Climate Change and Social Justice

climate_changeIn a recent survey on this blog, Climate Change was considered one of the most important concerns we humans have.

There are many ways to perceive possible solutions to this global crisis.

Two particular perspectives that I’ve recently come across show promise for lending great support to any possible solutions.

The first is on smartMeme and is best summed up in their own words:

“You’ve probably heard about last week’s official report from the Whitehouse, confirming that climate change is serious, and that ‘changes are unavoidable’. So, we’re wondering, ‘What kind of changes are we talking about’?

“Will we keep blasting the Appalachian mountains for the sake of “clean coal”? Will we privatize water in order to “preserve” it? Will climate change stand in as an excuse for lax labor practices and corporate greenwashing?”

Here’s the way smartMeme works: “Organizing – at the heart of it – has always been about building relationships through telling our stories. What smartMeme is doing is upgrading methods for the information age, and cutting through the clutter of the modern media climate with clear calls for justice that spread as viral memes.”

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a Meme, from Wikipedia, is:
“…a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, and is transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena.”

The second perspective is called The Transition Initiative. Rather than being a way to induce more action to stem the tide of climate change, The Transition Initiative  is a way for communities to prepare for sustanability even if, as seems likely, governments and corporations don’t take swift enough action.

I feel their methods were spawned by the consideration that there are already enough changes in the environment that even a full-out program to reverse changes cannot keep up with change already induced…

You can find out about The Transition Initiative  at the site, Transition Culture. I do recommend, though, that you also read the fine essay at Orion Magazine to gain a deep understanding of why such an Initiative  is necessary…

Spiritual Quote:

“The current process for creating international environmental legislation, which addresses only one problem at a time, is fragmented and unsystematic. Conventions, treaties, and protocols, have been adopted on such diverse issues as the protection of the ozone layer and control of international traffic in hazardous wastes. Other conventions are being negotiated on climate change and on biological diversity. Still others have been suggested on such subjects as land-based sources of marine pollution. No one body is responsible for drafting international environmental legislation. Nor have the nations of the world agreed on a set of principles upon which environmental legislation can be based. Moreover, the countries signing the various legislative instruments are rarely identical. Thus, it is almost impossible to harmonize or combine agreements.

“The international legislative process is well known to be slow, cumbersome, and expensive. Once a problem is identified, meetings of experts are called to prepare a draft agreement. The agreement is negotiated by interested governments and signed at a plenipotentiary meeting. After what is often a lengthy period of ratification and accessions, the legislation comes into force, but only in those states which have signed it. A secretariat is generally established to facilitate and monitor the convention’s implementation. If legislation has to be modified, as in the case of the Montreal Protocol, where increased ozone deterioration outstripped the protocol’s provisions, updating can be as slow as adoption. Many countries with limited numbers of diplomats and experts cannot cope with such time-consuming and expensive procedures, particularly as the number of negotiations is increasing to respond to pressing global environmental problems.

“The present ad hoc process for environmental legislation can only become more unmanageable. Numerous proposals have been offered to provide global mechanisms to create and support a sustainable pattern of development. Some experts advise strengthening the existing UN system by upgrading the mandates of agencies such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), reconfiguring the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), or using the Trusteeship Council to administer certain global resources. Others suggest creating new bodies such as an environmental security council, a World Court of environmental justice, or an international environmental negotiating body to prepare, adopt, and revise international legislation on issues requiring global action.

“However well motivated and helpful such proposals are, it seems apparent to the Bahá’í International Community that the establishment of a sustainable pattern of development is a complex task with widespread ramifications. It will clearly require a new level of commitment to solving major problems not exclusively associated with the environment. These problems include militarization, the inordinate disparity of wealth between and within nations, racism, lack of access to education, unrestrained nationalism, and the lack of equality between women and men. Rather than a piecemeal approach conceived in response to the needs of the nation-states, it seems clearly preferable to adopt an umbrella agreement under which specific international codes could be promulgated.

“Long-term solutions will require a new and comprehensive vision of a global society, supported by new values. In the view of the Bahá’í International Community, acceptance of the oneness of humanity is the first fundamental prerequisite for this reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Recognition of this principle does not imply abandonment of legitimate loyalties, the suppression of cultural diversity, or the abolition of national autonomy. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a far higher aspiration than has so far animated human efforts. It clearly requires the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It is inconsistent not only with any attempt to impose uniformity, but with any tendency towards excessive centralization. Its goal is well captured in the concept of ‘unity in diversity’.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1991 Aug 13, International Legislation for Environment Development

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What Should Be Our Greatest Concern?

surveyFor the last week, this blog has had a survey up called, What Should Be Our Greatest Concern?

