Solving the hardest homework in the world: Universities need a climate change cheat sheet
“Is Earth fu**ed?” So asked a provocatively titled talk at the 2012 American Geophysical Union, one of the largest gatherings of climate scientists in the world. Frankly, I think the question was rather polite. This summer alone, we’ve learned that giant craters in the thawing Siberian tundra are leaking vast quantities of powerful heat-trapping methane gas into our atmosphere; that the West Antarctic ice sheet is now irrevocably collapsing, committing the world to at least 4 feet of sea level rise – enough to drown Bangladesh; that California is suffering its worst drought in recorded history, with 82% of the state in “extreme drought” and a declared State of Emergency; and that four years of unprecedented dryness helped catalyze the violence in Syria that exemplifies why the Pentagon ranks climate change as an issue of national security. Rather polite indeed.
The SustainUS Agents of Change program has selected the SustainUS delegation for the UN climate change negotiations this November. Known officially as the 20th session of the Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention and the 10th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP20 and CMP10), the negotiations will be held in Lima, Peru from December 1 to 12, 2014. Delegates will work together and with international youth in advance of the conference to educate themselves and their communities, develop policy priorities, develop skills in effective lobbying, and engage the broader youth population in action related to international climate policy.
Meet the delegates after the jump!
This is a different type of post than anything we've posted before. But we think it's a critical one in our work to build a better world.
Two weeks ago, unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, a movement has grown calling for #JusticeForMikeBrown and an end to police violence inflicted upon communities of color.
We ask SustainUS members to stand in solidarity with the #Ferguson movement and call for racial justice in the United States. We believe truly sustainable development is impossible if communities of color in the United States continue to face police violence and systemic oppression.
Sustainable development is about more than stabilizing the climate or preserving biological diversity. At its core, sustainable development is a vision of a just world where all people, present and future, can meet their needs. The shooting of Michael Brown shows how far we are from achieving this vision.
Yesterday the Obama Administration took its largest step yet to curb dangerous carbon pollution and act on climate change. We acknowledge the President's action as a critical first step, but the Clean Power Plan is far from sufficient. The basic reality is simple: To avoid catastrophic climate impacts, we must limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius and keep over 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
The Clean Power Plan needs more ambition, particularly in its 2030 goals. SustainUS Co-Chair Matt Maiorana said: "The Administration's Climate Action Plan claims the U.S. will 'lead international efforts to combat global climate change and prepare for its impacts,' but these weak 2030 targets fall far short of what the science says is necessary. We need real aggressive action to catalyze meaningful contributions and an acceptable outcome at COP 21."
SustainUS is pleased to recognize the recent appointment of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the UN Special Envoy for Climate and Cities. We appreciate and support the United Nations’ continuing recognition of the importance of urban spaces in the fight against climate change. With over 50% of the world’s population living in cities and that number rising every day, urban policy offers an important and effective way to address issues of sustainability, development, resilience, and social justice.