Month: August 2019

CEE Summer Newsletter 2019

Dear Friends,

At Union Theological Seminary, the fall semester is getting underway and we are delighted to welcome new and returning students to our campus.  We will be working with a group of students this semester on bridging scholarship and climate justice activism, with lots of movement-building opportunities, including the Climate Strike on September 20th. We are thrilled that the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City and will be standing with the great youth climate activists that have been working so hard here in this city. One such NYC-based youth activist, Xiye Bastida, happens to be the daughter of CEE Scholar in Residence Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina and CEE Original Caretakers Director Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz and so it was a special honor for us that Geraldine and Xiye were among those to greet Greta in person when her boat arrived. The UN Climate Action Summit is September 23rd  and we all must do our part to build support for global leaders to take concrete actions towards the systemic change that is necessary to face this existential crisis. Finally, I would like to share an essay I wrote for the New York times about a woman in history I have long admired for her work on public health, human rights and earth ethics: Alice Hamilton.  Looking forward to a historic year for our work together.

Sincerely,
Karenna

 


Greta Thunberg and her father Svente Thunberg arriving in NY being greeted by youth climate activists Alexandria Villaseñor and Xiye Bastida. 

En

During the summer, the Center for Earth Ethics participated in The Poor People’s Moral Action Congress at Trinity Washington University, June 17-19, 2019.  Nearly one thousand people impacted by poverty, moral leaders, activists, and advocates from over 40 states across the country convened in Washington, D.C., for three days to strategize, learn, and build power together.  Continuing that work, the Center for Earth Ethics joins William Barber, III in Virginia for the Virginia Climate Crisis Forum on September 17th.

Learn More


2019 Kofi Annan Faith Briefings:

Report from The Parliament of the Worlds Religions

On Monday July 15th, 2019 the UN Task Force on Religion and Development and the Multi-Faith Advisory Council (CA) gathered for the Annual Kofi Annan Faith Briefings in New York.

In 2019, the program focused on the theme of Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality: The Role of UN and Multi-Faith Collaboration and included keynotes from high-level experts and five panel discussions. The panel discussions focused on issues like multi-faith collaboration, inter-generational dialogue, the rights of children, and climate change.

Read the Parliament’s Full Report


Council on Foreign Relations:

CEE’s Karenna Gore presides over Combating Climate Change Conversation

Closing plenary session at the Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy workshop on the topic Combating Climate Change. Moderator: CEE’s Karenna Gore (left).

Panelists:  Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist and Director of Climate Science, Union of Concerned Scientists; Jason Bordoff, Founding Director, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, National Security Council; and Kanta Kumari Rigaud, Lead Environmental Specialist and Regional Climate Change Coordinator in the Africa Region, World Bank Group.

EARTH ETHICS / ORIGINAL CARETAKERS / SUSTAINABILITY & GLOBAL AFFAIRS

Earlier this month, CEE’s Mindahi Bastida visited Brazil to gather with other indigenous voices to discuss conservation and protection of Water Resources at this threshold of a Decade dedicated to Water.  Since that time, the world has seen reports of unprecedented fires across the Amazon rainforest.  This causes great concern over the already devastating issues we face globally of aggressive deforestation, carbon levels in the atmosphere, bio-diversity loss and species extinction.

Facing Devastation in the Amazon

by Guest Contributor, Alfredo Sirkis, Executive Director of the Brazil Climate Center / Climate Reality Project


The Remarkable Life of the First Woman on the Harvard Faculty

Alice Hamilton, an expert on public health, foresaw the rise of fascism in Germany.

NY Times Op-Ed by CEE Director, Karenna Gore for Aug. 29, 2019

***


The Story of Poverty, as told by one Alabama County on PBS News Hour.

CEE’s Senior Fellow on Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement, Catherine Coleman Flowers,
was among those interviewed by PBS.
***

The Remarkable Life of the First Woman on the Harvard Faculty

Alice Hamilton, an expert on public health, foresaw the rise of fascism in Germany.

