Month: September 2020

Climate Activism – Catherine Flowers, Rev. Yearwood, Varshini Prakash & Mustafa Ali

Introducing the Bloomberg Green Festival

September 14 – 18, 2020

The Bloomberg Green Festival 2020 was a 5-day immersive experience featuring global voices and proprietary insight.

The Bloomberg Green Festival was organized to be a true thought leadership experience operating at the crossroads of sustainability, design, culture, food, technology, science, politics and entertainment. Built to foster solutions-oriented conversations, the five-day festival featured a mix of panels, presentations, fireside chats, and interactive elements. Focused on core issues of climate action, the Green Festival is a celebration of the thinkers, scientists and practitioners leading the way in the climate era.

You can still watch sessions online, by completing the Registration, including the Climate Activism session with Catherine Coleman Flowers. Catherine is the founder of CREEJ, Center for Earth Ethics Senior Fellow for Environmental Justice & Civic Engagement, and author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret.

 

Climate Activism

10:00 AM – The Green Vote

  • Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President & Founder, Hip Hop Caucus
  • Moderator: Jillian Goodman, Reporter, Bloomberg Green

10:25 AM – Winning the New Green Deal

  • Varshini Prakash, Co-Founder & Executive Director, The Sunrise Movement
  • Moderator: Akshat Rathi, Reporter, Bloomberg Green

10:50 AM – Climate Justice

  • Catherine Coleman Flowers, Founder, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice
  • Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization, The National Wildlife Federation
  • Moderator: Jillian Goodman, Reporter, Bloomberg Green

Pledge to be a Faith Climate Justice Voter!

This is a moment for fundamental change. When people of faith vote our values, elected officials take note. We can help make change by electing leaders who are committed to ending structures of oppression, ending environmental injustices, and tackling climate change.

Join us in helping communicate our values of caring for God’s Creation and loving our neighbors.

I pledge to vote with climate and Creation in mind.

I am pledging to be a Faith Climate Justice Voter to put love into action for every living creature and for every vulnerable community suffering the impacts of our changing climate, from sea rise, to extreme heat, to devastating droughts, to supercharged storms.

My pledge to vote for climate justice is rooted in environmental justice. I am in solidarity with all who are disproportionately burdened with climate impacts, including Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities.

I believe that our nation’s elected leaders and our public policies should reflect our shared values. By pledging to be a consistent voter and vote with climate justice in mind, I am communicating the values of caring for God’s Creation and our children’s future.

You pledge to vote. We remind you to keep your word. It’s so easy. And it works.

Make Good Trouble with Catherine Flowers

Catherine Flowers | Good Troublemaker

"If we want justice, whether it's climate justice, environmental justice, social justice— it starts with voting." 🗳🌎This National Voter Registration Day, join Good Troublemaker Catherine and help protect the vote in states that need it most ➡️ bit.ly/Good-Troublemaker-3.

Posted by John Lewis: Good Trouble on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

REGISTER VOTERS

The right to vote is critical for an effective and fair democracy that works for all of us. For $1.50 per person, you can help fight voter suppression in states that need it most, like Georgia.

We’re partnering with Register2Vote, a non-profit and non-partisan, voting rights organization, to mail pre-filled voter registration forms to eligible unregistered voters. Recipients will also receive a pre-stamped return envelope, so all they have to do is sign it and drop it in the mail. Then, Register2vote will track it to make sure it arrives safely at the County Registrar. By lowering the barriers to voter registration, we can make a difference in the fight against voter suppression.

VOTE

Make sure you’re set to make GOOD TROUBLE this election season.

– Check that you’re registered to vote here.

– Register to vote here.

– Confirm you have the ID you need to vote in your state here.

– Make sure you’re an informed voter here.

– Check your polling place here.

 

Get Inspired!  WATCH

“John Lewis: Good Trouble” chronicles the life and career of the legendary civil rights activist and Democratic Representative from Georgia.

 

USE YOUR VOICE AND PRIVILEGE TO SUPPORT OTHERS’ RIGHT TO VOTE.

See where voter suppression is already silencing voters at alarming rates (Source: Brennan Center) and then help empower disenfranchised communities by facilitating others to register to vote.