It’s time to tally the votes from our readers.

First though, let me state that 48% of this blog’s readers come from the United States; however, that means that 52% are from a wide diversity of other countries…

I should also say that the way the Internet and Blogs work the survey will likely receive more voters and I may revisit the results in the future.

For now though, here are what readers feel should be our greatest concerns.

The Top Concern with 11% of the vote:

Clean Water

The set of next greatest concerns, each carrying 9% of the vote:

Children’s Rights
Climate Change
Human Rights

The next set, each with 8%:

Moral Development
War
Starvation
All of the Above…

Next, each with 6%:

Epidemic Disease
Rainforests
Women’s Rights

Next, each with 4%:

Economic Collapse
Terrorism
Religious Fanaticism

And, finally, with 2%:

Wetlands

I’ll be using this survey of Greatest Concerns for the next series of posts—doing research and providing links so you can explore the issues…

Spiritual Quote:

“Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.

“We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 212

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Women, Rights, and Water

women_waterWomen are important.

Rights are important.

Water is important.

So, why are so many women so challenged when it comes to getting water? (to see some fascinating yet chilling visual evidence, click on “image credit” at the top of this post)

From OneWorld.Net: “Women and girls in developing countries bear significant economic, physical, and health burdens to provide water for their families on a daily basis — ‘this is the forgotten glass ceiling’, write sustainable water experts John Sauer and Andra Tamburro.”

The article goes on to say:

“Women in poor communities across Asia, Africa, and South America typically walk an average of 3 miles a day to fetch water for their households, often from contaminated sources such as rivers, unprotected springs, and shallow wells…The time this takes could be spent instead on income-generating activities, education, and caring for the family. Moreover, the quality of water that women in developing nations must bring home puts people at risk of deadly diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and amoebic dysentery, diarrheal diseases that kill more children under five than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”

Why is this happening?

What can be done about it?

How will worsening climate change affect the situation?

Some of the answers can be found at OneWorld.Net’s Water and Sanitation guide.

The intro to the guide states:

“The achievement of providing 1.6 billion people with access to safe drinking water since 1990 is potentially jeopardised by the absence of matching investment in sanitation. The lack of hygienic facilities experienced by 2.5 billion people is a fundamental cause of disease which leads to 1.5 million deaths of children each year. Climate change uncertainties cast a menacing shadow over the efforts of developing countries to honour their citizens’ rights to safe water and sanitation.”

It continues with these topics (along with many links to further information):

Millennium Development Goals and Water and Sanitation
The Sanitation Deficit
The Benefits of Water and Sanitation
The Right to Water and Sanitation
Water and Sanitation in Global Politics
Local Governance of Water and Sanitation
Water is a Finite Resource
Climate Change and Water

Like most of the problems afflicting humanity, nothing significant will happen to rectify the situation until the people in-charge and the people affected attain some measure of Unity

Spiritual Quote:

“Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 133

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Killing Our Fellow Humans

killing_our_fellow_humans

Three Guys At The Café

G1: “You’re sayin’ it’s America’s fault?”

G2: “Sure. Who uses the most stuff that ends up in the atmosphere?”

G1: “What about China?”

G3: “Yeah, they beat the Americans by a billion miles!”

G2: “But America’s tryin’ to spread its life-style all over the world—tryin’ to make everybody into gross consumers.”

G3: “But China’s makin’ the most babies…”

{A Gal Walks Up… }

Gal: “Whachu guys talkin’ ’bout?”

G1: “Who’s puttin’ the most shit in the atmosphere.”

Gal: “That’s easy, it’s the rich guys in power.”

G2: “But which  rich guys?”

