Copenhagen Day 7 – The Earth Needs Our Prayers

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Copenhagen and around the world this weekend, holding signs that read “There Is No Planet B”, “The World Wants A Real Deal” and “Bla Bla Bla Act Now”,  sending leaders a message that people want a real, binding, and enforceable agreement on climate change. Grown men cried in the UN meetings, pleading for a deal that would save their island nations. The World Council of Churches is calling on churches around the globe to ring the alarm on climate change by ringing their bells  350 times at 3:00 pm local time. As today is Sunday, a day traditionally set aside in North America for spiritual reflection and renewal, I thought it would be appropriate to repost Brian McLaren and Tim Costello‘s Prayer for the Earth.

A Prayer for the Earth

Most gracious God, creator of all good things, we thank you for planet Earth and all creatures that share it.

Have mercy on us, Lord. Through ignorance and carelessness we have poisoned clean air and pure water. For monetary gain we have reduced verdant forests to barren wastes. In our craving for more we have plundered your beloved creation and driven many of our fellow creatures to extinction. Only recently have we begun to realize the dangerous future into which our current patterns of consumption and waste are driving us, especially in relation to Earth’s climate. Only recently have we begun to see our need to find a wiser and better way of life in the future, before it is too late and our choices are limited by the consequences of inaction.

We who join in prayer today believe the time has come, Lord. Please guide us now, our God, at this critical moment in history, to better fulfill our role as stewards of this fragile planet. Guide the leaders of nations who will gather in Copenhagen on Dec. 7. Give them courage to set noble goals that reach beyond short-range political expediency, short-term economic profit, and short-sighted self-interest. Impress upon their conscience our sacred duty to bequeath to our children and grandchildren a healthy and thriving environment rather than a world in climate crisis.

The World Wants A Real Deal Candlelight Vigil

Read moreCopenhagen Day 7 – The Earth Needs Our Prayers

Voices From The Brink – Copenhagen Day 6

Day 6 of the UN Climate Change talks in Copenhagen. Here are some voices that are trying to be heard as humanity stands on the precipice of global disaster:

Antonio Lima, of Cape Verde, the vice chair of Alliance of Small Island Nations (AOSIS), said climate change was a looming disaster for the poor — like the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius 2,000 years ago that buried the Roman city of Pompeii. He said

They did not know what they were facing. Now we know what is going to happen. It will be the planet Pompeii.”

Former Canadian Olympic skiier Thomas Grandi delivered a letter from 20 Olympic athletes to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s constituency office in Calgary this week. Grandi stated:

Clearly we have seen changes and there’s been a few seasons in the last decade where the whole schedule has been up in the air because there hasn’t been snow where traditionally there has been snow.”

In their letter to the Prime Minister, the athletes warned that outdoor sports such as skiing and snowboarding, which are part of Canada’s winter heritage, are being threatened.

Author, activist, and co-founder of 350.org Bill McKibben wrote in “The Physics of Copenhagen: Why Politics-As-Usual May Mean the End of Civilization”:

When it comes to global warming, however, this is precisely why we’re headed off a cliff, why the Copenhagen talks that open this week, almost no matter what happens, will be a disaster. Because climate change is not like any other issue we’ve ever dealt with. Because the adversary here is not Republicans, or socialists, or deficits, or taxes, or misogyny, or racism, or any of the problems we normally face—adversaries that can change over time, or be worn down, or disproved, or cast off. The adversary here is physics.

McKibbon goes on to say:

And here’s the thing: physics doesn’t just impose a bottom line, it imposes a time limit. This is like no other challenge we face because every year we don’t deal with it, it gets much, much worse, and then, at a certain point, it becomes insoluble—because, for instance, thawing permafrost in the Arctic releases so much methane into the atmosphere that we’re never able to get back into the safe zone.

Click here to read the whole column at Grist.org.

This is the Weekend of Action for a Real Deal – go to 350.org and find a vigil near you. Join this weekend’s global actions and candelight vigils.

