Monday, December 29, 2014

From GRIST: Watch the year's biggest climate stories in 2 minutes

This was a big year for climate news, good and bad. In June, the Obama administration took its biggest step yet in the fight against global warming by introducing regulations to limit greenhouse gases from existing power plants. Read more.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Christmas thought
The promise has at last been fulfilled. Everything we've waited for is with us. 

The fullness of time has come in our time. Everything we could ever want we
 finally have. The people rejoice. The angels sing. The truth has come. 
 Everything is perfect. Except….

Except that the stables of the world still house children whom the Christ child 

came to raise to life. This time it is our doors before whom they stand and beg 
for shelter. We are the people being asked to take them into our minds and 

Crèche scene at the Mount

hearts and souls.

Christmas moves us to recommit 
ourselves to re-form our minuscule 
worlds to take in Christ the homeless 
child, the outcast, the refugee; Christ 
the other whose strangeness frightens
us but whose otherness will teach us
a great  deal more about the world than
we know at the present time.  

Christmas calls us to take our lives and 
break them open at the crib where Jesus

waits for us today.

Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem because they were from the “tribe of Judah.” 

They had to leave home to go home, in other words. It may be a Christmas lesson 
for all of us. Tied up in our own little worlds, we may be missing the one Jesus came 
to save through us unless we reach out to the “other.”  Christmas will come to us in 
its fullness when we welcome into the human race all those we persistently see as 
lesser, and cry, “Peace to God’s people on earth.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Fundmental Link Between Climate Change, Health and Gender

Yeniva Massaquoi and Latha Swamy from Women’s Environment and Development Organization explore the intrinsic link between climate change, health and gender.

The fundamental link between climate change, health and gender 

Yeniva Massaquoi and Latha Swamy from Women’s Environment and Development Organization explore the intrinsic link between climate change, health and gender.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean: Successes and Challenges (Organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB))

This side event highlighted successful investment initiatives undertaken by the IADB in Latin American countries in adapting to, and mitigating, climate change. The session was moderated by Mávila Huertas, Peruvian television anchor.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said the Latin American continent, with its high number of middle-income citizens, has specific challenges to address rapid urbanization patterns, but these also present many opportunities in the form of developing “green” transport and renewable energy systems. She noted that although the continent does not have the political and economic weight of other “bigger players,” it has the resources and institutional strength to determine a sustainable path for the future of development.

Luis Alberto Moreno, IADB President, shared the Bank’s experiences on investing in sustainable development projects, noting that 25% of its portfolio is allocated to sustainable development. He cautioned against addressing climate change in isolation, saying it will require a comprehensive set of actions across all sectors and regions. Moreno said success should be measured in terms of transformation over decades, and declared that many of IADB’s investments will only yield results over 15 to 20 years. MORE

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why this U.N. climate summit is especially important

Thousands of diplomats from around the world are gathering today in Lima, Peru, in the latest round of wrangling to hammer out a deal to address climate change. This two-week conference is the COP20 — meaning, it is the 20th conference of parties to 1992’s U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. MORE

Thursday, November 20, 2014

25th Anniversary of the Rights of the Child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e., as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.

The unprecedented acceptance of the Convention clearly shows a wide global commitment to advancing children’s rights.

There is much to celebrate as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention, from declining infant mortality to rising school enrollment, but this historic milestone must also serve as an urgent reminder that much remains to be done. Too many children still do not enjoy their full rights on par with their peers.

Business as usual is not enough to make the vision of the Convention a reality for all children. The world needs new ideas and approaches, and the Convention must become a guiding document for every human being in every nation.

Click to watch video of the history of this Convention: Read Convention history on the CRC @ 20

Thursday, November 13, 2014


President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping
Just weeks after the largest climate mobilization ever, the world's two biggest polluters -- the United States and China -- announced their most ambitious climate action yet. That is not a coincidence: it's a sign that PEOPLE  pressure is working, and that we need to apply much more. 

Here's my take on what the just-announced plan from President Obama and Premier Xi is, and isn't: 

1) It is historic. John Kerry was right to use the phrase in his New York Times oped announcing the deal: for the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions. This is a necessity for advancing international climate negotiations. 

2) It isn't binding in any way. In effect President Obama is writing an IOU to be cashed by future presidents and Congresses (and Xi is doing the same for future Politburos). If they take the actions to meet the targets, then it's meaningful, but for now it's a paper promise. And since physics is uninterested in spin, all the hard work lies ahead. 

