The post Lima preparation for Paris is already underway. While each country and their delegations have their own expectations and responsibilities, it is imperative that the entire global community prepares as well. What better way to spread global awareness and participation than with live music!? Al Gore and pop icon Pharrell Williams have teamed up to announce a global Live Earth concert in June. This concert, with its purpose to demand climate action, will be staged in six cities on all seven continents. Yes, Antarctica will also be participating in this global event. On this day, the entire globe will stand up together for a cause that is affecting all aspects of our shared planet. The ultimate goal of this music festival is to collect 1 billion signatures to encourage world leaders to adopt a new climate agreement in Paris at COP21. There is a lot of pressure for the outcomes in Paris, especially after 2014 was recorded as the Earth’s warmest year on record. A global event like this could be groundbreaking for increasing public action and awareness.
Growing up in the city of Pittsburgh, and with a teacher as a father, I spent a lot of time in museums. I learned what happened to the dinosaurs at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, what makes earthquakes occur at the Carnegie Science Center and the concept of rotational force when spinning around at SportsWorks. Museums are one of the best supplements to school, taking what you’re learning and bringing it to life.
However, currently in Pittsburgh, and in the rest of the United States, there is a lack of discussion about climate change in museums. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published two article’s (one about Pittsburgh museums and another about museums nation-wide) discussing how climate change is, for the most part, missing for exhibits. It states that only about half of U.S. science facilities address the issue.
The articles allude at two main reasons for this. The first being the stated reason by many museums: climate change is just too complicated for kids to understand. However, the articles also suggest that maybe climate change is underrepresented because the big donors of the museums want it that way.
In my opinion, both reasons are bad ones. Educating the next generation about climate change is an extremely important of increasing awareness and finding solutions. Keeping it out of museums makes it seem like its not important enough to be there.
Climate change is by far one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. Humans are creating this change in the climate; therefore humanity must take responsibility for previous actions. Developed and developing nations must switch to an energy efficient and renewable world, but it is a global effort. Climate change is expected to put pressure on natural environments as well as those constructed by humans. Therefore, in order to minimize these challenges, it is imperative to put adaptation plans into action. While the world continues to grow and develop, it is important further development is done in a sustainable manner. Sustainable development is a considerable solution towards developing in a way that lessens environmental degradation. Sustainable development is defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development as, “a mechanism for growth without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” (Warner, 2014). Sustainable development can be achieved through climate resilient pathways, which combine methods of adaptation and mitigation. However, it is argued if climate change will pose significant threats to prospects for sustainable development.
According to the UNFCCC, “Climate change poses a moderate threat to current sustainable development and a severe threat to future sustainable development.” Climate change involves a complex interaction between social and ecological systems; therefore new approaches to sustainable development must take this into consideration. Adaptation and mitigation are both essential for minimizing the risks attributed with climate change. Currently and previously, actions on sustainable development have been delayed, which poses a threat for future sustainable development because it can reduce the options for climate resilient pathways.
On the other hand, researchers at MIT, “looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the United States, and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big” (Resutek, 2014). Policies that aim at reducing carbon emissions are beneficial to health problems because these policies lead to reductions in harmful pollutants. These emission reductions also in turn have huge cost reductions for healthcare. One of the researchers Tammy Thompson states, “If cost-benefit analyses of climate policies don’t include the significant health benefits from healthier air, they dramatically underestimate the benefits of these policies” (Resutek, 2014). These results show that climate policies not only benefit the environment, but also benefit health and the economy. The recent advances in technology for renewable energy can achieve more than just meeting the goals of emissions reductions.
While the future in respect to climate change looks entirely too bleak, humanity must use existing technology and implement policy towards continuous sustainable development. We cannot move forward without doing so in a sustainable manner. All nations must work together and assist the most vulnerable nations in taking drastic measures in order to remain under the two-degree limit. Sustainable development produces global benefits in combating climate change.
Resutek, Audrey. “Study: Cutting Emissions Pays for Itself.” MIT News. MIT, 24 Aug. 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.
Warner, Koko, Dr. “Climate Resilient Pathways to Sustainable Development.” Multiple Resilience Pathways: (n.d.): n. pag. UNFCCC. UNFCCC, 19 May 2014. Web.
The other day, I was making arrangements for traveling in South America after the COP is over. I was purchasing my plane ticket on Student Universe when I noticed, under a box asking me if I wanted to purchase travel insurance, a box that was labeled “Fly Green: Offset Emissions”. Show above, the box asked me if I was interested in taking 3500 lbs of CO2 out of the air and help with forestry projects in the US and China for the low low price of $24.95.