Gal: “Don’t matter what country, if they got the power they’re gonna trash things for the rest of us…”

~~~~~~~~~

That imaginary scene certainly isn’t deep or precise or particularly wise, but one thing’s for sure—those in power aren’t doing anywhere near enough to save our human family from critical disaster.

And, It’s not China or the Americans; it’s the people in power in those countries. The rest of us, all over the world, are reaping the dark fallout from their lack of wisdom.

“So, Alex, you seem to be saying the rich/powerful leaders are killing humanity?”

Pretty much, yes.

A case in point:

From SciDev.Net: Sea level rise ‘will surpass worst-case scenario’ “A sea level rise of one metre or more is predicted to have a devastating effect on major coastal cities, island states and populous delta areas such as those in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“A panel of experts speaking yesterday (10 March) at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, warned that without efforts to curb the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, sea level rise would expose most parts of the world to greater storm surges — increases in local sea level caused by the winds of storms — threatening lives and infrastructure.”

I can imagine one of those guys in the café saying: “So a bunch of poor beggars get a little wet, so what?”

Sorry guy, it’s not just a bunch of poor beggars getting a little wet; it’s millions of our fellow humans suffering and dying because a certain class of humans are addicted to a life-style that harms Mother Nature and makes Her lash out in pain and rage.

I may be attacked for saying this, but the attitude that unlimited freedom leads to prosperity has been clearly proven to be false. The affluent bubble has needles of crisis poking it all over…

From the Climate Change Policy Advisor at Oxfam : Sea level rise spells increased likelihood of disaster for the world’s poorest people “These startling new predictions on sea level rise spell disaster for millions of the world’s poorest people. Poor coastal communities in countries such as Bangladesh are already struggling to cope with a changing climate and it can only get worse. This must be a wake-up call for rich countries are not doing anywhere near enough to prevent these cataclysmic predictions becoming a reality. Rich countries, who created the climate crisis, must cut their emissions from 1990 levels by at least 40 percent by 2020 and provide the $50 billion that is the minimum needed each year to help the world’s poorest people adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.”
famly-roof
Your home may not look like the one in that image but if the kind of home it is makes you not care what’s happening to the people who live there, you need to examine your conscience, make it face reality, and find some form of compassion for the struggling and innocent members of our Human Family…

Spiritual Quote:

“He must not consider divergence of races nor difference of nationalities; he must not view variation in denomination and creed, nor should he take into account the differing degrees of thoughts; nay, rather, he should look upon all as mankind and realize that all must become united and agreed. He must recognize all as one family, one race, one native land; he must see all as the servants of one God, dwelling beneath the shelter of His mercy.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace

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Being Nice To Our Mother…

climate_changeDo you like to breathe? Would you rather not be poisoned by your drinking water? Will your great-grandchildren still be able to see the Sun?

Humans are amazing!  Give them a world to play in and they’ll work as hard as they can to make it unliveable…

Some recent news clips:

From The New York Times:: Amid a Hopeful Mood, U.N. Talks Set Countries on Path Toward a Global Climate Treaty

From The Daily Telegraph, UK: Climate summit ends in acrimony

From OneWorld.Net: Activists Demand ‘Change’ at Climate Conference

From BBC News: Australians condemn climate plan

O.K., so the Big-Rollers are worried because they’re having problems continuing to milk the moderately-affluent. The poor are getting poorer. Human slaughter is rampant. Corruption is eating us alive…

So, imagine all those problems are resolved to everybody’s satisfaction—I know, it would take a huge change of a massive number of hearts but just imagine it:

Rich and poor are equalizing their holdings, no one is murdering thousands, and politicians are learning trustworthiness…

And… most of us are dying from the backlash of a ferociously mad Mother Earth…

Here’s some sobering information ( from GreenFacts ):

What are the likely consequences of climate change?

And, some fascinating videos about how bad it really is…

Spiritual Quote :

“A little over a hundred years ago, in a series of letters to the world leaders of the day, Bahá’u’lláh spoke of humankind as entering on a period of history that would entail the radical restructuring of the life of the planet. Challenges never before contemplated would, He said, soon overwhelm the resources of even the most advanced nations. They could be addressed only by a world federal system whose central organ would be a representative world parliament empowered to create a code of universally agreed upon and enforceable international law. ‘The earth is but one country,’ Bahá’u’lláh asserted, ‘and mankind its citizens’.

“As the magnitude, complexity, and urgency of environmental problems have gradually forced themselves on public attention, the logic of this prescription has become daily more apparent. The available international legislative machinery and processes are proving inadequate, primarily because they are based on laws governing nation-states. To the Bahá’í International Community it seems clear that, unless creative new steps in the restructuring of the international order can be taken, environmental degradation alone, and its long-term implications for social and economic development, will lead inexorably to a disaster of appalling dimension.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1991 Aug 13, International Legislation for Environment Development