3) It is proof -- if any more was needed -- that renewable energy is ready to go. The Chinese say they'll be using clean sources to get 20% of their energy by 2030 -- which is not just possible, it should be easy. Which they know because they've revolutionized the production of solar energy, driving down the cost of panels by 90% or more in the last decade. 

4) It is not remotely enough to keep us out of climate trouble. We've increased the temperature less than a degree and that's been enough to melt enormous quantities of ice, not to mention set the weather on berserk. So this plan to let the increase more than double is folly -- though it is good to see that the two sides have at least agreed not to undermine the 2 degrees Celsius warming target, the one tiny achievement of the 2009 Copenhagen conference fiasco. 

5) It is a good way to put pressure on other nations. I've just come back from India, which has worked hard to avoid any targets of any sort. But the lesson from this pact is, actual world leaders at least need to demonstrate they're talking about climate; it makes the lead-up to the global negotiations in Paris next year more interesting. 

6) It is a reason projects like Keystone XL and fracking make even less sense than ever. If President Obama is serious about meeting these kinds of targets, then we need serious steps; the surest way to undermine this commitment would be to approve new pipelines or authorize other new fossil fuel developments like fracking. If you pledge sobriety and then buy a keg of beer, people are going to wonder. 

7) It is another reminder that it is past time to divest from fossil fuels. The burgeoning divestment movement has been arguing not just on moral grounds, but also making the point that the future will inevitably lead to a downsloping curve for the old energies. This is another warning -- for anyone who looks more than a few quarters out, the writing is on the wall that the fossil fuel era is on its way out. 

8) It's not, in any way, a stretch goal. These numbers are easy -- if you were really being cynical, you could say they're trying to carefully manage a slow retreat from fossil fuels instead of really putting carbon on the run. The Germans, for instance, will be moving in on 60% of their energy from clean sources by the mid-2020s, when we'll still be cutting carbon emissions by small increments. 

9) It is -- and this is the real key -- a reminder that movements work. President Obama first endorsed the 80 percent by 2050 goal he enshrined in this pact when he was running for president in 2007, a week after 1,400 demonstrations around the nation demanded that goal. This comes seven weeks after by far the largest global climate demonstrations in history, and amidst ongoing unrest in China about the filthy air in its cities. 

10) It isn't, in other words, a reason to slack off one bit in the ongoing fight for a livable climate, a fight we must continue at all cost. If we want this to be a start, and not a finish, we've got to build even bigger and more powerful movements that push the successors of these gentlemen to meet what science demands. 

Today is an achievement for everyone who's held a banner, signed a petition, and gone to jail -- and a call for many more to join us going forward! 

Thank you so much for everything you've done, and for everything you will do next.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Who’s Getting it Right on Climate Change?

David Suzuki
David Suzuki. (Photo: Dale Robbins/Moyers & Company)
Environmentalist David Suzuki tells Bill that while the United States has procrastinated on tackling climate change, other countries have taken steps toward cutting their emissions and preparing for a more volatile climate future. And in many cases, their efforts have succeeded without the negative economic repercussions that America’s politicians fret over. 

The David Suzuki Foundation, a nonprofit group founded by the scientist to research and promote sustainability, gave us a few examples of successful tactics that countries (and a few cities in North America) are using to fight climate change that the US might want to take a closer look at. They note, however, that there “isn’t a country in the world that’s on track to reduce emissions to the extent needed to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 Fahrenheit)” — the target experts hoped we would meet to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
A listing of 9 countries who are getting it right:    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Next 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Celebrating a birthday gives honor to the celebrant as well as to those marking the occasion. On October 24th all countries are invited to celebrate the birthday of the United Nations for on this day in 1945 the UN Charter was adopted. “Let us reaffirm our commitment to the marginalized and vulnerable and work in common cause for the common good,” said General Secretary Ban Ki-moon in his address marking this day. The United Nations helps countries and people throughout the world in numerous ways, as this video chronicles. On this day we give special thanks to Sister Kathleen Ries who keeps us informed about what is happening at the United Nations. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

A New Look at Sustainability

Are Tiny Houses a Viable Affordable Housing Solution?

Micro-homes could provide a place for those experiencing homelessness to find stability and, perhaps, to live permanently. By John Light and Neha Tara Mehta
Watch video »

Friday, September 26, 2014

Climate March

Title:  Over 675,000 of us marched around the world. It was a beautiful expression of our love for all that climate change threatens, and our hope that we can save this world and build a society powered by 100% safe, clean energy. Click to see more pictures from the day:

Monday, September 8, 2014

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

90% of all disasters are related to weather, climate and water. 