Learn how…

Climate Crisis Policy Launches Climate Movement Campaign

The Center for Earth Ethics has been participating in the Climate Crisis Policy (CCP) review of pending climate legislation. We strongly encourage all those interested in protecting our environment through the legislative process to use the extensive resources collected by CCP to deepen your understanding of proposed legislation. You can participate by attending the bi-weekly Action Campaign calls, through Climate Crisis Policy’s “Adopt-a-District” program, join the Faith Mobilization, or find another way to engage your community and representatives.

A “Climate Bill Package” Creates Unified Front for Climate Movement, Preparing Now for Nationally Coordinated Effort in 2021

 

For Climate Week 2020, a nationwide network has launched a ”Climate Bill Package” campaign, uniting 10 bills spanning key policy sectors.  Designed to unite the underlying movements, the bills are collectively supported by over 1200 organizations.

 

The Climate Bill Package tackles regenerative agriculture, fracking, fossil fuel subsidies, plastics, refrigerants, confined animal feeding operations, toxic pesticides, planting billions of trees, restoring wetlands, environmental justice, and just transition, with additional bills pending.

 

Collectively, these have a myriad of climate, environmental and structural benefits, and serve as core elements of a more comprehensive legislative agenda in 2021.  

 

“Strategically, the package unites movements to increase the political power needed for victory,” said Todd Fernandez, Director of Climate Crisis Policy, featuring a digest of climate solutions from 150 sources.  “If we work together across topics, climate activists can defeat the triumvirate of Big Oil, Big Ag & Big Pharma and reclaim our democracy.  But we have to be ready.”

 

The Climate Bill Package network will target all 435 Congressional Districts with an Adopt-A-District effort where local organizations form mini-coalitions to secure co-sponsorship of the package. In 2020, the network will target 100 Districts, led by local leaders with Climate Reality, Project Drawdown, Unitarian Universalists, Sierra Club, 350, and more.

 

Among the many NGOs leading legislative efforts, the network collaborates with the Center for Biological Diversity, Mighty Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Food & Water Action, Family Farm Alliance, Environmental Investigation Agency, Climate Justice Alliance, The Center for Earth Ethics, and The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

 

Expectations are high that 2021 will present the first opportunity for huge climate action in Congress.  To prepare, the network aims to grow nationwide coalition capacity and infrastructure so that civil society writ large is ready to seize this moment and save our planet from ecological disaster.  

 

The network hosts open meetings on Wednesdays featuring experts on the legislation and action with past meetings available on YouTube.  The website lists the Package Bills, Sponsors, Group Support, and District leads. They are also reviewing the U.S. House Climate Action Plan to identify what’s good, bad, and missing, to prepare for action in 2021.

2020 CLIMATE BILL PACKAGE 
(See Detailed Summaries; Outreach Toolkit)

 Materials

1. Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 (H5845 – 2020):

  • Phases out most common single-use non-recyclable plastic products by 2022
  • Reforms waste and recycling programs, and establishes nationwide bottle return refund program
  • Holds corporations responsible for cleaning up plastic pollution

2. American Innovation & Manufacturing Act (H5544 – 2020)

  • Bipartisan bill to replace environmentally harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigeration and air conditioning with more efficient cooling products
  • Creates 33,000 manufacturing jobs and an estimated 2.5M industry jobs by 2027

3. Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (H7940 – 2020)

  • Bans pesticides shown to cause significant harm to children, adults, and the environment, some which are already banned or restricted in Europe & Canada
  • Bans insecticides that lead to pollinator collapse
  • Protects frontline communities directly impacted by pesticide exposure

 

Farming & Forests

4. Farm System Reform Act (H6718 – 2020)

  • Phases out concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and large factory farms that produce enormous waste and harmful pollution
  • Offers buyouts to help farmers transition from CAFOs to regenerative practices


5. Food & Agribusiness Merger Moratorium Act (H2933 – 2019)

  • Halts corporate consolidation in the food & farming industries, which devastates independent farms and can thwart efforts on regenerative practices
  • Establishes commission to investigate the impact of market concentration


6. Climate Stewardship Act (H4269 – 2019)

  • Supports programs to reduce or offset one-third of agricultural emissions by 2025
  • Plants 16 billion trees, including 400 million in urban areas
  • Restores and protects 2 million acres of essential coastal wetlands
  • Invests in regional food systems, helping small and medium sized farms provide fresh, nutritious food to more people via local systems


7. Agriculture Resilience Act (H5861 – 2020)

  • Rewards farmers for promoting healthy soil and carbon sequestration
  • Supports farmers for practicing pasture-based livestock systems
  • Provides financial incentives to help farms transition to green energy
  • New federal programs aimed at reducing food waste

