Some Ideas to Inspire Action
Our second Climate Conversation gathering was wonderful! In spite of the weather, we had a great turn out with excellent thoughts, sharing and meaningful ideas. We are excited for both the energy that was generated last evening and the valuable input we received.
Everyday there is more in the news on climate predictions that are alarming. We are experiencing extreme weather fluctuations and forest fires that are threatening life. I (Doretta) recently listened to the fear in my sister’s voice living in Santa Rosa who braced herself for power outages and evacuation that fortunately did not come for her, but did for thousands nearby.
This is real! ... and that makes our time together recognizing what WE can do so vital!
As we talk about the ethical implications of climate change, we invite you to look over The Earth Charter (below) if you have the opportunity. It is a wonderful, hope-filled document.
Also you will find (below) the article that Robert Spencer wrote on Climate Change Migration.
The book we referred to that you might be interested in reading is Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and published by the Golden Sufi Center.
Doretta & Kerry
T H E E A R T H C H A R T E R
P R E A M B L E
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
Earth, Our Home
Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life's evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth's vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.
The Global Situation
The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable.
The Challenges Ahead
The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.
To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are linked. Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.
We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed.
P R I N C I P L E S
I. RESPECT AND CARE FOR THE COMMUNITY OF LIFE
1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
a. Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings.
b. Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and in the intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual potential of humanity.
2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion, and love.
a. Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty to prevent environmental harm and to protect the rights of people.
b. Affirm that with increased freedom, knowledge, and power comes increased responsibility to promote the common good.
3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful.
a. Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms and provide everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full potential.
b. Promote social and economic justice, enabling all to achieve a secure and meaningful livelihood that is ecologically responsible.
4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations.
a. Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations.
b. Transmit to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that support the long-term flourishing of Earth's human and ecological communities. In order to fulfill these four broad commitments, it is necessary to:
II. ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY
5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
a. Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make environmental conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives.
b. Establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere reserves, including wild lands and marine areas, to protect Earth's life support systems, maintain biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage.
c. Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.
d. Control and eradicate non-native or genetically modified organisms harmful to native species and the environment, and prevent introduction of such harmful organisms.
e. Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems.
f. Manage the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways that minimize depletion and cause no serious environmental damage.
6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach. a. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
c. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
d. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
e. Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.
7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth's regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.
a. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems.
b. Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
c. Promote the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies.
d. Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards.
e. Ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction.
f. Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world.
8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired. a. Support international scientific and technical cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations.
b. Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being.
c. Ensure that information of vital importance to human health and environmental protection, including genetic information, remains available in the public domain.
III. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative.
a. Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required.
b. Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves.
c. Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.
10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.
a. Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations.
b. Enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and social resources of developing nations, and relieve them of onerous international debt.
c. Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection, and progressive labor standards.
d. Require multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their activities.
11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity.
a. Secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against them.
b. Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision makers, leaders, and beneficiaries.
c. Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family members.
12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
a. Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social origin.
b. Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods.
c. Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.
d. Protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and spiritual significance.
IV. DEMOCRACY, NONVIOLENCE, AND PEACE
13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice.
a. Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental matters and all development plans and activities which are likely to affect them or in which they have an interest.
b. Support local, regional and global civil society, and promote the meaningful participation of all interested individuals and organizations in decision making.
c. Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, association, and dissent.
d. Institute effective and efficient access to administrative and independent judicial procedures, including remedies and redress for environmental harm and the threat of such harm.
e. Eliminate corruption in all public and private institutions.
f. Strengthen local communities, enabling them to care for their environments, and assign environmental responsibilities to the levels of government where they can be carried out most effectively.
14. Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.
a. Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development.
b. Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education.
c. Enhance the role of the mass media in raising awareness of ecological and social challenges.
d. Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable living.
15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
a. Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from suffering.
b. Protect wild animals from methods of hunting, trapping, and fishing that cause extreme, prolonged, or avoidable suffering.
c. Avoid or eliminate to the full extent possible the taking or destruction of non-targeted species.
