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      Our Mother Earth & Climate Change

      By Thomas Davies

      “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together ... all things connect.” - Chief Seattle

      Climate Change. Global Warming. Holes in the Ozone. The Big Melt. Methane Release. CO2 Emissions. Peak Oil. Carbon Tax. Climate Refugees. Acidification. Deforestation. Desertification. Extreme Weather. El Niño. Kyoto Accord. Copenhagen Summit...It can be difficult to approach what's going on with the environment of planet earth without getting overwhelmed. The bottom line is this: Human caused changes to the balance of nature are increasing, and are having such negative impacts we are in danger of damaging the balance of life enough to make the planet uninhabitable sooner rather later. This catastrophe is unnecessary, but the big business polluters who are responsible for pushing us towards this scenario take advantage of our confusion and inaction. The vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is a global emergency, but the good news is you don't have to be a scientist to understand enough about the issue to become part of the growing global movement proposing and demanding the necessary changes to save the environment and humanity at the same time.

      The Climate Crisis

      Severe and unheard of weather disasters from this summer alone are evidence that something is going terribly wrong with the environment. 99.84% of the land in California is experience drought. Massive heatwaves in Pakistan and India killed more than 3000 people. Puerto Rico went through its strictest water rationing in history. More than 100,000 people were ordered to leave their homes in Japan as torrential rains from Typhoon Etau wreaked havoc. The examples of increasingly drastic and uncontrollable weather changes are endless.

      On a broader scale, 2015 is set to beat 2014 as the hottest year on record. The rate of droughts, floods and storms is five times higher now than the 1970s. Glacier National Park in Montana now only has 25 glaciers left from 150 present in the year 1910. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting and the extent and thickness of the Arctic sea ice is decreasing. Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double of the entire century before. 27% of the world’s coral reefs have been lost to “bleaching” from increasing water temperatures. If present rates of destruction are allowed to continue, 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed over the next 30 years. Everything is connected, and it’s not difficult to see the growing chain reaction of climate catastrophes wreaking havoc on the earth.

      Of course there are human consequences to all of this as well. With continental interiors drying out, the chief scientist at the U. S. State Department in 2009 predicted a billion people will suffer famine within twenty or thirty years. The International Red Cross estimates that there are more environmental refugees than political refugees fleeing from wars and other conflicts. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says 36 million people were displaced by natural disasters in 2009, the last year such a report was taken. Scientists predict this number could rise to 200 million by 2050.

      Rising sea levels jeopardize life for millions of coastal populations. Half the population of Bangladesh lives less than 5 meters (16.5 feet) above sea level. In 1995, Bangladesh’s Bhola Island was half-submerged by rising sea levels, leaving 500,000 people homeless. Conservative scientific estimates predict Bangladesh will lose 17 percent of its land by 2050 due to flooding caused by climate change. The could create 20 million climate refugees in Bangladesh alone. What the Scientists Say – Why’s it’s Human-Made

      “One can see from space how the human race has changed the Earth. Nearly all of the available land has been cleared of forest and is now used for agriculture or urban development. The polar icecaps are shrinking and the desert areas are increasing. At night, the Earth is no longer dark, but large areas are lit up. All of this is evidence that human exploitation of the planet is reaching a critical limit. But human demands and expectations are ever-increasing. We cannot continue to pollute the atmosphere, poison the ocean and exhaust the land. There isn’t any more available.”
      - Stephen Hawking, renowned scientist (2007)

      While there a few, mostly well funded, scientists who argue that everything we’ve just described is either exaggerated or part of the normal climate cycles of planet earth. However, NASA states that “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”

      A lot of climate change is caused because of human caused carbon emissions. The David Suzuki Foundation explains this phenomenon: “- Life on Earth is possible because of the warmth of the sun. While some of this incoming solar radiation bounces back into space, a small portion of it is trapped by the delicate balance of gases that make up our atmosphere. Without this layer of insulation, Earth would simply be another frozen rock hurtling through space. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important gas in this layer of insulation.

      - Carbon is stored all over the planet — in plants, soil, the ocean, and even us. We release it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide through activities such as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and cutting down trees. As a result, today’s atmosphere contains 42 per cent more carbon dioxide than it did before the industrial era.

      - We have released so much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that our planet’s atmosphere is now like a thick, heat-trapping blanket. By disrupting the atmospheric balance that keeps the climate stable, we are now seeing extreme effects around the globe...”