 

Fossil Fuels


8. Fracking Ban Act (S.3247 / H5857 – 2020)

  • Bans fracking nationwide by 2025 and prioritizes transition of fossil fuel workers into good-paying jobs in their communities
  • Immediately bans new federal permits for fracking-related infrastructure and bans fracking within 2,500ft of homes


9. End Polluter Welfare Act (H7781 – 2020)

  • Eliminates up to $150B in federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies over 10yrs
Environmental Justice & Just Transition


10. Environmental Justice for All Act (H5986 – 2020)

  • Addresses disparities in environmental and public health, particularly impacting under-served communities and communities of color
  • Provides economic assistance for communities that depend on the fossil fuel industry, ensuring a fair and just transition for workers and local economies

Help Secure Sponsors! Adopt-A-District.

Why Climate Change is an Environmental Justice Issue

BY  |Originally published SEPTEMBER 22, 2020 for State of the Planet – The Earth Institute’s blog at Columbia University

 

September 21-27 is Climate Week in New York City. Join us for a series of online events and blog posts covering the climate crisis and pointing us towards action.

 

While COVID-19 has killed 200,000 Americans so far, communities of color have borne disproportionately greater impacts of the pandemic. Black, Indigenous and LatinX Americans are at least three times more likely to die of COVID than whites. In 23 states, there were 3.5 times more cases among American Indian and Alaskan Native communities than in white communities. Many of the reasons these communities of color are falling victim to the pandemic are the same reasons why they are hardest hit by the impacts of climate change.

How communities of color are affected by climate change

Climate change is a threat to everyone’s physical health, mental health, air, water, food and shelter, but some groups—socially and economically disadvantaged ones—face the greatest risks. This is because of where they live, their health, income, language barriers, and limited access to resources. In the U.S., these more vulnerable communities are largely the communities of color, immigrants, low-income communities and people for whom English is not their native language. As time goes on, they will suffer the worst impacts of climate change, unless we recognize that fighting climate change and environmental justice are inextricably linked.

Heat

The U.S. is facing warming temperatures and more intense and frequent heat waves as the climate changes. Higher temperatures lead to more deaths and illness, hospital and emergency room visits, and birth defects. Extreme heat can cause heat cramps, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, hyperthermia, and dehydration.

patient in hospital bed

A heat stroke patient in the ER (Photo: Janine Rivera)

Disadvantaged communities have higher rates of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Heat stress can exacerbate heart disease and diabetes, and warming temperatures result in more pollen and smog, which can worsen asthma and COPD. Heat waves also affect birth outcomes. A study of the impact of California heat waves from 1999 to 2011 on infants found that mortality rates were highest for Black infants. Moreover, disadvantaged communities often lack access to good medical care and health insurance.

African Americans are three times more likely than whites to live in old, crowded or inferior housing; residents of homes with poor insulation and no air conditioning are particularly susceptible to the effects of increased heat. In addition, low-income areas in cities have been found to be five to 12 degrees hotter than higher income neighborhoods because they have fewer trees and parks, and more asphalt that retains heat.

Extreme weather events

While climate change cannot be definitively linked to any particular extreme weather event, incidents of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, heavy downpours, winter storms, floods and hurricanes have increased and climate change is expected to make them more frequent and intense.

Extreme weather events can cause injury, illness, and death. Changes in precipitation patterns and warming water temperatures enable bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxic algae to flourish; heavy rains and flooding can pollute drinking water and increase water contamination, potentially causing gastrointestinal illnesses like diarrhea and damaging livers and kidneys.

buildings destroyed by hurricane katrina

Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage. Photo: FEMA/Mark Wolfe

Extreme weather events also disrupt electrical power, water systems and transportation, as well as the communication networks needed to access emergency services and health care. Disadvantaged communities are particularly at risk because subpar housing with old infrastructure may be more vulnerable to power outages, water issues and damage. Residents of these communities may lack adequate health care, medicines, health insurance, and access to public health warnings in a language they can understand. In addition, they may not have access to transportation to escape the impacts of extreme weather, or home insurance and other resources to relocate or rebuild after a disaster. Communities of color are also less likely to receive adequate protection against disasters or a prompt response in case of emergencies. In addition to physical hardships, the stress and anxiety of dealing with these impacts of extreme weather can end up exacerbating mental health problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress and suicide.

