Week of December 15, 2019


The Climate talks that were scheduled to take place in Chili the fist two weeks in December were moved to Madrid because of political unrest in Santiago, the city that was to be the host.  This week will focus on financial and policy issues geared to move the world’s leaders toward the Paris Accord’s goals of less that 1.5 C increase in global warming. The first week heard pleas from the scientists worried about the health of the oceans of the world and the plight of indigenous peoples as they strive toward adapting to the climate crisis.  Many communities of indigenous people are suffering the brunt of change many times more severe than other communities. The scientists present for the talks reported that Greenhouse gas emissions had risen by 0.6% over last year. This was a slightly lower rate of increase, but is not expected to continue. In fact, the US, China and other countries are set to gear up fossil fuel production in the future and by 2030 could exceed the Paris Accord’s goals set for their countries from 50 % to 120%.  Although there are political, business and scientific representatives at these talks from the US, the lack of official US leadership is very disheartening. Perhaps, the most important news to date from the COP 25 Summit has been the Global Compact concerning the future health of the oceans of the world. This Ocean Compact sets out 5 challenges: To study and form guidelines for the sustainability of the food sources from the oceans, to map the ocean (only 5% has been completed), to study the potential of the oceans of the world for production of electricity in a sustainable manner, to make and enforce carbon emission reductions in shipping and in travel on the oceans, and finally to reduce the tremendous problem of waste in our oceans (pesticides, fertilizers, garbage, trash and a huge volume of plastics from flip flops to micro-fibers). This is a good beginning, as our oceans not only feed us, but also are a carbon sink for green house gasses.

What can we do besides being informed citizens, advocates for the environment and active voters?  We can cut our use of plastics of all kinds. First on the list, of course, is to carry a reusable water container and say no to bottled water and plastic straws.  We can buy less plastic wrapped items, store our leftovers in glass containers, and remember to bring our reusable bags to the grocery store. At this tie of year, we can resist the temptation to over buy (especially plastic based toys and gifts).  These actions may seem small but add up when most of us are aware of our actions.

EARTH STEWARD ACTION:  Decide to carry with you a tote bag for small purchases and a kit with a metal straw and eating utensils.  Don’t end up using plastic unnecessarily.

SOURCES:  https://www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/ocean, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-greta, https://www.guardian.org/cop25-talks