Airplanes are obviously a source of large emissions, but as someone who loves to travel, I’ve never been able to commit to idea of decreasing my use of airplanes in order to reduce my carbon footprint. I feel that many people probably feel a similar guilt when traveling, but are also unwilling to cut airplanes out of their lives. The ability to donate a little money after purchasing a plane ticket that goes to apparently taking CO2 out of the atmosphere could alleviate that guilt. However, what is the $24.95 actually going to? 3500 lbs of CO2 being taken out of the air how? In theory it seems like such a good idea, trying to offset your carbon emissions from flying through. But is this really just a way to feel less guilty and not actually a practical way to help the environment? Or is this an option we will be seeing more and more off when purchasing plane tickets in the future?
Lets face it, Halloween is all about the candy! Every October, Americans spend at least $2 Billion dollars on Halloween candy. However, what most people don’t realize is that the environmental impact of these sweet treats is actually a trick. Here is the low down on Halloween candy, and how you can avoid the tricks and enjoy more treats.
Palm oil, a type of edible vegetable oil grown specifically in tropical climates, is an extremely versatile cooking oil that, among many other household items, is also found in candies. Palm oil is inexpensive and can be found in “50 percent of items found in supermarkets” (Donlon, 2014). This global commodity is extremely popular and production rates are doubling. So what is the problem with palm oil? Palm oil is a driving force of deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and greenhouse gas emissions, which are all contributing factors to climate change. Large areas of tropical forests have been destroyed throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa in order to clear land for palm plantations. This process of deforestation has several impacts on the environment. The process of clearing the land involves slash and burn agriculture, which is the deliberate burning down of forests. This burning results in habitat loss and species disruption, which in some cases is leading to extinction. The clearing of the land also makes it easier for poachers to capture and sell wildlife. Orangoutangs are often targeted by poachers. Not only does this impact wildlife, but also it releases stored carbon into the atmosphere, thus altering the concentrations of greenhouse gasses. This is just one aspect that shows the unsustainable side of Halloween.
The other day while in a cab in Washington DC, my driver started reciting Benjamin Mays’ Just a Minute immediately after he rushed through a yellow traffic light…
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give an account if I abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.
I had never heard this poem before but it struck me. Every single minute matters and every single minute must be maximized. The negotiations of COP20 need to maximize each minute. There are strong hopes that the outcome of Lima will not be one similar to that in Durban. It is essential that texts are negotiated and ready to go for COP 21 in Paris, 2015. The time is now.
Cities are some of the most populated areas around the world, which make them a practical starting point for raising awareness and initiating action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are an important area of concentration for production and consumption, therefore a number of environmental issues arise in cities around the world. The Cities for Climate Protection is a transnational network, which concentrates on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in urban spaces. “The ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection program originated as both climate change and sustainability began to become significant issues for local authorities.”This network effectively advances its objectives with respect to governing climate change by promoting renewable energy and clean development in cities worldwide. The actions performed by the Cities for Climate Protection emphasize how critical local governments are in the response to global climate change.
Participation in the Cities for Climate Protection is different than other transnational networks, in which the CCP is not an exclusive organization and they “seek to recruit as many members as possible.” Once a program member, the CCP network is committed to assisting in the reduction of local emissions through, “a series of five milestones of progress, involving conducting an emissions inventory, setting an emissions reduction target, formulating an action plan, implementing policies, and monitoring progress.” The ICLEI’s offers assistance for cities to pursue these five milestones. The Cities for Climate Protection program, as a transnational governance network, is both beneficial at local and international levels. Cities that are members of the program have access to financial resources, interact in a support network compromised of international cities, and have the ability to voice their environmental concerns. The CCP Australia, for example, has access to national funding specifically set aside for the program. Success has been seen through the CCP Australia resulting in, “saving 4.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2007/8 and a total of 18 million tonnes since the program started.”
The campaign of the CCP focuses on a collective effort made by cities, which creates a more effective route rather than having cities competing with each other. The CCP encourages membership by focusing on appealing strategies such as cost reductions. The U.S. city of Denver, Colorado has its own success with the CCP, “Denver’s municipal government invested $1.6 million into installing light-emitting diodes into all red traffic lights and ‘don’t walk’ signs across the city. The LEDs, having longer life spans and lower energy requirements, led to a $5million savings in energy use and maintenance for the city.”The success of the CCP shows that tackling the issues of global climate change can be extremely productive even at a local level.
