15 April 2010

GreenHeart Education's Submission to World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

The most important thing for this conference to achieve is to (com)passionately back and energetically promote the Evo Morales/Bolivian position, which is the only position in the world that agrees with the science:

+1ºC, 300 ppm, zero carbon, and climate survival

We must ensure that we create a global people's movement that will call for — FIGHT FOR – a 1ºC limit to global average temperature increase (a 2ºC "target" is global suicide).

Why is a 1ºC limit vital for our survival?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) says that at +1ºC, world food production is threatened.

It has long been established that at +1ºC, food production in the global South will start to go into decline, leading to famines and mass migrations, thereby destabilizing world security.

At +1ºC, the summer Arctic sea ice will be long gone, and the winter Arctic sea ice will be melting, resulting in a catastrophic acceleration in the increase of global temperature.

At +1ºC, the already-thawing permafrost (which contains double all the carbon in the atmosphere) in the Arctic will be emitting very large amounts of methane (which has over 70 times the heating power of carbon dioxide).

At +1ºC, frozen solid methane gas (hydrate) in the Arctic seabed will melt at a rapidly increasingly rate, emitting methane into the ocean and into the atmosphere. This will result in abrupt, unstoppable, totally catastrophic global heating.

For all of humanity and for Mother Earth, we must fight with everything we have (time, skills, energy, passion, dedication, courage and social media networks) for a 1ºC limit.

1. DECLARE A GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE PLANETARY EMERGENCY. For nations to honour the terms of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, they must make a declaration that the world is far past dangerous interference with the climate, according to the clearly defined terms of the Convention.

2. EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE - In many school systems around the world, nothing has changed, even though today's students have no guarantee of a viable future. We are still teaching a 20th century curriculum based on fossil fuelled growth, expansion and "progress" (that is, UNsustainable development). Today, EVERY YOUTH on the planet has

- the right to learn the state of the planet and the risks to their future

- the right to learn the science of climate change (free from the propaganda of deniers), and

- the right to learn how to create the best possible future for themselves (growing their own food, constructing rainwater collection systems, exploring renewable and perpetual energy technologies, bonding with the rest of Nature).

We all need to demand of our education systems that they introduce policy for sustainability and climate change mitigation. All countries have education systems. Wherever possible, as many children as possible go to school. School is a common-culture-building tool. It gives us mental constructs in common — written language, math, someone's version of history, a political and "resourcist" view of geography. And analytical science/technology. So now that this kind of "get-ahead" education has contributed to making us want to always get more ... how could it teach us that we have to learn to be sustainable? And stop belching fossil fuel emissions? Most people do not make any demands of any kind on school systems for environmental content. We need to look up at these bastions of decision-making and demand that they cooperate. — Elise Houghton, Environmental Education Ontario (Canada)

3. PUBLICIZE, PUBLICIZE, PUBLICIZE - Adults who do not understand the basic science of global warming cannot understand that we are in a global climate change emergency. Yet where I live, most adults cannot explain to you the science of global warming and climate change. We have failed to pass on an understanding of the basic science to adults.

While youth can (and must) receive lessons in school, adults must receive "lessons" through the media and NGO/social movement campaigns. EVERY CITIZEN has the right to understand the truth about what is happening. EVERY ADULT should be crying out to their government leaders "What are you doing to the beloved children in my life?!" If they are not, then we have failed in our efforts to communicate and publicize the deadly threats of global warming and climate chaos.

The most important thing to publicize is the Bolivian climate change position, especially the limit (not a "target" to be strived for!) of a 1 degree Celsius global average temperature increase — and the reasons and rationale for it. THE SURVIVAL OF HUMANITY IS AT STAKE. PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD MUST LEARN THIS, HEAR THIS (OVER AND OVER), AND TAKE IT TO HEART. The Bolivian position is the only one that agrees with the science of global warming and climate change.

4. SOLUTIONS MUST NOW COME FROM THE PEOPLE. We can no longer trust governments, who are negotiating to avoid an agreement, not create one (they gave us this clear message in Copenhagen).