16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace.
a. Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation among all peoples and within and among nations.
b. Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and other disputes.
c. Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration.
d. Eliminate nuclear, biological, and toxic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
e. Ensure that the use of orbital and outer space supports environmental protection and peace.
f. Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.
T H E W A Y F O R W A R D
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. Such renewal is the promise of these Earth Charter principles. To fulfill this promise, we must commit ourselves to adopt and promote the values and objectives of the Charter.
This requires a change of mind and heart. It requires a new sense of global interdependence and universal responsibility. We must imaginatively develop and apply the vision of a sustainable way of life locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and different cultures will find their own distinctive ways to realize the vision. We must deepen and expand the global dialogue that generated the Earth Charter, for we have much to learn from the ongoing collaborative search for truth and wisdom.
Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals. Every individual, family, organization, and community has a vital role to play. The arts, sciences, religions, educational institutions, media, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and governments are all called to offer creative leadership. The partnership of government, civil society, and business is essential for effective governance.
In order to build a sustainable global community, the nations of the world must renew their commitment to the United Nations, fulfill their obligations under existing international agreements, and support the implementation of Earth Charter principles with an international legally binding instrument on environment and development.
Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.
O R I G I N O F T H E E A R T H C H A R T E R
The Earth Charter was created by the independent Earth Charter Commission, which was convened as a follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit in order to produce a global consensus statement of values and principles for a sustainable future. The document was developed over nearly a decade through an extensive process of international consultation, to which over five thousand people contributed. The Charter has been formally endorsed by thousands of organizations, including UNESCO and the IUCN (World Conservation Union). For more information, please visit www.EarthCharter.org.
Climate Change and Disaster Related Migration by Robert Spencer
During the 1980’s, a gigantic hole in the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer was discovered over Antarctica, exposing the world to harmful ultraviolet radiation. Most people didn’t fully understand how such a discovery could affect them until the incidence of basal cell carcinoma increased drastically. Whether the skin cancer was a direct result of the hole or not, people began to pay more attention. Three decades later we hear much in the public conversation about our world-wide Climate Crises. Yet, it is often difficult for people to understand and relate to the complicated scientific and societal factors involved in reducing and mitigating the effects of atmospheric warming.
While much is being written and said about shrinking ice packs, devastating storms, floods and rising sea levels, one world-wide effect of changing climates, environmental migration, has only begun to enter our discussions. Since 2007 the World Bank has been monitoring mass migrations around the globe. In its most recent September 2019 report the Bank’s predicted that by 2050 there might be 143,000,000 migrants in three geographic regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. That would be a two-fold increase in world-wide migrants from the 70,000,000 reported in 2007 which resulting primarily from droughts, floods, fires and storms.The report focussed media attention on displacements of individuals, families and communities being increasingly caused by Climate Crises. For those of us who live in a developed nation, however, such an alarm can easily be seen as a fleeting warning
As your writer began to assemble facts and figures about the enormity of climate-caused migrations, a series of news stories about climate and disaster related displacements ran across my desk. Some stories concerned refugees and migrations closer to home. Others put a more personal face on trials suffered by people and communities seeking to adapt to alterations in their environments. A few of these are listed here in an effort to show that drastic changes
arising from the Climate Crisis are quite real.
1 : The Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.) of the U.N. stresses that continuing severe drought conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, caused by extreme weather conditions in the Pacific have resulted in widespread hunger and malnutrition, especially among children. In these three countries 3.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The group is asking the U.S. for $17,000,000 in aid, but the current administration has ruled that any aid can not be used to provide food. The first step for the affected population is internal migration from rural areas to cities. Not finding work or safe living conditions, the next step for them is to immigrate northward.
2 : Central America: Climate, Drought, Migration and the Border (4/17/2019)
The Center for Climate and Security (U.S. War College) reports that the $620,000,000 aid to Central American Nations approved by the U.S. Congress will not be a cure to the rising tide of immigration from that area. Department of Homeland Security has set guidelines for this money to be spent on border security, curtailing migrant caravans, curbing human trafficking and control of gangs. Without addressing serious climate change factors, the efforts will ultimately not be effective.