Poor air quality

While climate change does not cause poor air quality, burning fossil fuels does; and climate change can worsen air quality. Heat waves cause air masses to remain stagnant and prevent air pollution from moving away. Warmer temperatures lead to the creation of more smog, particularly during summer. And wildfires, fueled by heat waves and drought, produce smoke that contains toxic pollutants.

Living with polluted air can lead to heart and lung diseases, aggravate allergies and asthma and cause premature death. People who live in urban areas with air pollution, or who have medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma or COPD, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution.

child in hospital bed

Air pollution exacerbates asthma. Photo: Dani

Black people are three times more likely to die from air pollution than white people. This is in part because they are 70 percent more likely to live in counties that are in violation of federal air pollution standards. A University of Minnesota study found that, on average, people of color are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide outdoor air pollution than white people. One reason for the high COVID-19 death rate among African Americans is that cumulative exposure to air pollution leads to a significant increase in the COVID death rate, according to a new peer-reviewed study.

Pollution

More people of color live in places that are polluted with toxic waste, which can lead to illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma. These pre-existing conditions put people at higher risk for the more severe effects of COVID-19.

The fact that disadvantaged communities are in some of the most polluted environments in the U.S. is no coincidence. Communities of color are often chosen as sites for landfills, chemical plants, bus terminals and other dirty businesses because corporations know it’s harder for these residents to object. They usually lack the connections to lawmakers who could protect them and can’t afford to hire technical or legal help to put up a fight. They may not understand how they will be impacted, perhaps because the information is not in their native language. A 1987 reportshowed that race was the single most important factor in determining where to locate a toxic waste facility in the U.S. It found that “Communities with the greatest number of commercial hazardous waste facilities had the highest composition of racial and ethnic residents.”

For example, while Blacks make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, 68 percent live within 30 miles of a coal plant. LatinX people are 17 percent of the population, but 39 percent of them live near coal plants. A new report found that about 2,000 official and potential highly contaminated Superfund sites are at risk of flooding due to sea level rise; the areas around these sites are mainly communities of color and low-income communities.

The link between climate change and environmental justice

Mary Annaïse Heglar, a climate justice essayist and former writer-in-residence at the Earth Institute, asserts that climate change is actually the product of racism. “It started with conquest, genocides, slavery, and colonialism,” she wrote. “That is the moment when White men’s relationship with living things became extractive and disharmonious. Everything was for the taking; everything was for sale. The fossil fuel industry was literally built on the backs and over the graves of Indigenous people around the globe, as they were forced off their land and either slaughtered or subjugated — from the Arab world to Africa, from Asia to the Americas. Again, it was no accident.”

The harmful impacts of climate change are linked to historical neglect and racism. When Black people migrated North from the South in the early 20th century, many did not have jobs or money; consequently they were forced to live in substandard housing. Jim Crow laws in the South reinforced racial segregation, prohibiting Blacks from moving into white neighborhoods. In the 1930s through the 1960s, the federal government’s “redlining” policy denied federally backed mortgages and credit to minority neighborhoods. As a result, African Americans had limited access to better homes and all the advantages that went with them—a healthy environment, better schools and healthcare, and more food options.

Prime examples of environmental injustice

Poor sanitation in the U.S.

Catherine Flowers, founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice and a senior fellow for the Center for Earth Ethics, which is affiliated with the Earth Institute, is from Lowndes County, Alabama. As a child growing up in a poor, mostly Black rural area with less than 10,000 residents, she used an outhouse before her family installed indoor plumbing. After leaving to get an education, Flowers returned to Alabama in 2002 and still saw extreme disparities in rural wastewater treatment. She visited many homes with sewage backing up into their homes or pooling in their yards, as many residents couldn’t afford onsite wastewater treatment. She is still advocating for proper sanitation in Lowndes. As a result of her work, Baylor College’s National School of Tropical Medicine conducted a peer-reviewed study which showed that over 30 percent of Lowndes County residents had hookworm and other tropical parasites due to poor sanitation.

”We’re also seeing that there is a relationship between [wastewater and] COVID infections,” added Flowers. “We don’t know exactly what it is yet—but you can actually measure wastewater to determine the level of infections in the community before people start showing up with the illness.” In Lowndes, one of every 18 residents has COVID-19; it is one of the highest infection rates in the U.S.

