People working together for peace, justice and the restoration of the community of life.
Nevada County Climate Change Coalition
Earth Justice Ministries has been raising awareness, taking action on climate change, and working for climate justice for many years. The term climate justice acknowledges that wealthier nations have emitted most of the greenhouse gas emissions that are currently in the atmosphere, while people in poor and vulnerable regions of the world suffer the effects of climate change first and worst. According to the Global Justice Ecology Project:
“The heart of climate justice is the understanding that the urgent action needed to prevent climate change must be based on community-led solutions and the well-being of local communities, Indigenous Peoples and the global poor, as well as biodiversity and intact ecosystems. Climate justice is the understanding that we will not be able to stop climate change if we don’t change the neo-liberal, corporate-based economy which stops us from achieving sustainable societies. It is the understanding that corporate globalization must be stopped.”
Our goals in working for climate justice are: 1) to affirm God's love for our human family, for all creatures, and for all generations 2) to take action on behalf of current and future victims of climate change; 3) to act in solidarity with people in poor regions and developing nations who are most vulnerable to climate change impacts and least responsible for the changing climate; 4) to join with the many young people who are urging their religious institutions, colleges, and universities to take strong action to alleviate the dangers of accelerating climate change, especially by withdrawing financial support from fossil fuel production.
The Nevada County Climate Coalition is made up of individuals and groups concerned about the effects of climate change locally and around the world. Our Purpose is to organize a network of local groups that can 1) Stay informed, educate, and update members about local issues and actions related to climate change; 2) Stay connected and coordinate actions with national and global grassroots organizations addressing climate change; 3) Plan local actions that will help raise awareness, defeat denial, spread truth, and limit greenhouse gas emissions locally and on a larger scale; 4) Support local adaptation to climate change; 5) Take action to influence climate policy at the national level.
Stay connected and updated by "liking" the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition FaceBook page. General Meetings are at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains, 246 S. Church Street, Grass Valley. The theme of the meeting is announced on the Facebook page.
Earth Justice Ministries, together with the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition, are supporting the pledge of resistance to the Keystone XL Pipeline. Over 40,000 people have signed the pledge so far, and nonviolence trainings are taking place all over the country. Find out more about the Keystone XL resistance actions and sign the pledge of resistance.
A Warming Earth
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), corresponding to a rise in average global temperatures. For the first time in 650,000 years, levels of CO2 have gone above 300 parts per million (ppm).[i] In 2013 we passed the 400 ppm mark. If CO2 emissions continue to rise at the current rate, we could hit 600 ppm by the end of this century, causing global temperatures to rise accordingly.[ii]
According to NASA, , with the exception of 1998, the ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 2000 [iii] Last year, 2014, was the hottest year ever recorded.[iv] On every continent there have been record-breaking extreme weather disruptions, including heat waves, extended droughts, wildfires, excessive rainfall, typhoons, hurricanes, and floods. Species of plants and animals are migrating as the climate changes, while those that can’t migrate become extinct. Disease patterns are shifting. The oceans are acidifying and heating up; heat is even moving to the deepest parts of the oceans. Arctic sea ice and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are melting faster than ever before, raising sea levels. Droughts are resulting in shortages of water and in the loss of crops, causing food prices to rise.[v]
Since some climactic changes are already locked in, and since feedback loops speed up warming, we are almost certain to reach a 2°C (3.6°F) level of warming within a few decades.[vi] Meanwhile, fossil fuel use is accelerating and GHG emissions continue to rise. The World Bank predicts an almost certain rise in global temperatures to at least a 2°C, up to 4°C or even 6°C in this century if we don't take big steps to limit emissions now. [vii]
The World Bank report, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” warns of the effects of a rapid and dramatic rise in global temperatures. Sea levels will likely rise by one meter (over three feet) by 2010, and will rise several meters more in the next century, as ice sheets the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets continue to melt. Continued rapid warming and acidification of the oceans will have profound negative impacts on marine species, including coral reefs, and entire ocean ecosystems. [viii]
Land ecosystems will also be dramatically altered, including desert and coastal ecosystems, grasslands and forests (including tropical rain forests). The cryosphere (areas of permafrost, snow, and ice) have begun to melt further releasing additional greenhouse gasses that they have sequestered in their historic frozen state. Higher temperatures will lead to increasing aridity and drought in many regions of the world. Heat waves, wildfires, droughts, storms, floods, and other forms of extreme weather will become more frequent and intense. [ix]
Greenhouse gases are cumulative in the upper atmosphere. Wealthier nations, particularly the United States, that have been industrial economies much longer than poorer nations, are therefore responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that are now causing climate change. Poor nations, and poor people within nations, are less able to adapt to rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events.
As global temperatures rise, every place on earth will be affected by dramatic changes brought by climate change, but the poorest regions will suffer its most severe effects. Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and South Asia will be particularly hard hit. Drought and water shortages will affect agricultural production of basic crops like rice, maize, and wheat, raising food prices and affecting food security. Low-lying regions and island nations are especially vulnerable to disastrous flooding in the event of tidal waves, hurricanes, monsoon, or other serious storms. Small islands are in danger of being submerged. Some vulnerable countries and communities face multiple threats, compounding their risks.[x]
Climactic changes will make it harder to eradicate poverty and establish a path of sustainable development. Socio-economic systems will be severely taxed. Some regions will experience a mass exodus of people, while others will see waves of climate refugees.[xi] Ministries of hospitality and welcome for immigrants will be increasingly taxed by waves of environmental refugees who are fleeing from regions that are submerged by rising seas or made uninhabitable by extreme storms or drought.
Rationale for Divesting from Fossil Fuels
The primary rationale for creating a fossil fuels investment screen is this: So far, mean global temperatures have risen 0.8°C (1.4°F) since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, causing far more damage than predicted.[xii] Scientists warn that any warming above a 2°C rise would be dangerous, and governments of the world have agreed to work together to limit warming to that level. [xiii] Scientists estimate that humans can emit roughly 565 more gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere and still have some reasonable hope of staying below 2°C. But proven coal, oil, and gas reserves, mostly held by fossil-fuel companies, total about five times that amount--2,795 gigatons of CO2. If companies extract and burn all these reserves, there will be no way to limit warming to 2°C, and we will have runaway climate change. [xiv][xv]
There is also a financial case to be made for divestment. There is a risk of sharp losses in the value of stocks held by fossil fuel companies based on an over-valuation of these reserves, which will be unburnable if international agreements to hold warming to 2°C are honored. If the world transitions to less polluting and more sustainable forms of fuel, this “carbon bubble” could burst, leaving the unburnable carbon as a “stranded asset.”
Regardless of profitability, we should not want to profit from companies whose products when fully exploited are dangerous. "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage.” See the following links to find out more about divesting from fossil fuels:
Climate change is a global problem, so we need to think globally and act locally. We need to imagine what we could do if it were politically possible. For instance,
We could stop subsidizing fossil fuels, shift all that money and invest it in energy conservation and renewable energy.
We could stop using the U.S. military to preserve access to oil.
We could engage in good-faith negotiations toward an international treaty with binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
We could put a price on carbon and return the proceeds to the people, to offset rising fuel prices.
These choices are necessary, but are not politically possible at this time. This brings us to the greatest challenge of all: the system that produces climate change must itself be changed. As Bill McKibbon said, "You're not a member of the Resistance just because you drive a Prius. You don't need to go to jail but you do need to do more than change your light bulbs. You need to try to change the system that is raising the temperature, the sea level, the extinction rate--even raising the question of how well civilization will survive this century."
The challenge is huge! Not only do we face the potential for out-of-control climate change, but also a system of government that is dominated by global corporations and subject to ideologues, with both parties entrenched in the status quo. Furthermore, climate change is a global problem, and will take global cooperation to solve The current global system, based on unrestrained free-market capitalism, ruled by trade agreements that promote corporate interests and enforced by police and military power is at odds with the movement of life and love and hope that can carry us into a sustainable future.
The global economy is not designed to promote peace, to preserve the gifts of creation, or to meet human need. It's designed to exploit the earth's resources and human labor and to deliver the earth's riches to the powerful few. That's why signs at demonstrations say, "System change, not climate change."