3 : Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Military (10/24/2019)
This report from the U.S. Army War College, requested by current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, studies potential climate-related problems for the military and possible solutions. A dire picture is painted of increases in blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war on a global level. Central to the analysis is the failure of our outmoded power grid as a result of unprecedented demands resulting from extended periods of heat, drought and cold. Cited as an example is the current situation in California where millions are facing blackouts because of the failure of Pacific Gas and Electric to maintain is own grid.
Also, “the permanent displacement of a large population of Bangladesh would be a regional catastrophe with the potential to increase global instability. This is the potential result of climate change complications in just one country. Globally over 600,000,000 people live at sea level.” Military relief efforts would be aggravated by climatological effects.
The study also highlighted the underlying cause of the war in Syria. “There is no question that conflict erupted coincident with a major drought in the region which forced rural people into Syrian cities as large numbers of Iraqui refugees arrived.”
4 : Climate Change has finally caught up to this Alaska village
(National Geographic, 10/2019).
The entire First Nation community of Newtok on the Yukon Peninsula of Alaska has begun the process of permanent relocation to a new inland village. Twenty-three of sixty Yup’ik families have begun the long-planned exodus which will not be completed until 2023. They are some of North America’s earliest climate-change transplants.
One resident said “Many people are not happy to be leaving the place they’ve known their whole lives.” Yet, they know that the new town will be far more comfortable and safer than the old one. Due to a 6.3 degree average temperature increase in the past fifty years, permafrost upon which Newtok sits has been rapidly melting. By 2027 the entire village will become part of the Ninglick River.
According to the General Accounting Office there were thirty-one villages in Alaska which are in imminent danger of being lost to climate change. When President Obama visited the state in 2015 he said “What’s happening in Alaska isn’t just a preview of what will happen to the rest of us, if we don’t take action. It is a wake up call.”
5 : The Rising Sea
(Newburyport News, 12/26/2017)
The town of Newburyport, MA and surrounding towns have accepted the findings of the Great Marsh Adaptation Plan for dealing with rising sea levels between 2017 and 2070. Plum Island, the barrier Island which protects the town from storm surges is the most threatened settlement of the area. The only road leading from the mainland onto the frequently inundated island would be raised above the floods in the short term. Long term recommendations for the island community include a “planned retreat”: a permanent relocation of residents to unnamed inland sites. Between 2030 and 2070 a system of rolling easements would be established, leading to such a retreat, with town and state paying residents for their vulnerable properties and expenses for relocation.
6 : Rising seas swallowed $70,000,000 in Maine home values, study says (1/22/19) According to this article in Bangor Daily News a study by Columbia University showed that coastal real estate values have plummeted due to floods caused by rising sea levels. As an example, two Bath homes valued at $150,000 each dropped in valuation to $90,000. A 2018 study online by States at Risk.org found that the 7,000 Maine residents at risk of regular coastal flooding would increase to 13,000 by 2050.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects a sea level rise across coastal New England of 1.7 inches in five years, 3.6 inches in 10 years and 5.6 inches in 15 years.
7 : Floods, landslides and wooly mammoths: how global warming is transforming Siberia
(The Independent, 8/14/2019)
Average temperatures in the Yakutia area of Siberia have warmed three degrees in the last century, three times faster than the global average. In this rural region 5.4 million people are being effected as the permafrost which underlays their land and homes is melting. Entire neighborhoods are falling into rivers and thousands are migrating to the city of Yakutsk whose population has recently jumped 20%. Shorter and warmer winters lead to more flooding which increases isolation of villages for months at a time. A way of life is washing away.
Teacher Claudia Shalugina, 63, says that after the school in which she taught for most of her career was washed away, “I think ‘Lord,it’s probably going to be the end of the world.’ “
There is an old saying among local natives that “They will survive until the day the Arctic Ocean melts” and that is what is happening now.