Eyes on Paris: Weekly Photo Challenge

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The first week of the Paris Climate Talks started five days ago, on Monday.  As the talks opened, Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister,  reminded delegates:

“The eyes of the world are upon us.”

Others echoed this theme:

“I have my #eyesonParis.” Naomi Klein tweeted

“Let there be no doubt.  The next generation is watching what we do”.  President Obama declared.

“The eyes of millions of people are on you not just figuratively, but literally.”  Christiana Figueres, Head of UNFCCC,  proclaimed.

These metaphoric quotes were gathered in an entertaining article by The Guardian:  COP21: the best metaphors from the Paris climate talks.

Have you seen the #EyesonParis trend, launched on Twitter, with people posting eye selfies to show that they are watching the progress of the negotiations?

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For the photo challenge, I edited a picture of my eyes, taken while I was trying on glasses in January.  Trust me, I tried to take a selfie today, but lack of skill and photogenicity (my word) led to dismal results.

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And then there was the #Zero by 2050 action organized by SustainUS and youth delegates.  The campaign is for zero carbon emissions by 2050 to keep global warming below 2ºC.  I heard about it through the Canadian Youth Delegation.  They posted the following photo on Twitter showing their symbolic action:  painting a large zero around one of their eyes:

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This post is a submission to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Eye Spy’.  The cat photo was taken and edited by Ontheland.wordpress.com.

17 #GlobalGoals, SDGs 2015

What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve.

∼Norman Vincent Peale

Have you heard about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?   You may hear more about them over the next two weeks, as they are the language of global change:

 There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 3 overall aims:
"End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate
change" by 2030.
--adopted by 193 UN members in September 2015.

Here is a visual summary (I wish it was more readable):

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Readable details from a UN fact sheet:

  1. End Poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  2. End Hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Ensure Health and Well-Being for all.
  4. Quality Educationinclusive, equitable, and lifelong.
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation Services for all.
  7. Access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable Clean Energy for all (1 in 5, globally, lack access to electricity).
  8. Economic growth and decent employment.
  9. Resilient Infrastructure and sustainable industrialization.
  10. Reduce inequalities.
  11. Make Cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (By 2030, almost 60% of the world population will live in cities. Cities account for 75% of carbon emissions, but have great potential for conservation and efficiency).
  12. Sustainable consumption and production (reduce waste of food, water, energy, and natural resources).
  13. Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
  14. Conserve oceans, seas, and marine resources.
  15. Protect life on land: manage forests, combat desertification, halt land degradation and biodiversity loss.
  16. Peace, Justice, and strong institutions.
  17. Strengthen partnerships for fulfilling the goals.

The goals sound both wonderful and overwhelming.  They are stars on the horizon for governments, non-profit groups,and individuals. Their success is closely connected to the level of commitment achieved at the Paris climate talks over the next two weeks (Nov 30 to Dec 11). Funding is of course a big concern, especially for less wealthy nations.

I like goal number 12 because it addresses the fact that current rates of consumption and waste, particularly in the industrialized portion of the world, are unsustainable.  I am guessing that we need an overall adjustment, in which some of us reduce our materialism, and others gain improvements, such as clean water, food, electricity, and toilets.

If you’re interested in all this, there is a GlobalGoals app.  I just downloaded it so I can’t offer an assessment yet.  On Twitter, check out: #globalgoals, #action2015, @The Global Goals, and @UNFCCC.

A Prayer for Peace is a Prayer for #COP21

A vision:

We envision a world transformed by an awareness of the true potential of every human being, where all of life is sacred and where all our social systems work in harmony with the earth. We see a world in which conflict rarely occurs, and when it does, can always be addressed by the creative energy of nonviolence. In this world, unarmed peacekeeping has replaced military intervention, restorative justice has replaced retribution, and needs-based economies have replaced consumerism, among other essential changes.

From Mission Statement of the Metta Center for Non-Violence

Recently I have been browsing the words of peace activists. It’s as if I’ve been awakened from a slumber.  I care about many issues, but like most people cannot possibly absorb and read about everything. In the last five years I’ve chosen the environment as my main area of focus, simply because I see our planet as a home base, needing to be protected from the effects of human pollution.

I have always been in favour of World Peace.  Who isn’t?  The question though is: ‘How do we achieve it—through weapons and force, or through more subtle means?’  A non-violent approach would be to consider reasons underlying human conflict.  Hungry, sick, abused people don’t get along, and they are vulnerable to those with weapons, seeking power.  Poverty, lack of clean water, unemployment, social injustices, illiteracy, and so on undermine a peaceful world.

