The following is a letter from Bill McKibben of 350.org, an international climate campaigns organization calling the people of this world to unite against climate change this year. September 24th, round it off on your calendars and join the Moving Planet
The first few months of this year have been among the most exciting on record–people in half a dozen countries have stood bravely up for their rights. Many of them have won, overthrowing dictatorships that date back decades.
Our 350.org colleagues in those countries have–predictably–been a big part of the freedom movement, and they’ve been keeping us up to date on how they’re using everything from Twitter to graffiti art to spread the word. Most of all they keep just stressing how wonderful it finally feels to be in motion: to be marching, running, moving after years of being stuck in the same tired place.
That feeling of being stuck is how we’ve felt in the climate movement for years now. The scientists have told us why we must change–and every record flood and heat wave adds to their message. The engineers have told us how we can change, as they’ve quickly turned windmills and solar panels from promising experiments into tested technology. The only thing now preventing change is the hold of the financially powerful status quo–all those coal and oil barons, and their friends in high government places, keeping us stuck in the polluting mud of inaction.
This year is going to be about movement in every sense of the word. Not just the big shoulder-to-shoulder campaign we’ve built together across the world these last two years, but also actual, powerful, fun dramatic movement in the streets — putting into action our demand for a future free from fossil fuels and dangerous climate change.
Circle September 24 on your calendar–that’s the day for what we’re calling Moving Planet: a day to move beyond fossil fuels.
On September 24–around 150 days from now–we’ll be figuring out the most meaningful ways to make the climate message move, literally. We’ll show that we can use our hands, our feet, and our hearts to spur real change. In many places, people will ride bicycles, one of the few tools used by both affluent and poor people around the world. Other places people will be marching, dancing, running, or kayaking, or skateboarding. Imagine the spectacle: thousands of people encircling national capitals, state houses, city halls. Will you join in?
We won’t just be cycling or marching this September–we’ll also be delivering a strong set of demands that can have real political impact. They’ll differ from one country to the next, of course, because the steps we need to take depend on how much fossil fuel we already use. To make this political impact we need to start building momentum now. In the US, 10,000 young leaders got the ball rolling at the Power Shift 2011 summit and rally in Washington, DC last weekend. We’ll build this momentum together over the next five months, with hard-hitting online campaigns, focused grassroots organizing at the local level, and climate leadership workshops around the world.
Our friends in Tunisia, Egypt, and throughout the Middle East have proven that change can come quickly. The greatest achievements have been without violence, but not without sacrifice. They’ve done it with bravery, and also good humor; with the internet and also with face-to-face organizing. They’ve got things unstuck in countries that seemed rusted shut. They’re our inspiration at 350 for the months ahead.
By Saman Ikram, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Cross-posted from the World Resources Report
I have witnessed decision making in a changing climate from the frontline. As I write, the impacts of devastating flooding that affected 20 million people continue to unfold. Although effective damage inventories are complete, it will be weeks before the full picture emerges. Rebuilding affected regions of Pakistan will require major livelihood transitions and economic transformation, with consequent risks of social upheaval if unplanned or poorly executed. But the aftermath of this terrible natural disaster also provides an opportunity; for a vulnerable developing country to seek to rebuild in a climate-resilience and adaptive fashion that, if done right, may help avert a repeat disaster on this scale. My report, which draws on interviews with key players working in the affected region, seeks to analyze the strategic impact these floods will have on development in Pakistan and to highlight emerging win-win interventions for climate resilient rebuilding.
Pakisan’s Great Deluge: Impacts and Challenges
Ban Ki-Moon described it as “a slow tsunami from the sky”, an outpouring of rain that affected an estimated 20 million persons and decimated an area the size of England. With crop losses covering close to 2.2 million hectares, and over 1.7 million homes damaged, leaving millions hungry and homeless, the United Nations has appealed for $2 billion simply to meet the needs of ongoing relief and early recovery for the most vulnerable.
While the full social and ecological costs of the flooding are not yet apparent, it is clear that basic infrastructure, livelihoods, agriculture, and key social services such as water, sanitation, healthcare, shelter provision, and education have been severely impacted. Rehabilitation may take years; the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, with support from the UN, have recently undertaken a damage and needs assessment for recovery and reconstruction efforts that, according to interviews and UN FIMA reports, runs into billions of US dollars (1).
By S. Anantha Krishan and Priya Subramanian
Youth in the Middle East today, are fighting back to end decades of autocracy, with a mandate for social reform, and it is now an established fact, that the bulging youth population can effect a paradigm shift in the entire socio political gamut of operations by driving radical, incremental change, with creative and innovational thinking, and most importantly with energy and enthusiasm. This bulging mass of energy if applied literally and figuratively to the most impending challenge facing the world today i.e., “Climate change” – can translate the vision for a Greener society, into reality, with a sense of urgency.