Musings from a Mom on Climate Change

Day 4 into the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, and my initial caption for my posting today was going to be “Living in the Age of Stupid”.  But as I began to write, I remembered that this is the Weekend of Action for a Real Deal around the globe.  Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and grandparents around the world will be gathering en masse to send our leaders a message that the world needs real, binding, and ambitious agreement.  While there are incredibly diverse ways of being human, we have this in common. We are all someone’s son or daughter.  Many of us also have children of our own. My daughters are why I can’t give in to pessimism and hopelessness.  They are worth fighting for.

Recently, I’ve heard skeptics argue that  “fear mongering” regarding the dire planetary emergency we are in should set off warning bells. Fear = untruth seems to be their argument. As a parent, I know when fear is a healthy thing to employ. When my daughters were younger, if one of them went too near a hot stove, I didn’t stand back and point out to her that 1% of people who have touched a hot stove believe that it isn’t harmful. If one of them went near the edge of a precipitous cliff, I didn’t stand back and engage her in debate about the odds of surviving a fall.

California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger explained it like this:

If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say ‘No, he doesn’t, he is fine,’ I will go with the 98. It’s common sense—the same with climate change. We go with the majority, the large majority.”

"I'm with Stupid" Snowmen

Climate Change Deniers Risk Catastrophe

This guest posting was submitted to a local newspaper recently in response to an opinion piece entitled “Why Dismiss Dissent” by right-wing ideologue Peter Worthington.  While the said newspaper declined to publish it, I am happy to give it space here:

In this article, Mr. Worthington parrots the usual climate change-denying arguments and pseudo-science: Humans are too insignificant to cause climate change; carbon dioxide is our friend; climate change is a conspiracy by poor countries to dupe rich countries into giving them money; etc. What Mr. Worthington fails to do is address any of the vast body of research which shows convincingly that the earth is warming quickly and beyond normal variations. He also entirely fails to mention that virtually all reputable climate scientists from around the world and across numerous scientific disciplines agree that global warming is real and threatens humanity’s future, that it is caused by human activity and industry, and that the need to change this constitutes an emergency. While there are still some details of global warming which spark debate between serious scientists (i.e.those scientists who use their skills to look for the truth and not to promote an agenda), the basic facts have been settled. Moreover, despite Mr. Worthington’s claims, there is really no believable way in which all these diverse scientists from around the world could be conspiring to deceive the world into accepting global warming as real when it is not. And what would be the point? They don’t stand to gain anything and would actually stand to lose a great deal by lying. On the other hand, most prominent climate change deniers have either demonstrable links to organizations whom the status quo benefits (oil and coal producers, etc.) or, as with Mr. Worthington, to right-wing lobby groups who are funded by these organizations. One has to ask which group is more likely to be trying to deceive the public.

The situation is this: We are all on the Titanic speeding through the North Atlantic night. Someone has just spotted what looks like a very large iceberg dead ahead and we are bearing down on it fast. The crew begins rushing to avoid the collision but the ship owner shows up and begins shouting that we should all stop and discuss this first. Maybe the iceberg is smaller than it looks, or further away. Maybe the ship could survive the impact. Maybe the ship can turn faster than we think. Maybe turning sharply will cause some passengers to fall out of bed andsue the ship owner. We should probably just wait and see what happens.

Does this approach make ANY sense?

Mr. Worthington, given the relatively small long-term cost of changing our
greenhouse gas-emitting ways and the absolute catastrophe which awaits humanity if
scientists are right about climate change, isn’t your recommendation for continued
inaction kind of irresponsible?

Don’t Tell Us It Can’t Be Done

Check out this video – part of the “Don’t Tell Us It Can’t Be Done” Earthkeepers campaign. Earthkeepers was started by the Timberland company, which manufactures outdoor boots, shoes and gear.  The Earthkeepers website states:

We at Timberland started Earthkeepers because we love the outdoors. Making outdoor boots, shoes and gear is what we do for a living. No more outdoors means no more living. For us—or anyone else. Of course, we realize that by making our products, we’re part of the problem. We believe it’s time for companies, like ours, to take a look at how the way they do business affects the environment and do something about it.