We have no time left, if we are to guarantee a viable, climate-safe future for humanity. We are fighting for the lives of our children. From now on, we cannot trust any solutions proposed by wealthy nations who cannot see that fighting the good climate change fight is for the common good of all life on Earth (or who can only conceive solutions that will benefit themselves financially). From now on, we can only trust initiatives and solutions proposed by the PEOPLE who stand to lose everything -- their lives and their livelihoods, their food security and water sources, their homes and their entire homelands.

If this means revolutionary measures, so be it. Certainly transformative measures are called for. But it might also mean slowing down, adopting some old traditional ways (as we also adopt en masse some new environmentally friendly technologies). We must, as rapidly as possible, transform our deadly fossil-fuelled global economy into thriving renewable/perpetual energy-based localized economies – making the world safer, cleaner, healthier, more equitable and more peaceful at the same time.

5. GET SERIOUS ABOUT SUSTAINABLE (AND NOW, SURVIVABLE) DEVELOPMENT. It is long past time for us to take sustainable development and United Nations Agenda 21 seriously. If we had adopted the radical concept and principles of sustainable development when they were presented at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, we would be well on our way to mitigating the climate change emergency by now. Dennis Meadows says it's too late for sustainable development, that we must turn our attention to "survivable development" — but the concept is the same. It means putting the children of all species first, and placing the well being of everything we cherish (our families, our communities, our sacred places, our food and water sources) at the centre of our discussions, planning and decision-making. (I remember asking the Copenhagen Climate Conference negotiators to put photographs of their children on their desks, so that they would remember whose lives they were negotiating for. They did not do that.)

6. DEMAND TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE. We must ask for what we need in order to survive the global climate change emergency: a +1ºC limit on global average temperature increases (not the deadly +2ºC "target" that has taken hold in negotiations and media reports), zero carbon and climate survival — the guarantee of a safe climate for our children.

Let us start painting the picture of the transformative changes we need. Until we start dreaming big, envisioning big, asking big, demanding big, we are not going to get the big changes – the complete conversion that we need.

7. ZERO CARBON, ZERO CARBON, ZERO CARBON – Over the last 100 years, and especially since World War 2, we have been gorging ourselves on carbon-based energy. Industrialized nations have pushed atmospheric carbon levels to the highest level they have been in 20 million years. Zero carbon technology, a zero carbon economy and virtually zero carbon lifestyles must be our goal. Anything more than zero carbon condemns our children to a future of climate hell, and threatens extinction of most life on Earth.

With "peak oil" looming, let's decide to use the last remaining easily accessible oil to move ourselves into the Golden Age of Perpetual Energy. THE BURNING AGE IS OVER! No more burning! No more fuels! (And to those who argue that they have invested money in fossil fuel developments, let us say, "Leaving the oil/gas/coal in the ground is like money in the bank. When (if) we learn how to extract and use it in climate-safe ways, you may withdraw your earnings. Until then, we will consider it a crime to profit from progenycide.")

Let us ask our friends, neighbours and relatives to envision a world lit and run by the power of the sun (photovoltaics and solar thermal), the wind, the Earth's core heat (geothermal), the tides and the waves – all the perpetual energy sources.

8. LET US STOP WORSHIPPING UNSHARED WEALTH AND START SCORNING IT. This is a simple change of mindset. We have turned personal profit, greed and usury into virtues. Let us turn them back into sins. Wealth should be a shared community asset. Let us learn from our indigenous brothers and sisters, several of whom had traditional rituals and ceremonies for the sharing of wealth.

9. COMPASSION, COMPASSION, COMPASSION – If we hold the children in our hearts, we can safeguard the future and save humanity and life on Earth. If we allow our governments and the corporations to put money first — "business as usual" — then we will fail. Compassion can be what saves us.

a. We must network with all the world's religions and spiritual traditions, as they are already walking the path of compassion — and already starting to work on climate change solutions.

b. We must all see ourselves as educators about the truth of the dangers of climate change.

c. We must see ourselves as protectors of the rights of all future generations.

d. We must be courageous and willing to make sacrifices for the sake of our children — as so many generations did before us.

e. We must green the heart of people, communities, governments and organizations everywhere.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?