Youth unemployment is particularly high, reaching 30 per cent in 2006, and the youth share among the unemployed exceeded 50 per cent for most Arab countries. The Third Arab Report on MDG’s 2010 and impact on Global Economic Crisis With respect to MDG7 all Arab Countries share, in varying degrees, the major challenge of improving environmental governance and integrating environmental resources managementinto poverty reduction strategies and national development plans. A great majority of people in the Arab world live in urban areas located in coastal zones which are experiencing environmental challenges in terms of predicted sea level rise and the competition for land and natural resources. There are still also a large proportion of the population in the poorer Arab countries maintaining sustainable livelihoods in rural areas which are often poorly serviced in terms of water supply, sanitation and other infrastructural support and where pockets of intense poverty can be found. Not surprisingly, unemployment in Arab countries is essentially a youth-centered phenomenon
Hence, the current youth population especially in the MENA region are vulnerable to destabilistaion. Rapid urbanisation and migration pattern plays an important role because cities across the developing world lack the infrastructure, resources, or jobs to accommodate the influx of rising young workers. This creates ripe conditions for black-market activities, which in turn
often fosters unrest and paramilitary groups. Environmentally, Youth bulges often lead to degradation of forests, water supplies, and arable land. This can create conflicts over scarce resources and generate antigovernment sympathies. This is a common characteristic of the Middle east and sub-Saharan Africa.
To reverse the dynamics of these occurrences, this is the right time for countries to reap the “demographic dividend, enjoy Economies of scale and and harvest the growth opportunity in the next two or three decades. Countries must now make use of this exploding youth population in tackling climate change and promoting environmental sustainability. Transitioning to a Green economy requires, measures to channel youth into Green consumerism and creation of Green Job Markets.
There is a pressing need for countries to encourage Youth led movements that are focused on Analysing and translating Climate change scenarios into effective Policy development. A Robust platform Is required for Youth to positively respond to environmental challenges. For instance, the WORLD YOUTH CONFERENCE in Mexico, focused on the role of youth in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The conference was organized in the framework of UN General Assembly’s RESOLUTION, adopted on the 18th of December 2009, proclaiming the year 2010 as the International Year of Youth, wherein young advocates for the environment were becoming more insistent that their voices be heard. In recent years, youth have been recognized as a constituency, albeit with probationary status, at the annual sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the world’s most important intergovernmental forum dealing with international efforts and commitments to combat climate change.
Young people must continue to move forward, strengthening their position until they occupy a secure place in the decision-making process. To that end, the current World Youth Report provides an assessment of youth participation today and identifies steps that can be taken at the local and international levels to facilitate wider and more effective participation among youth in addressing climate change.
Youth and Youth led organizations need to be empowered well enough to come together and discuss issues relating to various topics on climate change including the role of youth in adaptation and mitigation projects, public awareness and participation, biodiversity and active participation in UNFCCC negotiations. Even so, resolutions to encourage, empower and mobilise youth to participate and make decisions pertaining to critical challenges, such as Global Warming, reducing Carbon footprint, Harnessing Renewable energy and creation of sustainable living conditions etc needs to be perceived and addressed with no Vacillation.
It is expected that, by 2040 the percentage of young people in the total population will be about 14%, down from 20% in 2005. This incidentally is the expected time frame for the Artic Sea to turn Ice-free, with the current Greenhouse gas emission trends. Today’s youth are at the forefront of leading the world into the Green Economy, and it is upto the Governments to capitalize on this force before the youth bulge and the Artic Ice can start to shrink.
Most of us just sit and wait for the governments to take action about climate change Wafalme instead think that together we can, with small actions in our daily life, make a difference. The most simple and innovative solution is coming from a group of kids in the slums of Nairobi. Submitted by Dickson Oyugi to the SAYEN “1 Minute to Save the World” video competition.
The overproduction of waste has always been a global concern ever since people began throwing things away. What to do with all the trash that the world produces is not only an environmental issue but is also a societal one. Things like paper, plastic, and aluminum were usually the prime products when it came to the talk of what was making waste so wasteful. So much so that over the last couple decades, recycling initiatives were set up in order to curb the onslaught of all the garbage. However, with the new century came new technology and along with that came new waste.
Electronic waste, or the excess of broken, useless, and no longer needed electronic devices has become a grave issue in today’s connected global village and may just be the number one issue when concerning waste management in the 21st century.
Only a handful of industry leaders have made a push for reforming the way their products are handled once they leave the production line. Best Buy, for example, offers an industry renowned recycling program at each of their stores. Where some businesses were making a profit by charging for accepting e-waste products, best buy incentivized the program. Best buy occasionally offers discounts when you bring in an old piece of electronics to recycle.