In late August 1919, 50-year-old Alice Hamilton was sitting onboard a steamship typing quickly on a borrowed Corona typewriter, oblivious to the approaching New York skyline as she finished her return trip from Europe. She wanted to record the searing images she had just seen during an extended tour behind former enemy lines with her friend Jane Addams. In town after town across Germany, she had encountered starvation and disease, in a country reeling from the peace as well as the war, thanks to a continued British blockade designed to force the Germans to accept the harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty. Germany had become, in her words, a “shipwreck of a nation.”

Hamilton knew that the report would not be welcome by most Americans, eager to put the war behind them. Her gender would make it that much easier to dismiss. But she was determined to call Americans to conscience.

Read on…

Facing Devastation in the Amazon

by Guest Contributor, Alfredo Sirkis, Executive Director of the Brazil Climate Center / Climate Reality Project

 

The confrontation with donors like Germany and Norway, the increase of more than 273% of deforestation in the Amazon in July of this year, compared to the same month last year, the increase of invasions of indigenous land with the pollution of its rivers with Mercury; the sticking at IMPE (Brazil’s satellite image monitoring institute)  to “break the thermometer”, the foolish eager to hide the fever, are crazy episodes.

With an additional 5% of further destruction of the Amazon rainforest,  we can engender irreversible changes affecting the rain regime in the rest of the country. Floods, desertification, risks to agriculture, extreme winds, invasion of coastal areas by the sea, heatwaves make up the foretold drama of climate change. On the other hand,  global decarbonization action offers Brazil economic opportunities, if we can use and negotiate with intelligence the immense environmental services we offer, our advantages in low carbon agriculture and clean energy and the great availability for the reforestation and afforestation producing negative emissions.

Bolsonaro’s invectives and gross misinformation silence those in his government who understand the equation. Climate change is unquestionable, its recent extreme manifestations: the terrible cyclones in Mozambique, affecting three million people or the 46-degree heatwave in Nantes, France, are warnings of what is coming. 2019 will be the warmest year ever experienced by mankind.

The latest IPCC report, dealing with not exceeding 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, mentions the need to reforest an area the size of US territory. Brazil has at least 60 million hectares of degraded pasture for reforestation and afforestation, both native and economic. It has abundant sun and wind for clean energy, biofuels and is pioneering low carbon farming techniques. So why all this destruction?

It is not mainly modern agribusiness who illegally deforests, promotes land grabbing and spreads indigent livestock, purely for speculative purposes or poison rivers with mercury. These are criminal activities incited by president Bolsonaro and favored by his dismantling of federal environmental low enforcement institutions.  Agribusiness has much to lose from the international repercussions of the new outbreak of devastation, with worldwide repercussions.

Between 2004 and 2012, Brazil managed to reduce its deforestation in the Amazon from 27,000 km2 to less than 5,000 km2, reducing its CO2 emissions by 80%, more than any other country. Now the deforestation rises again, in full swing. How far will it go?

Bolsonaro hates environmental concerns. He believes they are “leftist stuff” but who were their pioneers in Brazil? Marshal Cândido Rondon, a life in defense of the Indigenous peoples, Major Manuel Archer, promoted greater urban reforestation to date, made in the Tijuca massif in the late 19th century, Admiral Ibsen Gusmão, all military.  Paulo Nogueira Batista, Marcelo de Ipanema, conservatives,  who can hardly be considered the “left-paws” of his idiosyncratic bullshit.

No, worrying about climate and biodiversity is not a “communist scheme”. It is our responsibility to the generation of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, threatened by the catastrophic consequences that can still be contained but in a closing window of opportunity. Quickly.

Original Caretakers Director, Mindahi Bastida joins Indigenous Voices Gathered in Manaus, Brazil to Support Global Efforts at Achieving the SDG’s

In the International Decade of Action for Water (2018-2028) and International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019, and coinciding with the international day of indigenous peoples (August 9), the international hydrological program celebrated with a seminar on Indigenous Knowledge for Integral Water Management in Latin America and the Caribbean in Manaus, Brazil, August 8-9, 2019

Following the seminar, on August 10th in Manaus, indigenous leaders met for a time of reflection and discussion of Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals. Indigenous peoples across the globe have long understood the value of water and the way it connects us.  CEE supports opportunities for indigenous peoples to gather, fortify their alliances and articulate wisdom that can inform new models of economic and environmental health for the well being of our people and our planet.