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) provides world leadership, expertise and international cooperation in:
  • Weather
  • Climate
  • Hydrology and water resources
  • Related environmental issues
                                                    Read more.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Climate Change is Killing our Mother Earth

Last updated on 1 August 2014, 9:01 am
In their own words: indigenous people from Canada, Finland, the US, Guatemala and Peru tell their climate stories.
Nordic Sami people in the early 1900s - before they had to worry about climate change (Pic: Christopher Forster/Flickr)
Nordic Sami people in the early 1900s – before they had to worry about climate change (Pic: Christopher Forster/Flickr)
From Alaska to Peru, indigenous people across the world are already having to face up to the damage that climate change is imposing on their land. 
Due to their reliance on the land – culturally, spiritually and physically – indigenous people are one of the most vulnerable to climate risks. But campaigners warn against seeing them as one heterogeneous group.
From region to region, the difficulties and opportunities posed by climate change differ wildly. While in the Arctic circle, communities are worrying over thinning ice, in Peru communities are having to deal with the loss of their rainforests.
This week at RTCC, we’ve been looking at where indigenous people fit in the climate jigsaw, including their role in the UN, adaptation initiatives in Kyrgyzstan and how a Brazilian tribe is using solar powered smartphones to fight illegal logging.
To round up, we’re handing the stage over to indigenous people themselves. Here’s how they are coping with the loss of their “Mother Earth” – and how they’re fighting back.
Ghislain Picard
Assembly of First Nations National Chief 
Climate change is having a dramatic impact for Indigenous peoples in Canada.  Because of the geographic location of many of our communities and our relationship to the land and environment, our reliance on traditional foods and resources, we are the first to experience the impacts of climate change.
1993: A Heiltsuk girl from the First Nations of Canada holding one of the paddles of the "Glwa", the Heiltsuk canoe (Pic: UN Photo/John Isaac)
1993: A Heiltsuk girl from the First Nations of Canada holding one of the paddles of the “Glwa”, the Heiltsuk canoe (Pic: UN Photo/John Isaac)
Many governments and organizations – including Indigenous governments and organizations – have been calling on Canada to do more to address and reduce the impacts of climate change.
We absolutely must recognize here in Canada as well as in the international community the negative health and lifestyle impacts of climate change and act immediately to ameliorate these impacts in the interests of all peoples and our environment.
Katherine Sorbey,
Mi’Kmaq, Canada
The Mi’Kmaq have one of the longest coastlines of any of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. Climate change is affecting our in land rivers and lakes with warmer waters and a larger incidence of acid rain, and coal burning pollution killing our fish.
Climate change is affecting people’s behaviour, with more and more distrust for decision makers and greedy business praising money.
Climate change is affecting our transmission of knowledge or transgenerational teachings with fewer and fewer opportunities to walk the shores, woods, wetlands, caves, mountains where we can see or hear fowl, animal, or fish life, with insects and plant life and thus begin our talks and stories with those around us to pass on our language, knowledge and world view as an eco-centric people.
Mary Rose Watts
Mi’Kmaq, Canada
Climate change is killing our Mother Earth – our continuum will come to an end sooner than foretold.
Agnes Williams 
Seneca, USA
The nuclear issue – including fracking – is a big thing for us in our community. New York State is trying to develop gas resources – we have a lot of gas resources and people are going at it.
In New Brunswick, there was a demonstration by the Indians where they protested against fracking from an energy company from Texas. Then there was an injunction, people’s heads got busted and they were all put in jail because they were protesting.
Climate change is a really big thing. We always hear how our populations will not sustain, the glaciers are melting and we’re not going to be sustainable anymore.
That’s one of the projects we have had with the Indigenous Women’s Network which is sustainable community gatherings since the 1980’s and what we try to do is bring together people who are working towards sustainable communities – whether its food or energy – so that we can be better stewards of the land and not just become the victims of climate change.
In 1939, Ojibwe, Navajo, Seneca, and Dakota peoples were invited to share indigenous folklore and dance with the King and Queen of England during the hot dog picnic at President Roosevelt's cottage in New York (Pic: FDR Presidential Library & Museum/Flickr)
In 1939, Ojibwe, Navajo, Seneca, and Dakota peoples were invited to share indigenous folklore and dance with the King and Queen of England during the hot dog picnic at President Roosevelt’s cottage in New York (Pic: FDR Presidential Library & Museum/Flickr)