Climate change researchers have been saying for years that climate stressors, such as drought, flooding, high temperatures, torrential storms, etc. will promote social and political instability.  This is exactly what happened in Syria. It is difficult for historians to pinpoint precise causes, but they do identify factors, and a factor that clearly contributed to the conflict in Syria today is the severe drought that region suffered from 2006 to 2010. There were major crop failures, sky-rocketing food prices, and massive migration from rural to urban areas.

The international climate talks known as ‘COP 21’, will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11, despite heightened security concerns.  The ‘show’ must go on and world leaders know this.  Recent acts of terror and the Syrian refugee crisis only emphasize the urgency of promoting global peace and stability.

The climate talks are about binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Action is needed to prevent an irreversible tipping point, when devastating climate changes will render some locations uninhabitable.  The talks are also about providing assistance to developing nations:  for sustainable development with clean renewable technologies; and for climate change adaptation.  All of these issues must be attended to—to gain and preserve peace.

Friday Fact Feature–Moon’s Atmosphere

Happy Friday! On Fridays for the next while, I will be featuring a fact, a blog, or both. We’ll see how it goes. Today I came across a fact that tickled my interest:

The moon has no atmosphere to shield it from the sun’s heat or to retain the sun’s warmth–this means that during the day it is very hot, at about 100° C and at night it is very cold at about -150°C.

I guess I knew there was no oxygen on the moon, but I had never thought about temperature.  This ‘fact’ came from Stephen Leahy’s article, Global Warming Explained in 60 Seconds or Less.  In this very short post, he uses his skills as an award-winning environmental journalist, to provide a clear explanation of global warming. His description of temperatures in an atmosphere-free environment provides an excellent contrast to the situation here on earth where we have many atmospheric gases.

I’ll say no more, except: having a clear understanding of the relationship between extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming could be useful, as conversations about climate change pick up at home, on television, and at work–especially in December, when the Paris Climate talks take the stage.

Stephen Leahy is based near Toronto, Ontario.  His most recent honour was to receive the Lane Anderson Award for the best science writing in Canada in 2014–for his book: Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products.  For his writeup on this book, see his post,  Best Science Book of the Year: Your Water Footprint.  I’ve added this book to my Amazon wish list.

‘Love song to the earth’ Limerick—#sharethelovesong

'Love song to the earth' you're our
Anthem, letter, pop star choir,
Tell us, we won't chafe,
How do we keep this planet safe?
Tell the truth, what must transpire?

2 degrees global warming almost here today,
Rising coastal floods taking homes away,
Droughts, wildfires,
Military strife, hunger pyres,
Nations cry: 'Keep climate change at bay'.

People everywhere show eco smarts,
Conserve and care for earth with eager hearts,
Companies going green,
Municipal action often seen,
Now's the time: Global leaders, please step up and do your part.



This multi-verse limerick was guided by the Day 4 prompt for Writing 201. The theme was ‘Imperfection’, the form was  limerick, and the poetic device suggestion was enjambment. The topic of this poem is ‘Love song to the earth’ released in September 2015. It’s an empowerment song, sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and Friends of the Earth U.S., to arouse and demonstrate public support for a bold consensus at the upcoming Paris Climate Talks. For a music video of ‘Love song to the earth’, please visit my October 7 Writers Quote Wednesday–BeWoW post or visit the official website.

©2015 All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

‘Love song to the earth’—Writer’s Quote Wednesday–#BeWoW

This is a love song to the earth,
You’re no ordinary world,
A diamond in the universe,
Heaven’s poetry to us,
Keep it safe, keep it safe, keep it safe,
‘Cause it’s our world.
See Mama earth is in a crazy mess,
It’s time for us to do our best,
From deep sea straight up to Everest,
She under crazy stress unless you wanna be motherless,
Clean heart, green heart, is the way I stress,
Speediness and too much greediness,
6 Billion people all want plentiness,
Some people think this is harmless,
But if we continue there’ll only be emptiness.

My quotes for today are from ‘Love Song to the Earth’, a charity single released on September 4, 2015.  The first section is the song’s refrain and the second is one of the verses.  The song was written by a group of writers at the request of the United Nations Foundation. There are a variety of  authorship attributions, but these names have been cited most often:  Tony Gad, John Shanks, Natasha Bedingfeld, and Sean Paul.

‘Love Song to the Earth’  is an anthem intended to increase public awareness and support for climate action as we approach the UN climate talks in Paris (November 30 to December 11).  The idea is that  general public support for climate action will motivate world leaders at the climate talks to reach a bold consensus.