      Worldwide, since 1880 the average surface temperature has gone up by at least 0.8 °C. The current mainstream scientific consensus is that a rise of more the 2°C would mean that catastrophic climate change would be inevitable. But a new draft study being published by a team of 17 leading international climate scientists warns that even 2 degrees of warming is “highly dangerous” and could cause sea level rise of “at least several meters” this century, leaving most of the world’s coastal cities uninhabitable. Unfortunately, NASA estimates that, “ In the absence of major action to reduce emissions, global temperature is on track to rise by an average of 6 °C (10.8 °F)”

      Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is also the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. According to Scientific American, “Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on business as usual emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150 percent more acidic, resulting in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.” This will destroy the entire marine life balance in ways which are difficult to even comprehend.

      Another big concern is the thaw of Arctic permafrost which contains vast quantities of CO2 as well as methane, which traps heat over 20 times more effectively than CO2. This would create what scientists call a “positive feedback” as more global warming would cause more thawing of Arctic permafrost, leading to more emissions of carbon and methane into the atmosphere, leading to more warming and more thawing of Arctic permafrost. This leads to doomsday scenario called, “Abrupt Climate Change”.

      There are countless other examples of other human caused environmental concerns which fill entire books and scientific journals: the unchecked hyper-resource extraction projects in mining, LNG and gas drilling and hydraulic fracking, holes in the ozone layer from the use of dangerous chemicals, massive deforestation, mountains of garbage...it really is impossible to deny that humans need to change the way our societies are organized in monumental ways. But where to start?

      Latin-American Shows the Way

      “Stopping climate change cannot be left to those who profit from the destruction of nature. That is why we the peoples must directly accept our own responsibility for the continuation of life and society by taking control of governments, and using that power to pressure and force government and businesses alike to take drastic and immediate measures to stop us from falling into this abyss of nature’s destruction.”
      - Bolivian President Evo Morales

      Humanity is at an pivotal time. We live on a planet which has more than enough resources to provide for everyone who lives on it. Humans have also developed technologically so incredibly that we have all of the resources available to ensure that everyone has everything they need. Yet we live in a world where the majority go hungry, war and occupation dominate the political landscape and the environment is being rapidly destroyed. As long as the primary driver of society remains profit and not people, this will continue as all other considerations are thrown into the ever growing garbage heap. Climate change is the symptom, capitalism is the problem.

      Revolutionary Socialist Cuba Shows the Way

      Cuba has been leading the way for many years now. A World Wildlife Fund study concluded Cuba is the only country in the world with both a high UN Human Development Index and a relatively small “ecological footprint”. The study concluded that if the world followed Cuba’s example we’d only need the resources of one Earth to sustain us indefinitely. This is truly amazing for a country that inhabits only 11.5 million people.

      Now across, Latin-America, Cuba is joined by countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador which are emphasizing the creation of societies and economies based on social justice and respect for the humanity and environment. They are creating their own regional organizations such as ALBA (The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) which directly challenge the United States and their big business friends. They do this by emphasizing cooperation and exchange based on mutual respect. The results have been incredible, both for people and the environment.

      President Evo Morales has also proposed a Global Referendum on Climate Change with 5 simple questions which get to the fundamentals of climate change. Enacting this referendum worldwide would be a game changer for the climate justice movement. The Global Referedum on Climate Change questions are:
      1.Do you agree with re-establishing harmony with nature while recognizing the rights of Mother Earth?
      2.Do you agree with changing this model of over-consumption and waste that the capitalist system represents?
      3.Do you agree that developed countries reduce and re-absorb their domestic greenhouse gas emissions so that the temperature does not rise more than 1 degree Celsius?
      4.Do you agree with transferring all that is spent in wars to protecting the planet and allocate a budget for climate change that is bigger than what is used for defense?
      5.Do you agree with a Climate Justice Tribunal to judge those who destroy Mother Earth?

      The Solution is International

      Large climate justice movements have also been growing around the world. The largest climate march in history happened in New York on September 21 of last year, with over 400,000 people joining the “Peoples Climate March” and over 270,000 more participating in 2000 coordinated actions in 166 countries across the globe. The actions coincided with the UN Climate Summit. The movement lives on and will join forces again on November 29, with similar actions being called around the UN Climate Summit in Paris. The stated goal is to break last year’s record of the largest climate change rally in history and “for the entire world, for the first time, to agree to the goal of a decarbonised global economy powered by clean energy.”

      Ultimately climate change is a global problem and requires a global solution. One which recognizes that developing countries and poor and working people around the world have had to suffer the greatest consequences due to the profit driven and disastrous policies of first world governments and their big business allies. When those who created the problem tell us it is impossible to fix, we must remind ourselves that if all of the resources which are today squandered and war, occupation and the obscene drive for super-profits were dedicated to creating a healthy and sustainable world we would have been able to accomplish the feat years ago. As the slogan on many signs at the Peoples Climate March said, “There is No Planet B”. We must all join the anti capitalist and climate justice movement to continue to educate, organize and mobilize until we have the planet and livelihoods we all ned and deserve.

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