The campaign encourages people to get involved by signing an online petition urging leaders to take action in Copenhagen by setting emissions targets. Earthkeeper wants citizens of the world to tell those world leaders, “Don’t Tell Us It Can’t Be Done” because it can!

Watch the video, and then go to  this link to sign the petition.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vo6UQQnzo8]

Without Vision We Perish

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is in its third day, and so far there’s been enough drama, accusations, and threats to put a soap opera to shame. It would be entertaining, if the health of our planet didn’t hang in the balance. To read more of the details, check out this link or this one.  In thinking about what is at stake, consider these voices that are being drowned out by the drama:

  • In Copenhagen this week, in response to the proposal from developed nations of $10 billion dollars a year to combat climate change, Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, the head of the 135-nation bloc of developing countries, said.

If this is the greatest risk that humanity faces, then how do you explain $10 billion?Ten billion will not buy developing countries’ citizens enough coffins.”

Remember, to date, over $1 trillion dollars has been spent on rescuing financial institutions!

  • Joshua Mukusya is a Kenyan farmer who, 30 years ago, set up the Utooni Development Project (UTP) to help rural families improve food and water security by terracing land, building sand dams and planting trees. The UDP’s motto is “Without Vision We Perish”.

For Mr. Mukusya and other Kenyan farmers, climate change is not a debate, it’s a reality.  These subsistence farmers are trying to adjust to the negative effects of climate change, but it is difficult. Mr. Mukusya states:

The climate is changing—it is very clearThe majority of people here have no resources to cope with the situation. If we don’t make changes, we cannot survive… For us, this is a matter of survival. God created abundant land. We need to find solutions to the destruction we have made for ourselves.”

Africa, the world’s poorest continent, is most at risk because of climate change, yet it is the one that has contributed the least to global warming. To hear more about the situation of Mr. Mukusya and other African farmers, check out the video below.  “Taking the Heat” is a Canadian Foodgrains Bank video about African agriculture and climate change:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IFBhKb6Kkk]

Climate Inaction Costs Lives

Greenpeace sent a message from the Parliament buildings to the Canadian government as well as opposition parties today, as the UN Climate Change Conference begins:

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Send your own message to Prime Minister Harper, Environment Minister Jim Prentice, and/or your own member of parliament.  And don’t forget the opposition leaders, either!

Open Letter to Canadians on Faith and Climate Change

Mardi Tindal is the Moderator of The United Church of Canada. The Hon. David MacDonald chaired the House of Commons Committee on the Environment from 1989 to 1993. Both will attend the COP 15 UN meetings on Climate Change in Copenhagen. In this open letter to Canadians, they explain why the Copenhagen Conference is a place where faith and science must meet.  Here is an excerpt from their letter.  To read the complete letter, click here.

We believe the United Nations Climate Change Conference is a place where faith and science must intersect.

These talks will almost certainly determine the fate of coming generations. The future of our children is at stake. Finding a way forward will require that we attend to the best science available, so we are firmly grounded in reality. But it also demands that we recognize the spiritual values that have guided humans for centuries so we can work toward a vision of wholeness.

Science tells us what is and, given certain parameters, what will come to be. Spiritual values teach us what ought to be. Only the two, working together, can see us safely through this perilous time.

Winter Trees

Read moreOpen Letter to Canadians on Faith and Climate Change

Rising Temperatures, Rising Seas

Today on CBC Radio’s National Science Show Quirks and Quarks the topic will be “Rising Temperatures, Rising Seas“.  Sea levels have already risen 20 cm over the last 100 years, and are predicted to rise up to a meter over the next 100 years due to climate change. As the Quirks website states:

this increase in sea level would have vast impacts around the world, especially in heavily populated low-lying river deltas, like those in Bangladesh, China, southeast Asia, Egypt, the southern US and British Columbia.

Click here to listen to the program, or tune in to CBC One at noon today if you are in Canada.

If you haven’t already checked out the 350.org website to find or organize a Vigil for a Real Deal during the Weekend of Action December 11 – 13, do so now!