Today, Flowers works at the intersection between climate change and wastewater throughout the U.S. “The more we see sea level rise, the more we’re going to have wastewater problems,” she said. Her new book, Waste, One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, due out in November, shows how proper sanitation is essential as climate change will likely bring sewage to more backyards everywhere, not just in poor communities.

Cancer Alley

An 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, hosts the densest concentration of petrochemical companies in the U.S. There have been so many cases of cancer and death in the area that it became known as “Cancer Alley.”

industries next to communities

Cancer Alley (Photo: Gines A. Sanchez)

Most of these petrochemical plants are situated near towns that are largely poor and Black. There are 30 large plants within 10 miles of mostly Black St. Gabriel, with 13 within three miles. St. James Parish, whose population is roughly half Black and half white, has over 30 petrochemical plants, but the majority are located in the district that is 80 percent Black.

These plants not only emit greenhouse gases that are exacerbating climate change, but the particulate matter they expel can contain hundreds of different chemicals. Chronic exposure to this air pollution can lead to heart and respiratory illnesses and diabetes. As such, it is no surprise that St. James Parish is among the 20 U.S. counties with the highest per-capita death rates from COVID-19.

Despite efforts of the residents to fight back, seven new petrochemical plants have been approved since 2015; five more are awaiting approval.

Hurricane Katrina

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, caused extensive destruction in New Orleans and its environs. More than half of the 1,200 people who died were Black and 80 percent of the homes that were destroyed belonged to Black residents. The mostly Black neighborhoods of New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward were hit hardest by Katrina because while the levees in white areas had been shored up after earlier hurricanes, these poorer neighborhoods had received less government funding for flood protection. After the hurricane, when initial plans for rebuilding were in process, white neighborhoods again got priority, even if they had experienced less flooding. Eventually federal funds were directed toward the rebuilding of parts of the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East and the strengthening of their levees.

Flint, MI

In 2014, the city of Flint, MI, whose population is 56.6 percent Black, decided to draw its drinking water from the polluted Flint River in order to save money until a new pipeline from Lake Huron could be built. Previously the city had brought in treated drinking water from Detroit. Because the river had been used by industry as an illegal waste dump for many years, the water was corrosive, but officials failed to treat it. As a result, the water leached lead from the city’s aging pipelines. Officials claimed the water was safe, but more than 40 percent of the homes had elevated lead levels. As almost 100,000 residents — including 9,000 children — drank lead-laced water, lead levels in the children’s blood doubled and tripled in some neighborhoods, putting them at high risk for neurological damage.

In October, 2015, the city began importing water from Detroit again. An ongoing project to replace lead service pipes is expected to be complete by the end of November. And just recently, Flint victims were awarded a settlement of $600 million, with 80 percent of it designated for the affected children.

Steps to achieve environmental justice

As the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, Catherine Flowers works to implement the best practices to reduce environmental injustice. Here are some key strategies she prescribes.

  • Acknowledge the damage and try to repair it.
  • Clean up sites where environmental damage has been done.
  • Create an equitable system for decision-making so there is not an undue burden placed on disadvantaged communities. “Lobbyists that represent these [polluting] companies shouldn’t have more influence than the people who live in the area that are impacted by it,” said Flowers. “We need to make sure that the people that live in the community are sitting at the table when decisions are being made about what’s located in their community.”
  • Call out the officials who are making decisions that are not in the best interest of the people they represent.
  • Vote to put in place representatives that listen to their constituents rather than the people and companies that donate to them.
  • Provide climate training to help people become more engaged. For example, the Climate Reality Project (Flowers sits on its board of directors) trains everyday people to fight for solutions and change in their communities.
  • Partner with universities to conduct peer-reviewed studies of health impacts to help validate and draw attention to the experiences of disadvantaged communities.
  • Build cleaner and greener. “We cannot discount the impact this could have on communities around the world,” said Flowers. “If we don’t pollute and we have a Green New Deal to build better, cleaner, and greener, then we won’t have these environmental justice issues.”

‘We Need to Focus On People As Well’ – Kate B. Little Boy interviews Catherine Flowers

Catherine Coleman Flowers grew up in rural Lowndes County, Alabama — which is often called “Bloody Lowndes” for its violent, racist past — where her ancestors worked the land as slaves. This legacy has left its mark on her and on the county in the form of low wage jobs, lack of sanitation infrastructure, and enduring poverty.

