
 
Newly Elected President of Mexico to Ban Fracking
Mexico's president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he will end the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, once he enters office on Dec. 1.   "We will no longer use that method to extract petroleum," the populist politician said Tuesday at a press conference, as quoted by the Associated Press. This is a setback for the energy industry that has eyed Mexico's shale-rich Burgos Basin in the north, DeSmog reported. It was only less than a year ago when Mexico's national energy ministry opened the onshore portion of the Burgos Basin for natural gas exploration and development by private companies.
The horizontal drilling technique is used to unlock oil and natural gas deposits from shale beds. Fracking has significantly ramped up natural gas extraction and has aided local economies, but opponents say that fracking pollutes the air and groundwater, among other environmental and public health concerns. The technique has been banned in many U.S. municipalities and countries around the world.
The "plan to ban fracking in Mexico represents the latest common-sense decision by a world leader to prohibit this inherently toxic, polluting practice," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter told DeSmog.
 
Adidas is expecting to sell 5 million pairs of shoes made from ocean plastic this year, and it has committed to using only recycled plastic in its products by 2024. CNN
 
Sweden is on course to reach its renewable energy targets 12 years ahead of schedule, with wind turbines making its original 2030 goal achievable in 2018. The Local
 
New Zealand aims to go green with electricity, tree planting
Nick Perry, Associated Press Oct. 24, 2017-- New Zealand's incoming government is hoping to make the nation greener by planting 100 million trees each year, ensuring the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy, and spending more money on cycle ways and rail transport.
 
Jacinda Ardern, who took  over as prime minister this past fall,  outlined agreements her Labour Party reached with other political parties joining them in the new government. In addition to the environmental initiatives, Ardern also outlined plans to raise the minimum wage, stop foreigners from buying existing homes, and possibly change how New Zealand's Reserve Bank operates.
 
The 37-year-old is New Zealand's youngest leader in more than 150 years and hopes to take the country on a more liberal path following nine years of rule by the conservative National Party.  "I don't need to be influenced on climate change," she said. "It will sit at the heart of what this government does." Read More. 


Season of Creation - September 2018
The Season of Creation is an opportunity to worship the Creator and protect the good gift of creation. From mountain villages in Peru to bustling downtown streets in the Philippines, Christians of all denominations are uniting to pray and act for our common home.
The Season of Creation begins on September 1, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology in many traditions.
There is an urgent need to find solutions to the crisis facing our common home. Together, we are fulfilling our role as stewards of God’s creation.
 


Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home   

Laudato Si
23. The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a
complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific
consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In. recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.
 
1914-2009
Message from Thomas Berry

"Perhaps the most valuable heritage we can provide for future generations is some sense of the Great Work that is before them of moving the human project from its devastating exploitation to a benign presence. We need to give them some indication of how the next generation can fulfill this work in an effective manner." (Thomas Berry, "The Great Work," in The Great Work, 7).
Copyright © 2018 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.


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