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Gustav and the Titanic

Gustav appears to have lost some strength yet may still cause much suffering and damage. Is there an optimistic attitude available when disaster strikes?

From the BBC: Hurricane Gustav losing strength “In New Orleans, the city’s levees are holding surging floodwaters, although sea levels could still rise further.”

From the Wall Street Journal: Early Signs Show Gulf’s
Energy Facilities Held Up
“Turbulent weather prevented a damage assessment Monday, and industry officials cautioned that in previous hurricanes, initial optimism soured when operators began to test equipment.”

From Agence France-Presse: US keeps eye on two new storms after Gustav strike “The United States kept a close eye Monday on another hurricane and a new tropical storm that emerged in the Atlantic…”

So Gustav may not kill “too” many. Further storms may or may not kill. Other natural disasters will appear; possibly worse if the climatologists are right.

If you’ve been through disaster, you may have acquired great fear of them.

If you’ve lost a dear one to a disaster, you may remain completely unconsolable.

Is there any condition of heart or attitude of mind that can meet the terror of natural disaster, ride the waves of pain and suffering, yet remain serene?

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

23 April 1912

“Within the last few days a terrible event has happened in the world, an event saddening to every heart and grieving every spirit. I refer to the Titanic disaster, in which many of our fellow human beings were drowned, a number of beautiful souls passed beyond this earthly life. Although such an event is indeed regrettable, we must realize that everything which happens is due to some wisdom and that nothing happens without a reason. Therein is a mystery; but whatever the reason and mystery, it was a very sad occurrence, one which brought tears to many eyes and distress to many souls…when I consider this calamity in another aspect, I am consoled by the realization that the worlds of God are infinite; that though they were deprived of this existence, they have other opportunities in the life beyond…Foregoing the pleasures and comforts of the earthly, they now partake of a joy and happiness far more abiding and real…it is our duty to remember these departed souls in our prayers and supplications that they may draw nearer and nearer to the Source itself….These are the only considerations which can comfort and console those whom they have left behind.

“Furthermore, these events have deeper reasons….These events happen in order that man’s faith may be increased and strengthened…

“Let no one imagine that these words imply that man should not be thorough and careful in his undertakings. God has endowed man with intelligence so that he may safeguard and protect himself. Therefore, he must provide and surround himself with all that scientific skill can produce. He must be deliberate, thoughtful and thorough in his purposes, build the best ship and provide the most experienced captain; yet, withal, let him rely upon God and consider God as the one Keeper. If God protects, nothing can imperil man’s safety; and if it be not His will to safeguard, no amount of preparation and precaution will avail.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 48

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Mother Earth Is Crying

pollution

What will it take for the leaders, political and corporate, to stop killing the very environment they use to make their profits?

From IC Publications, News from Africa: West Africa’s coastline redrawn by climate change: experts

From the Canberra Times: Adjusting for climate change a shared task

From Agence France-Presse: ‘Clock ticking’ on global warming: UN climate chief

One barrier to resolving this crisis is the highly fractured nature of our world community. There are, taking an opinionated survey, a few leaders of countries, some members of legislative bodies, a larger group of leaders and lobbyists for corporations, a number of representatives to global institutions, many leaders of religious communities, a few very rich people, and The Rest of Us . . .

Most of those groups are at-odds with each other.

Most people are struggling to just get along—making ends meet—dealing with depressive tendencies . . .

Many of our fellow family members in the world community are being treated like expendable non-entities!

Here are some personal responses, from Orion Magazine, to this crisis:

Storm’s Coming
Six Authors Respond to Climate Change

Recently Orion asked six authors to describe what the changing climate is doing to them personally–how it is affecting their hearts and souls. Here’s what they had to say:

A Quartet by Gretel Ehrlich

Anticipating Our Future by Jared Duval

Seeing Paradise by Jay Griffiths

The Source of Hope by Peter Sawtell

The Inner Climate by Pico Iyer

The Moral Climate by Carl Safina

The solution is not easy. The resolution of disunity is The major challenge facing humanity.

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

“Our efforts now and in the future to safeguard our common habitat and to promote the well-being and development of all peoples must be characterized by a unified approach within an effective universal framework. The unity we envision is more than an academic matter of geography, climatology or oceanography. It is based on the concept of the fundamental unity of mankind living as one world community, in which the problems of economic relations and the use of natural resources must be addressed from a global perspective with due regard for the wide diversity of climates and cultures. The universal framework proposed by Bahá’u’lláh over one hundred years ago calls for universally agreed-upon and enforceable laws, the equitable sharing of resources, fundamental adjustments to present institutional and economic relations, and world-wide changes in the values, behavior, and consumption patterns of individuals and communities.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1990 Aug 06, Environment Development

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