Ingrid Sub Cuc
Kaqchikel Maya, Guatemala
Solola has never seen a season as dry as it is experiencing right now. The corn fields are beginning to dry out and the corn is not developing as it would normally. Farmers are beginning to go out in the early morning to water more than usual because it hasn’t rained in weeks.
The community is worried that if the climate continues to change as drastically as it has in the past few years our indigenous communities might experience the biggest change in diet, with less corn being produced. Indigenous people in Guatemala depend heavily on corn for their diets.
Without tortillas indigenous people wouldn’t just lose their food but their identity, their work, their income and their history.
Tomas Aslak Juuso
Sami, Finland
We are reindeer herders and we are seeing the reindeer change their migration patterns … This has changed our livelihoods. We now have rain falling steadily for long periods in the middle of winter.
In the past it would only rain once a winter, if that. This causes ice-snow, which the reindeer can find impossible to break through to reach the plants beneath, and also makes the ice on lakes and the surface of the ground unpredictable.
Bouba Aeisatu
The government sometimes dispossesses Forest People without any compensation. Commercial deforestation simply cuts the trees down without preparing the Indigenous Peoples. We are forest people; we use the forest for medicine, for hunting and gathering, for fruits.
Gideon James
Gwich’in Elder Arctic Village, Alaska
I really think the fish are moving toward the Yukon (120 miles south). Global warming is here. Scientifically, we can’t solve it, but as human beings, we can slow it down by driving less. [Cars cause] carbon dioxide.
There is bad weather and every year it’s getting worse and worse. Thirty years ago the permafrost was solid underground, so the land was flat. Now there’s dents everywhere. If we don’t identify greed, we will destroy the earth. The greedy take and take. Get greed under control!
Members of the Gwich'in Nation go on a peace march in 2005 (Pic: yeimaya/Flickr)
Members of the Gwich’in Nation go on a peace march in 2005 (Pic: yeimaya/Flickr)
Trimble Gilbert
Traditional Chief of Arctic Village, Alaska
More vegetation is growing because of lots of rain. The brush is hard for caribou … Couple of years ago, we saw a polar bear; then another year we had problems with wolves killing our dogs.
Things are changing so much. The river turned red from the red rock. This has never happened before. The basin upriver was shaken by rain, hail, and thunder.
Rich people go anywhere they want and always roll over us Native People with money. A plane from Fairbanks burns 50 gallons an hour, so that’s a 100 gallons roundtrip every day. We [Arctic Village Gwich’in] don’t burn that much. The city is different.
John Goodwin
Iñupiaq Elder and marine mammal hunter, Alaska
Grandpa and grandma would tell stories how the “world is getting warmer and warmer.” Back then, when it would get into the 20s, that was a heatwave. Ice would be so thick in the (Kotzebue) Sound, it would take a while for it to get out because there was a lot of thick ice out there, but now ice is not as thick as it used to be.
Ugruk [bearded seals] are always looking for good ice to lay on, this is a migration area as they go north to find ice, so if no ice here, then they keep going. So some years we have no ugruk.
Gladis Vila Pihue
President of the National Organisation of Indigenous Andean and Amazonian Women of Peru
When a mining company came to Huancavelica, many people came into the community to profit, and the money changed our lifestyle – we saw things we had not seen before, like prostitution and alcoholism.
These changes weaken our communities to the point where they are disappearing as we can no longer maintain our way of life, our culture. We lose our collective way of life.
To date, the government says things like “we built a bridge, we’re helping with climate change mitigation,” but there is no real strategy, indicators or engagement with communities to put a strategy in place.
That is what we want.  Many communities already feel the effects – glaciers are reducing, in the Andes water is less accessible and we have to walk further to get it. Rivers are overflowing in the Amazon.
Indigenous people in Peru, where this year's UN climate conference will take place (Pic: International Development Law Organization/Flickr)
Indigenous people in Peru, where this year’s UN climate conference will take place (Pic: International Development Law Organization/Flickr)
We used to plant chakra next to the river, now we cannot. Our food security has already been impacted.  For centuries our people have relied on mother nature to dictate when to plant and when to  harvest, and now there is no regularity for us to rely on.
With thanks to Cultural Survival and Rights and Resources for their help with gathering the quotes
Read more on: Canada | featured | Indigenous People's Week

Monday, August 25, 2014


What is Women’s Equality Day? 

At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”

The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.

The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities.