Screenshot from Sept 7, 2017, 8:27 UTC, showing Hurricanes Katia, Irma, & Jose. Source: https://earth.nullschool.net/
The increase in frequency and intensity of natural disasters impacting the USA and world right now --- from the extreme wildfires in the US West, to the floods in South Asia that have killed over 1,000 and displaced 41 million people, to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma -- is a resounding clarion call for action to stabilize the climate and deepen our solidarity with marginalized, impacted communities.
While all of these disasters call our attention and call us to act, this roundup of news reports and editorials is particularly focused on how Hurricanes Harvey and Irma link to climate change and environmental justice:
Link Between Climate Change & Mega-Hurricanes
What We Know about the Climate Change–Hurricane Connection: Some links are indisputable; others are more subtle, but the science is improving all the time - Michael E. Mann, Thomas C. Peterson, Susan Joy Hassol,Scientific American, Sept 8, 2017
Hurricane Harvey Shows What Climate Disruption-Amplified Flooding Can Do - Dahr Jamail, Truth-Out, Aug 29, 2017
“Sea-surface temperatures near Texas were between 2.7° and 7.2°F above average, making them some of the warmest ocean temperatures on Earth. This caused Harvey to ramp up from a tropical depression to a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane in merely two days' time.”
Houston is experiencing its third ‘500-year’ flood in 3 years. How is that possible?-Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, Aug 29, 2017
Will Irma Finally Change the Way We Talk About Climate?- New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells, Sept 9, 2017
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) have signed on to the Lofoten Declaration for a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production around the World. The Lofoten Declaration was written in August 2017 at a gathering in the Lofoten Islands of Norway of academics, analysts, and activists, all of whom recognize that globally we have a window of opportunity – and a strategic need – to limit the expansion of the oil and gas industry, in order to achieve the Paris climate goals. We invite other organisations worldwide to join the call.
Why is it called the Lofoten Declaration? The oil industry is lobbying hard for the seas around Lofoten to be opened to oil drilling – which would be devastating to the climate and to Lofoten's natural beauty – but activists have successfully managed to block these plans for years. This strategy must be expanded around the world to oppose the oil and gas industry.
Commit2Respond is at a turning point.
Three years ago, this campaign was launched with the goal of running from the 2014 People’s Climate March through the UUA’s 2017 General Assembly in New Orleans. We wanted to find out what we could accomplish if Unitarian Universalists and like-hearted people of faith and conscience came together in new ways for climate justice.
And what an amazing three years it has been! We’ve marched, we’ve witnessed, we’ve resolved, we’ve trained, we’ve joined hands with front-lines communities, we’ve taken direct action, we’ve worshipped, and we’ve made spiritual commitments.
Now it’s time to decide what happens next.
By Aly Tharp
The Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly (GA) in New Orleans, June 21-25, 2017, was a powerful witness to the sacredness of Mother Earth and our interconnectedness as humanity and with the web of life.
In the days leading up to GA, heavy rains and strong winds of Tropical Storm Cindy poured through New Orleans, causing some to struggle with rescheduled or canceled transportation, and all to worry how the GA would whether the storm. As GA began and as Cindy made landfall, the storm reduced to a tropical depression that primarily impacted the state of Alabama. The rest of our week in New Orleans was characterized by high heat and humidity, and primarily blue skies.
In times like these, we must practice and build capacity for rapid response.
THIS IS A CALL TO ARTS:
The General Assembly (GA) of the Unitarian Universalist Association begins in 3 weeks. Part of the full program is a nine-workshop climate justice program: The Seas Are Rising and So Are We.
In many of these workshops, as well as during other special programs of the GA, visual and theater arts will be used to evoke a reverence for the earth and commitment to creating a world of environmental justice. This effort is being led by UU young adults, and invites participation from everyone.
YOU CAN HELP: We need volunteers to mobilize locally to create tree banners that will come together at GA to form an “Environmental Justice Forest”. We also need volunteers during GA to help with arts performances and logistics.
GO FORTH to March and Witness and Connect
ART HAPPENINGS, PHOTO OPS, BREAKFAST and MORE
The UU Sponsors and Volunteers, especially the folks at All Souls Unitarian, have planned exciting events to amplify your experience in Washington, D.C. Check out the Schedule of Events and plan to join in with creativity and energy to connect and plan for our future engagements.
The Commit2Respond initiative began with the People’s Climate March in New York City, in September of 2014. On April 29th, we will march again with the People's Climate Movement to show the world that we recommit to respond to the urgency of averting climate chaos. The Unitarian Universalist Association, UU Service Committee, and UU Ministry for Earth have all signed on to be partner organizations for the People’s Climate Movement. We encourage UUs to participate in the mobilization to Washington, D.C. or in a sister march in your own corner of the world.
Events for UUs in Washington, D.C. are planned all day Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30. Check out the Art Builds that are happening April 22-23 and April 26-27 and the events at All Souls' Unitarian. RSVP at the button below. If you are in the area, volunteer opportunities are available.
“I hope, with all my heart that on April 29 thousands of UUs come to Washington D.C. I yearn for a coherent UU response to climate injustice, and right after the PCM in Washington, DC there will be opportunities to build this united campaign. I believe it matters that we march; to impact government, and as faith community, to hone ourselves, and our Big Love for the world. It will be good to be together.”
Unitarian Universalists will be traveling to Washington, D.C. from all over the country and marching together in the Faith contingent of the People's Climate Movement: March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice. Check out all of these opportunities to connect and take action together:
This is an appeal for climate action following Trump's dangerous Climate Executive Order issued today. See the Climate Portal Statement at http://climate.uu-uno.org/view/article/5823c4580cf2204d222d455c/
Please call/fax your representative/senator (links below for phone #s and free fax) and urge “Oppose Trump's Climate Executive Order. Maintain U.S. Climate Action and hands off the EPA”. Act now to help stop Trump.
Please post widely.
Senate local offices: https://action.seiu.org/page/content/congressional-offices ; free fax: https://faxzero.com/fax_senate.php
Jan Dash, PhD
Get 20% Off when you use special coupon code “ClimateJustice” at the Beacon Press bookstore, and 10% of your purchase will support UU climate justice projects through the UU Ministry for Earth!
The coupon code will work with any book purchase, but here are some books we especially recommended:
Home to one of the largest oil refineries in the state, Richmond, California, was once a typical company town, dominated by Chevron. Part urban history, part call to action, Refinery Town shows how concerned citizens can harness the power of local politics to reclaim their community and make municipal government a source of much-needed policy innovation.
In this enlightening book, scholars and activists Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker tackle a wide range of myths about Native American culture and history that have misinformed generations. Tracing how these ideas evolved and drawing from history, the authors disrupt long-held and enduring myths. Accessibly written and revelatory, “All the Real Indians Died Off” challenges readers to rethink what they have been taught about Native Americans and history.
ALSO: Join the next Climate Action Roundtable (April 12 at 8pm EST) for a special chance to talk with author Dina Gilio-Whitaker!
Embrace your inner bookworm and support Commit2Respond and UU Ministry for Earth by using the discount code “ClimateJustice” at the Beacon Press bookstore!
The proposed federal budget includes seriously dangerous budget cuts to environmental justice and climate programs for the EPA, NOAA, and NASA. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the proposal "shows the Trump administration doesn't hold the same American values for clean air, clean water and healthy land as the vast majority of its citizens... Our health comes before the special interests of multibillion-dollar industries." (Source: AP, 3/3/17)
Here are some highlights of the budget cuts to the EPA:
The Environmental Justice program budget, which has historically supplied grants to 1,400 frontline communities, would be cut 78%, from $6.7 million to 1.4 million. Mustafa Ali, the director of the program for 24 years, resigned last week, saying “My values and priorities seem to be different than our current leadership and because of that I feel that it's best if I take my talents elsewhere."
Funding for restoration work in Puget Sound, the country's second-largest estuary, would be cut from $28 million to $2 million.
Funding to combat algae blooms, invasive species and other water pollution problems in the Great Lakes, the world's largest group of freshwater lakes, would be cut from $300 million to $10 million.
Funding for restoration in Chesapeake Bay, the country's largest estuary, would be cut from $73 million to $5 million.
The EPA's work studying endocrine disruptor chemicals that can interfere with the body's reproductive and developmental systems would nearly be eliminated, dropping from $7.5 million to $445,000.
$9.5 million of funding for state testing of bacteria levels at beaches around the country would be 100% eliminated.
$8.7 million annually for children's environmental education programs would be cut to $555,000.
(Source & More Info at: OregonLive.com, 3/2/17)