In 2019, Coleman Flowers founded the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice to address the health and environmental conditions of rural Americans. From her time outside of Alabama she brings access to new partnerships and a willingness to cross race, class, and party lines to fight for poor, rural communities. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, a board member at Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and rural development manager for the Equal Justice Initiative.

Speaking about her love for Alabama, Coleman Flowers once said, “There is something about that black dirt that gets into your soul.” With its searing legacy of slavery and the Civil War, her Southern roots are crucial to understanding Coleman Flowers’ love of community and the fight for rural environmental injustice that is her life’s work.

Coleman Flowers is the author of a forthcoming memoir, Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize for a first book in the public interest. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama. In a recent Zoom conversation, Coleman Flowers shared with me her thoughts on rural poverty, race, and the environmental movement.

Read On…

Environmental Justice for All Act

The Center for Earth Ethics has been participating in the Climate Crisis Policy review of climate bills and legislation for 2021.  This week, CCP discussed the Environmental Justice for All Act.  If you missed the CCP call and would like to learn more about this legislation, you can join the

Environmental Justice for All Act – Improving Lives of Marginalized Communities

Facebook Live Online Tour – Next Stop: Tuesday, Sept. 15 from Los Angeles 1:00 – 2:30 pm ET

Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijlav (D-AZ) House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Raul Grijalva is leading forums on Facebook Live to promote the “Environmental Justice for All Act,” which he and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced. See fact sheet

Grijalva and Rep. McEachin will discuss the impacts that decades of neglect have had on Cancer Alley and how the Environmental Justice for All Act would give community members long-sought legal powers to protect themselves from polluter abuses. The bill was written after a collaborative process with impacted communities lasting more than a year, and has been praised as a new model for preparing legislation.

Event details and links will be made available on Rep. Grijalva’s website HERE.


Join us for the upcoming Climate Crisis Policy review sessions:

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Earth Charter and Ecological Civilization Webinar Series

On September 10th, CEE Director Karenna Gore, joined speakers Mary Evelyn Tucker and Meijun Fan along with moderator, Andrew Schwartz to begin a conversation on Ecological Civilization inspired from China’s adoption of this directive into their constitution. Please enjoy this first webinar in a 4-part series beginning with Values & Worldviews: Ecological Civilization as Mutual Flourishing.

Webinar Series: Earth Charter and Ecological Civilization

A new kind of collaboration, toward a new kind of civilization, is needed if we are to shift humanity away from the current civilization that is indifferent to the needs of the most vulnerable and that predominantly has lifestyles and production patterns that destroys the life support systems that sustain life on Earth.

Two decades ago, after years of international collaboration and with input from visionaries around the world, a document known as the Earth Charter was drafted as a vision of hope and a call to action. The 16 principles of the Earth Charter provide a framework for the long-term well-being of people and the planet.

In 2012, China adopted Ecological Civilization in its National Constitution and mandated its incorporation into “all aspects of economic, political, cultural, and social progress.” This call for civilizational change raises awareness of the need for an alternative paradigm. But, what is “ecological civilization” and how can it be achieved?

Now, as we enter the third decade of the new millennium, there is urgency in generating an intercultural and intersectoral dialogue about the meaning, principles, metrics, vision, and values that ought to drive humanity towards ecological civilization.

Toward this end, a group of global partners are coming together to organize a series of webinars to exchange views, deepen discourse, and hopeful stimulate further collaboration. This series of four webinars, to take place between September and December, is being organized as a collaborative effort between the Earth Charter International, University for Peace, Pace Center for Green Sci-Teck and Development, the Institute of Ecological Civilization, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), and the Center for Process Studies.

The following questions will be addressed:

  • What is an “Ecological Civilization?”
  • What values and worldviews are needed to ground a paradigm shift towards that direction?
  • Can the Earth Charter principles provide a framework for building an ecological civilization?
  • How to cultivate the consciousness needed, and how to turn this new consciousness into action?
  • What are the driving forces of the current civilization and what could be the drivers of “Ecological Civilization”?
  • What is the role of education, policies, and international collaboration to turn Ecological Civilization a reality?

Learn More, See More Dates and Speakers…

What Can You Do to Fight the Climate Crisis?

With 60 Days to Save the Earth…

Catherine Flowers among experts interviewed for the Guardian.