Before reading more, I invite you to listen and view this beautiful lyric video starring 16 well-known pop performers, including Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi and Sheryl Crow:

The first time I listened to the song I thought it was sort of ‘soft’.  It is gentle, but I have come to like it.  I quoted the rap verse, because I feel that musically, it has the most ‘punch’–as do the words.  The gentleness of the song was intentional.  People tune out to climate change fear messages. The writers felt that appealing to feelings of love and a desire to care for our planet would be more empowering than trying to motivate with fear. I tend to agree. What are your thoughts on this?

This is more than a song, it’s a political strategy.  The song has a website: lovesongtotheearth.org  and a twitter handle: #sharethelovesong. On the website you are invited to sign a message, to world leaders attending the climate summit, saying:

“Please take a strong stand to keep Earth safe at the global climate negotiations.”

The message, with signatures, will be presented at the opening of the climate talks.  On top of all this,  any royalties from purchasing, streaming, or sharing the song will go to the United Nations Foundation in its work to promote international climate change efforts, and to Friends of the Earth U.S., for its climate change work.

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This post is being linked  to Writer’s Quote Wednesday October 7 hosted by Colleen Chesebro, author of Silver Threading.  Please follow the above link to read her launch post. As well, there are links to other Writer’s Quote Wednesday posts in the Comments section.

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And for more quotation posts, visit  Ronovan Writes #BeWoW, October 7This link will take you to a  post by Ronovan, host of #BeWoW– Be Writing on Wednesday  and Be Wonderful on Wednesday.

Impossible is Not a Fact—Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude.  

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.  

Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Nelson Mandela

Inspiring words–I discovered the first quote, while researching Christiana Figueres, leader of the United Nations climate change negotiations between  world governments.  A New Yorker journalist noticed that Ms. Figueres has a framed saying behind her desk that reads: “Impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude.” A fitting motto for someone who is passionate about fighting climate change, and whose role includes leading a team of 500 United Nations employees and hosting annual climate change conferences.

Christiana Figueres speaking at press conference at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 2012
Christiana Figueres speaking at press conference at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 2012

Christiana Figueres’ vision is clear: the world must find a way to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions.  In other words, she is not assuming that the world will be persuaded to stop growing–especially not an option for countries in poverty that need to develop.  Her vision for the future is ongoing growth, while employing energy efficiency and clean energy, rather than fossil fuels.

While Figueres is quite aware of the obstacles and the urgency of addressing climate change, she leads with positivity, patience, and understanding.  In a recent Union of Concerned Scientists Webinar, she said  that economic “self-interest is becoming a key driving force on all levels”, as are scientific and moral imperatives.  Society as a whole, not just governments, have an important role.  The climate actions of political leaders  are being driven increasingly  by businesses, scientists, faith leaders, and concerned citizens.  

How do I relate to the ‘impossible’?   I have been wondering lately if I have a dream or whether I avoid a defined vision so as to avoid failure.   Those who have been scanning my blog will know that I am quite concerned about climate change, and while I do what I can  personally, I get discouraged by the  disconnect between where society appears to be going and the information provided by science.  Nevertheless, positive changes are happening–so my current mission is to know more about them and to share through my blog and Twitter.  Besides that, I want to express myself and be heard, which means persisting with developing a blog that many people read.  I find all three of the quotes cited above personally inspiring.  Please read on for even more inspiration from Christiana Figueres.

The ultimate discovery, on my Christiana Figueres ‘investigation’ was a Commencement Speech that she made at the University of California.  In this talk she offered two guidelines for life’s journey  distilled from her personal experiences. They demonstrate her profound sense of purpose and vision, determination, optimism, and patience:

Create Your Own Reality:

Decide to consciously exercise the power to create your own reality. The quality of your life is not determined as much by what happens to you but rather by how you react to what happens.
Go with the determination to create the reality you want for yourselves, for your society and for your century.

 

Let the Full Plan Unfold Gradually:

Discover the joy in every individual experience in your life, and have the patience to let the full plan unfold gradually.

It is not about getting to the ultimate perfect destination right away, it is more about fully appreciating each stop along the way, and knowing that each stop has a lesson to be learned, a skill to be honed. Eventually you will be able to connect the dots, even if those connections are not evident from the start.

Sources:

The Weight of the World by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, August 24, 2015.

Christiana Figueres Commencement Ceremony Speech, University of California, San Diego, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.  June  13, 2015

imageThis post is being linked  to Writer’s Quote Wednesday September 23 hosted by Colleen Chesebro, author of Silver Threading.  Please follow the above link to read the launch post. As well, there are links to other Writer’s Quote Wednesday posts in the Comments section.