Having more businesses responsibly monitor their products is one way of preventing e-waste, but what about after the sale? Inevitably, people will still be throwing their hazardous electronic waste in dumps, subsequently polluting the water supply with heavy metals. Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, has famously said that, “Water is the oil of the 21st century.” This sentiment makes sense: we can live (uncomfortably) without oil, but life on earth is impossible without water. The countries with the largest problems with e-waste often have the poorest access to clean water, which further compounds their plight.
To understand the problems concerning the surplus of electronic waste it’s important to understand what effect electronic waste can have. Obviously waste is always an issue from an environmental standpoint but electronic waste is even more of a health issue. E-waste like old computers, cell-phones, and other electronics can sometimes be made with hazardous materials and toxins that do not only pollute the earth but can also cause severe health problems if not taken care of properly. Toxic substances like lead, cadmium, mercury, and other heavy metals can be found in many of today’s e-waste materials and along with these substances come the health risks of poisoning, certain cancers, and other health problems.
In India, Maharashtra is the largest producer of e-waste. Here, circuit boards and cathode ray tubes are sorted into piles and left awaiting transport. Months–and sometimes years– later, the hazardous refuse is transported to Delhi, where precious metals are worth more and plastic and metallurgical recycling plants reside. This issue is not only a problem in India, or Southern Asia, but that of a global level of importance. Apart from the obvious risks inherent in salvaging old circuitry, these heavy metals easily and frequently leach into the water supply; further jeopardizing the poor levels of drinkability which Indian and Southern Asian citizens already suffer from. It is also important to keep in mind the fact that electronic device production and use is increasing across the globe–whether it be in developed, or undeveloped countries.
The arguments can be made that e-recycling comes with possible risks of exposure to workers who are involved in it, but compared to landfills which are problematic due to toxic chemicals that can leak out and incineration that puts the toxins into the atmosphere, e-recycling is the best option. It not only protects the Earth from the potential health hazards but also helps these heavy metals from being mined for future products. Companies like eRecycle.org and proponents of e-recycling like Andrew Liveris are committed reversing the harmful effects and practices of e-waste. This, along with our involvement can help cut down on these electronics’ toxins and waste now and in the future.
E-waste is a dire environmental and health issue for the 21st century, but with all of us understanding the risks and the solutions, then our efforts to protect our planet and ourselves won’t be wasted.
This has been a cross-post from the blog, Shades of Green. Special thanks to Mr. Daniel Fielding for this contribution.
Another round of climate talks are approaching an end in Cancun, Mexico and the odds for achieving a fair, binding and ambitious climate deal seem highly improbable. But while negotiations are slow, a race has just ended between the youth from India, China and the United States. The Great Power Race was a clean energy competition between campuses in these three countries and the competition culminated in the announcement of the final winners and an awards ceremony at the COP16 negotiations.
Organized by 350.org and implemented by Energy Action coalition, Chinese youth climate action network and the Indian youth climate network, the race provided a platform for student teams to build climate solutions on campuses and prove to the leaders that the youth have gotten to work and they expect the same from their leaders.
IYCN has had the pleasure of organizing this competition in India and we hope this will lead to more similar projects next year and the years to come. We thank all our supporters, friends from China and the United States and every one of those hundreds of campuses and teams that have registered and executed some amazing projects. We hope to continue this collaboration in the future with more exciting programs.
To those campuses who have not won, we salute you for your voluntary efforts in this competition. We all got involved in this race, not to beat each other, or triumph over one another — but to show our friends and businesses and governments the sense of urgency and speed we need to address the climate crisis. We got involved not just to rack up points, but to rescue our only home and we want you all to remember that and continue to work for a safer future.
Congratulations to all the winners selected by the GPR judges:
- China: Shenyang Agricultural University and South China Agricultural University
- India: the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and St Francis Degree College for Women
- U.S.A: the University of California, Berkeley and the University of South Carolina
- Global: the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
- Most Creative: St Francis Degree College for Women
- Most Collaborative: the University of Alaska’s Mat-Su College
- Most Determined: Sri Pratap College
Watch the coverage here to hear more about the judges reviews for each of the winning campuses.
And with that, we draw this phase of the Great Power Race to a close. Many thanks to everyone who took part, particularly all the teams who dedicated so much time and passion towards advancing clean energy and climate solutions on your campuses. We very much look forward to hearing how all your efforts continue and working with you again soon enough.
You’ve all started us on the path to victory for a safe climate future — Congratulations again!
Special thanks to Katha Kartiki from the IYD for representing the teams in Cancun and to Richie Ahuja from EDF for awarding the prizes.