Individual acts alone won’t stop the climate crisis, but there are things we can do. We asked experts what they do in their daily lives to make a difference.

in Washington, Published:

As the climate crisis intensifies, scientists and experts agree that systemic change is critical. But while individual efforts alone aren’t enough to reverse global heating, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do. We asked several climate scientists and advocates about individual actions that can make a difference.

What’s one thing you do in your day-to-day life to combat the climate crisis?

Katharine Hayhoe, atmospheric scientist: I have transitioned over 80% of the talks I give to virtual online events (100% these days!), and when I do travel, I bundle my requests and commitments such that I am doing anywhere from 4-5 to as many as 15-25 events in each location that I fly to, in order to minimize the carbon footprint of each individual event.

Adrienne Hollis, climate justice and health scientist: I am being mindful about the water shortage. I like to plant around my deck, and I use my rain barrel to water my plants. It’s a small thing, and it’s a big thing. I get up at about 6 to water my plants, and I grow my herbs and peppers. It makes me feel like I am making a difference. And feeling like you’re making a difference is important. It’s finding your way of contributing. It makes you feel like you’re a part of the fight.

Sonia Aggarwal, energy policy expert: I recently found a great deal on a gently used electric car, and I have been loving it for those essential trips when I can’t walk, bike or use public transit. One thing I didn’t expect: this electric car is the most fun to drive! It’s peppy and quiet and it just feels so good to breeze right past the gas station without a second thought.

Michael Mann, climatologist: I speak out about the climate crisis, and the importance of taking action, using every medium, vehicle, forum or platform that is available to me.

What can I do in my personal life to address the climate crisis?

Catherine Flowers, environmental justice leader: Use less plastic or no plastic, recycle, eat less meat, reduce our own carbon footprint, build better – there are lots of things we can do. Don’t buy unsustainable products, choose something else. That’s the quickest way to get people to change is to make another choice, then of course the market will adjust.

Aggarwal: Home energy use is responsible for 20% of US greenhouse gas emissions, between the electricity we use and the fuels we burn on site. There are some cool new technologies out there that can support the same or better service at home, while reducing energy use and emissions. Those include super-efficient heat pumps and new induction stoves that are safer than gas and offer the same or better temperature control. Many utilities and states offer rebates for appliances like these.

Klaus Jacob, geophysicist: It’s fine to put solar panels on our roofs and take only a three-minute shower instead of a 10-minute shower. But what is really needed is that the individuals participate and communicate in neighborhood actions where you have the best chance to make a difference.

I live in a small village on the Hudson river. As sea level rises, so does the Hudson. Over the last two decades, I have made sure that our village is one of the most aware that it is losing a good portion of its housing before the year 2050. We already have flooding on our streets.

Read On…

Jubilee for the Earth – Season of Creation in Earth Day’s 50th Year

The Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together. During the Season of Creation, we join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home.

Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for creation for the Orthodox in 1989. In fact, the Orthodox church year starts on that day with a commemoration of how God created the world.

The World Council of Churches was instrumental in making the special time a season, extending the celebration from 1 September until 4 October.

Following the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I and the WCC, Christians worldwide have embraced the season as part of their annual calendar. Pope Francis made the Roman Catholic Church’s warm welcoming of the season official in 2015.

In recent years, statements from religious leaders around the world have also encouraged the faithful to take time to care for creation during the month-long celebration.

The season starts 1 September, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations.

Throughout the month-long celebration, the world’s 2.2 billion Christians come together to care for our common home.

For Questions or Resources for participating in the Season of Creation, visit www.SeasonofCreation.org.

Read Pope Francis’ remarks for this Day or Prayer for Creation 2020 – Season of Creation in Earth Day’s 50th Year

“Jubilee for the Earth”

Each year, the ecumenical steering committee suggests a theme to unify Christian communities in their celebration of the season.

For the 2020 Season of Creation, the suggested theme is “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”

This year, amid crises that have shaken our world, we’re awakened to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and each other.

During the season this year, we enter a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth, that requires radically new ways of living with creation.

Christians around the world will use this period to renew their relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment.

This year’s Season of Creation is a time to consider the integral relationship between rest for the Earth and ecological, economic, social, and political ways of living.

This particular year, the need for just and sustainable systems has been revealed by the far-reaching effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We yearn for the moral imagination that accompanies the Jubilee.

As followers of Christ from around the globe, we share a common role as caretakers of God’s creation. We rejoice in this opportunity to care for our common home and the sisters and brothers who share it.

More information, including a dozen ideas for ways to celebrate the season, is here.