Growth of the CCP has also led to a global effort against climate change. “Today the CCP has 674 members responsible for 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.” Teamwork seems to be a recurring theme in governance for global climate change. The CCP and other transnational networks can collectively contribute to mitigation of global climate change. The ICLEI has set up a network compromised of strong, diverse local organizations, which together will improve communities around the world and work together against the larger threat of climate change.
Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 55, Print
 Ibid, 62.
 Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 67, Print
Fay, Chris. “Think Locally, Act Globally: Lessons to Learn from the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign.” Innovations: A Journal of Politics 7 (2007): 1-12. Web.
When dealing with a global issue such as climate change, it is difficult to determine responsibility and even more difficult to uphold accountability. A problem of this kind of scale requires both small local and large global efforts. However, it is hard to connect those efforts together in a way that is most productive for everyone. The Climate Group, an international non-profit, believes that a “clean revolution: the rapid scale up of low carbon energy and technology” will allow for a low-carbon future (The Climate Group). As a transnational organization, the Climate Group works across several nations, holding offices in China, North America, India and Europe, and completing projects of many different scales (The Climate Group). The Climate Group’s role as a transnational organization is vital to achieve its goal of information sharing because it successfully works as a connection between groups who would otherwise not have access to the ideas or resources to make the improvements the world needs.
The Climate Group works under four core principles that sum up what I believe to be some of the most important parts of climate change governance. The four principles are: climate change is an economic issue not just an environmental concern, a small community has a big influence, partnerships are more effective than organizations acting alone and clear communication of practical success stories drives action (Climate Group Annual Report 2012). These are also four of the reasons that the Climate Group, and other transnational organizations, can achieve goals faster or easier than global or local groups. Its largest initiative currently, called the Clean Revolution, encompasses these principles by bringing together local groups and large companies to install technology for a low carbon future. The Climate Group worked with LED light manufactures to make LED lights available in parts of the world that would have possibly not had this technology until much further into the future. They also work to publish reports on research such as electric cars to provide information and evidence to a wide variety of countries and organizations showing not only the environmental impact but also the economic gain of using such products (The Climate Group).
In the past 10 years of existence, the Climate Group has been a successful part of climate change governance. Since it works as more of a mediator, connecting people with resources, ideas and information, it has flexibility that many other organizations do not. However, it does rely on the finical support of individual donor, NGOs and companies in order to keep doing the work it is doing. The fact that the Climate Change Group has been successfully receiving funding for the past 10 years does show that there are people who understand the importance of transnational organizations and how they can help make the world act faster.
Learn more about the Climate Group by watching this video:
“We won’t let you down. You’ll see.” are the bold words that 26 year old Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner uses to end her spoken word poem about climate change that she preformed at the Unite Nations Summit on climate change on September 23. Written to her son, she talks about the effects of climate change on the lives of all of those living in many different island areas around the world. She calls everyone to action to join the battle against climate to change and to start fighting. Her words and her message are incredibly powerful and her poem is a great reminder of the importance of spreading the word about climate change in different ways. The graphs, the data and the scientific statistics are incredibly important, but for many people they are difficult to understand and impossible to see their importance. The use of art, of poetry, of music, or of pictures is a way to spread the message in a entirely different way to touch an entirely different audience. It allows us to see the effects and to feel the emotion of those most affected. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is an impressive example of how powerful the climate change message can be.
Last Thursday, a group of international researchers released a report that projects a global population increase from seven billion today to eleven billion by the end of the century. This overturns a general agreement worldwide that population would only peak at about nine billion people in 2050, which was the assumption underlying a plethora of key scientific reports on malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, demographic composition of different countries, and, most interestingly for our purposes, all previous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on the threats of climate change and global warming.
This burgeoning population could reach, as Simon Ross from the think tank Population Matters told the Guardian, “between 40-75% larger than today in the lifetime of many of today’s children and will still be growing.” The implications of this on resource use and energy demand will be quite significant: more people will require more resources in order to survive, but the resources are in finite supply, so competition will increase, thus putting pressure on those at the margins who may be denied access. With this grim prospect, we can expect to see more exaggerated poverty and strife worldwide, while aggregate resource use can be expected to increase.
This will pose a large roadblock for any future agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because not only is the necessity for emissions reductions compounding over time, but so is the difficulty of achieving that aim (mainly due to the reasons I discussed above). The momentum must be continued now and aggressive reductions must be made now so that, moving forward, the work before us will be within our reach to achieve; if we wait any longer, that work will only get harder and harder, and further and further out of our ability to cope.