Center for Earth Ethics participates in the Annual Kofi Annan Faith Briefings

From the report by the Parliament of World Religions blog:

On Monday July 15th, 2019 the UN Task Force on Religion and Development and the Multi-Faith Advisory Council (CA) gathered for the Annual Kofi Annan Faith Briefings in New York.

In 2019, the program focused on the theme of Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality: The Role of UN and Multi-Faith Collaboration and included keynotes from high-level experts and five panel discussions. The panel discussions focused on issues like multi-faith collaboration, intergenerational dialogue, the rights of children, and climate change. Explore the full list of programs here.

The Parliament participated in discussions moderated by Charles McNeill and Rev. Victor Kazanjian of URI and included eminent speakers including Jamil Ahmad from UN Environment,  Mary-Evelyn Tucker from the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, Gopal Patel from GreenFaith, Rev. Ken Kitatani from Forum 21, Karenna Gore from the Center for Earth Ethics, and Audrey Kitagawa from the Parliament of Worlds’ Religions.

More photos and Complete pdf Report

Council on Foreign Relations: CEE’s Karenna Gore presides over Combating Climate Change conversation

CEE Director, Karenna Gore presided over the conversation Combating Climate Change, Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at the Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop for the Council on Foreign Relations.

Distinguished Panel:

Jason Bordoff, Founding Director, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, National Security Council

Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist and Director of Climate Science, Union of Concerned Scientists

Kanta Kumari Rigaud, Lead Environmental Specialist and Regional Climate Change Coordinator in the Africa Region, World Bank Group

***

Karenna opened the panel with this introduction:

“This is an important discussion to have in this place and time with exactly this group of people. The impacts of climate change are already here—stronger storms, record downpours and floods, deeper droughts, more destructive wildfires, melting ice and rising sea levels, loss of whole species of life in the sixth great extinction, and an increasing amount of strain and suffering among the most vulnerable peoples of the world. Week after week we see both scientific analysis and snapshots of experience. The news media is starting to connect the dots a bit more. This week, there are record high temperatures in Miami and Europe. This Friday, on the same day that our women’s soccer team is playing France in France, the temperature is expected to reach 113 degrees Fahrenheit in the southern part of that country.

The causes are also quite present among us. And if we can see them clearly, and confront and change them, we might be able to stop this tragedy from getting unimaginably worse. In addition to that, we must simultaneously work to adapt to the damage that has already been done to our ecological system, including those worsening impacts that will come no matter what we do now. And we must work to protect as many people from harm as we can.

The climate crisis is not merely an environmental crisis. It is an economic crisis. Yesterday’s New York Times included a report that Florida may have to build $76 billion worth of sea walls by 2040, perhaps causing some new thinking in that hotbed political state.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston issued a report this week saying, “Climate change threatens to undo the last fifty years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction. It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.”

It is a political crisis. We are already seeing the effect of the new government’s policies in Brazil in the Amazon rainforest and, of course, in this country as well. The outlines of the future of public discourse on this topic are already taking shape due to the demands and actions of a younger generation that is living the consequences. As the Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg has said, “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”

It is a national security issue, as the United States military and intelligence communities have recognized and stated for decades. It is also a moral issue. It requires deep consideration of our moral obligations to one another across time and space. It asks us to consider our interconnections to nonhuman life, and whether we will value and protect it. It requires us to separate truth and delusion, and to have the courage to face down powerful interests as well as our own misguided habits and patterns. And for many, many people, it presents the question of the role of God or the divine, in whatever form or forms it takes, in the world.

Does God independently intervene in the course of events? Is God expressed within the laws of nature, in the chemistry, physics, and metaphysics of our world, in the very essence of the relationship between cause and effect, leaving us with free will to discern our fate? What is sacred? What is evil? The expertise of the world’s faith and wisdom traditions are seriously needed for this challenge.”

Combating Climate Change – complete video and transcript.