Earth day 2021, Biden's Climate Summit & How to be Animal

The newsletter for people "woke" on carbon and climate.

(artist: Matt Davies)

Issue No.74

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for people “woke” on carbon and climate. 

With Earth Day on the horizon, I want to take a moment to reflect on our current fascination with colonizing Mars. Earth is a beautiful planet, full of life and everything humans need to be happy. Mars has an atmosphere that is 95% carbon dioxide and 0.174% oxygen. Ironically, if we fail to reduce our carbon emissions on Earth, we won’t need to go to Mars - Earth will become like Mars.

Credo: Let’s get Earth right first.

Earth Day is this Thursday, April 22, 2021.

The theme of this year's Earth Day is “Restore our Earth,” and focuses on reducing our environmental footprint and fixing the damage humans have already caused.

Earth Day was founded in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues, and Earth Day 2021 is the holiday's 51st anniversary. The holiday is now a global celebration that’s sometimes extended into Earth Week, a full seven days of events focused on green living.

The brainchild of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) and inspired by the protests of the 1960s, Earth Day began as a “national teach-in on the environment” and was held on April 22 to maximize the number of students that could be reached on university campuses. By raising public awareness of pollution, Nelson hoped to bring environmental causes into the national spotlight.

The Earth Day Network (EDN) collaborates with more than 17,000 partners and organizations in 174 countries. According to EDN, more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities, making it “the largest secular civic event in the world.”

The covid-19 pandemic has given us time to pause and reflect on just how environmentally damaging our lifestyles may be. We discovered that many of our customs and habits were carbon rich and unnecessary, thus we have determined to reduce or eliminate them.

This week, we encourage our readers to commit to one action that will reduce your environmental footprint in support of earth day (e.g., try a meatless meal, do your laundry using cold water, turn off your thermostat and enjoy the spring temperature variations). What you do matters - send me a note if you take up this challenge and we’ll post it next week’s newsletter.

If you have an opinion on any topic covered in this newsletter, please feel free to send me an email at mcleodwl@carboncreed.com. 

Thank you for your viewpoint and the value of your time.

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QUOTES

Climate quotes and sayings that will inspire you

“Men argue. Nature acts.” ~ Voltaire

Creed: A word of advice for the world leaders attending the White House Leaders Summit on Climate.

(source: Carolina Women)

“Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don't need a diploma to plant a tree.” ~ Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Activist and Author

Wangarĩ Muta Maathai was a Kenyan social, environmental, and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. Maathai was an elected member of the Parliament of Kenya and served as assistant minister for environment and natural resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki. 

“If you are thinking one year ahead, sow seed. If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree. If you are thinking 100 years ahead, educate the people.” ~ Chinese proverb

Credo: To survive climate change, we must educate the people.


BOOKS

How to be Animal

Written by Melanie Challenger

“Why do humans consider themselves separate from the animal kingdom, and what are the implications of that?” That is the central question posed in the book “How to be Animal” by Melanie Challenger, a British environmental philosopher.

Challenger opens with paradoxes: “The world is now dominated by an animal that doesn’t think it’s an animal. And the future is being imagined by an animal that doesn’t want to be an animal.” Yet recognition of our roots in nature is essential to a healthful relationship with a world that we have treated poorly for most of our history. The belief that humans are superior to other animals, Challenger writes, has led to climate change, which puts all life in danger, as well as technological breakthroughs that allow humans to transform life, such as by cloning pets to “assuage the muddled grief of their owners.”

Challenger proposes ways to retool our thinking, including recognizing the emerging fact that animals possess consciousness (whales dream, wolves carry mental maps in their heads, and so forth) and acknowledging that “the human form of consciousness and its capacity to deliver meaning” doesn’t negate the natural world’s “spectacle of richness.”

She calls for humans to get back in touch with the “blunt realities of being an animal” and offers plentiful examples of animal ingenuity and complexity—such as the problem-solving capabilities of ants, and sea sponges that find means to outlast pollution—to illustrate that intelligence isn’t a strictly human phenomenon.

Much as we might wish to separate ourselves, Challenger writes, there are definite aspects of animal behavior at work among our kind. “That we give each other love and support is a condition not of our rationalizing, but of our compulsions as animals.” Many of the tensions we experience derive from the dissonance inherent in being a predator with a rich moral faculty,” she observes, wanton killers of nearly every other being on the planet while knowing that we are doing wrong.

Impassioned and intelligent, this is a book with the possibility to change minds.


INSIGHTS/INTERNATIONAL POLICY

White House hosts Earth Day Summit on Climate with World Leaders

President Biden hopes to show the world that the United States is ready to be a leader again in combating climate change.


President Biden has invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate he will host on April 22- 23, 2021.  The virtual Leaders Summit will be live streamed for public viewing.

The Leaders Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action.  It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.  A key goal of both the Leaders Summit and COP26 will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach.  The Summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.

By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.  In his invitation, the President urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.

The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP.  The President also invited the heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy.  A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the Summit.

What have top emitters pledged so far?

China. Last year, Xi announced that top emitter China is aiming for carbon neutrality—meaning the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere equals or exceeds that which is emitted—by 2060. Beijing also pledged to reach peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and have renewable energy sources account for 25 percent of its total energy consumption by 2030. However, China has yet to formally submit its new NDCs.

United States. Behind only China in emissions, the United States left the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration but rejoined earlier this year. It previously committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from its 2005 level by 2025. U.S. officials are reportedly considering cutting emissions by double that amount by 2030 as part of its new NDCs. Biden has also vowed to work toward making the United States carbon neutral by 2050.

European Union. The world’s third-largest emitter, the EU already submitted its updated NDCs [PDF], which sets a goal of cutting emissions by 55 percent of its 1990 level by 2030, higher than its original target of 40 percent. Like the United States, it aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. Experts point out that even with their updated NDCs, the EU and China are not on track to avoid 1.5°C warming.

India. In its original NDCs [PDF], India—the fourth-largest emitter—pledged to have renewable energy sources account for 40 percent of its total electricity generation by 2030 and to significantly boost forest coverage. It also aims to reduce its emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP), a ratio known as emissions intensity, by 33 to 35 percent from its 2005 level. New Delhi hasn’t yet submitted an updated target.

Key themes of the Summit will include:

  • Galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach.

  • Mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts. 

  • The economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy.

  • Spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.

  • Showcasing subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience.

  • Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net zero by 2050 goals. 


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