You might think that Climate Change is something happening somewhere else. It’s not, it is right here already. The hundreds of people who gathered in Howick last weekend were determined that our leaders got the message, raising their voices in solidarity with people across the planet to say that the time for talking is way past. Act Now, Act Fast. We have seen the impacts on our local weather, on food prices, and watched in horror as tragedies unfold across the globe. Protests began early in Mpohomneni when the Mpophomeni Conservation Group led a march along Mandela Drive. Across Africa, thousands of people called on their governments to take real action by holding the global north accountable for starting climate change, and by ditching coal and investing in clean solar and wind energy in their countries. ‘Angifun’ ifracking’ shouted a banner at the Howick March, another suggested we need ‘Farming not Fracking’. “Fracking could destroy our water resources.” Said Penelope Malinga of the Mpophomeni Conservation Group “We can’t drink gas. We need clean energy. Amandla elanga kunegas.” Fracking is a real threat in the midlands unless we reduce our energy consumption drastically. Many other banners focussed on clean energy. “It is possible to have a meaningful impact by simply focussing on your own energy consumption at home. Small changes add up to big things.” said Karen Zunckel, initiator of the KZN Midlands Green Map that lists many of the sustainable options available right here. “We have to do this, or we are stealing our children’s future.” Candy Zuma hit the nail on the head with her banner. Environmental impoverishment links directly to human suffering. At the UN Climate Summit in New York City on 23 September, Ban Ki-moon hopes to inject momentum into efforts to reach a global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015, at a conference in Paris. “Time is not on our side,” he said, “We cannot delay any more, change needs to happen now. We are the first humans to ever breathe air at 400parts per million CO2.” The People’s Climate Mobilisation and the Climate Summit in New York mark the beginning of a busy 18 months of crucial international negotiations. Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to make progress towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the global post-2015 development agenda. Three months later, the world will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty. With almost 3000 activities around the world last weekend, the sheer scale and diversity of the People’s Climate March, has shown politicians that there is a massive, energized movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis. This is true people powered movement – people from all backgrounds acting locally, mobilising their communities, shaping the future of our planet. Tafadzwa Bero of Shea O’Connor Combined commented “Imagine what this world will look like in the next 20 years? All the small changes could mean a huge impact towards reducing Climate Change.” Judy Bell Chair of the MCF concludes: This is a human rights issue, as along with global development, climate change is already starting to affect the quality of the air we breathe, as well as our capacity to provide safe drinking water and sanitation, sufficient food and secure shelter. The World Health Organisation expects there to be an additional 250 000 deaths every year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress alone. We all need to look at ways we can reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases through making responsible choices, especially regarding transport, food and energy. We must commit to becoming more informed and involved. We must take every opportunity to influence decision-making in terms of development at the local, regional and national level. This can be at home, at work, in our communities and municipalities. We must all do our bit as all the small changes will have a big impact. We consider ourselves privileged to have the source of the uMngeni River and its tributaries in the heart of the KZN Midlands. The Midlands Conservancies Forum has a water focus in all we do to help protect these water factories which sustain the flow of clean water, supporting the lives and livelihoods of 5 million people downstream. Our work involves inspiring and motivating those who live, work and play in the area to cherish the ecosystems, such as the forests, grasslands and their interdependent wildlife, that form the basis for these water-bearing life support systems. Without these natural places, which provide us with clean air and water, good soil to grow our food and raise our livestock, absorbent surfaces to attenuate the effects of flooding and drought, sinks for carbon dioxide and modulation of the extremes of temperature, our life on earth will be much shorter and less enjoyable. In order to appreciate and protect them, we need to immerse ourselves in these precious places, so go to our website and FaceBook page to find a walk to inspire you and your family. You can also find out more about the work we do and how you can become involved to make a positive change. To change everything, it takes everyone. That includes you. Stand with the hundreds of thousands of people who marched around the world to help rock world leaders into action where they have only offered words before. http://act.350.org/letter/ready-for-action/
Howick has a proud history of environmental activism. Midlands residents and visitors will join millions of people worldwide in the largest climate mobilisation event in history next month. Midlanders have participated in numerous other global events over the past few years – like 10:10:10, Moving Planet, COP17 and the Anti-GMO March.
At 10 am on 21 September 2014, we will gather in front of the Howick Falls to deliver the millions-strong call for a 100% clean future.
To all world leaders:
On September 21st, 2014, we will join the People’s Climate March, and help make it the largest mobilisation the world has ever seen on climate change. We will march to ensure that you heed our demand for urgent action to safeguard our planet, our future and all that we love.
September 21st marks the global day of action, heads of state are holding an emergency summit in New York City – chaired by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon – to discuss a unified government response to climate change. Local, national and international civil society organisations are meeting world leaders as they arrive in New York City, which will grab the attention of global media.
At the same time, thousands of petition deliveries demanding 100% clean will be held in more than 88 countries including a march right here in Howick.
Harriet Lavery-Reynders an Avaaz member from Howick says,
This climate day of action is snowballing into a massive mobilisation of millions around the world who want leaders to do more to stop runaway climate change. Midlands residents are taking part to help show the huge level of public support for a global deal that will avert climate catastrophe and unleash a new 100% clean future”
Polls show 90% of people worldwide see climate change as a serious problem. Now over a million people in the streets are making it clear that world leaders must take urgent action to stop catastrophic climate change.
Our demand is for Action Now, Not Words: take the action necessary to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet – now. In short, we want a world safe from the ravages of climate change.
We know that no single meeting or summit will “solve climate change” and in many ways this moment will not even really be about the summit. We want this moment to be about us – the people who are standing up in our communities, to organise, to build power, to confront the power of fossil fuels, and to shift power to a just, safe, peaceful world.
To do that, we need to act – together.
- Join the global day of action on September 21st for a clean future by coming along to Goddard Park near the Howick Falls. There will be face painting, personalised t shirts, kids games, environmental experts and eco-friendly products. Phone Harriet 081 013 2222 for details.
- Signing the Avaaz Petition – https://secure.avaaz.org/en/join_to_change_everything_rb/. With the simple act of adding your name you’ll be starting on a journey towards one of the defining moments in history. Our greatest hope to tackle the challenge of global warming rests with us and our ability to demand greater action from world leaders.
- Use #PeoplesClimate in your social media posts and it will automatically be added to the http://peoplesclimate.org/stories/
- Check out what is happening around the planet for extra inspiration. http://peoplesclimate.org/
To change everything, it takes everyone — let’s get started! Come on Midlands, get on your feet!
By Max Fisher, Published: October 9 in The Washington Post
Climate scientists sometimes talk about something called “climate departure” as a way of measuring when climate change has really changed things. It’s the moment when average temperatures, either in a specific location or worldwide, become so impacted by climate change that the old climate is left behind. It’s a sort of tipping point. And a lot of cities are scheduled to hit one very soon.
A city hits “climate departure” when the average temperature of its coolest year from then on is projected to be warmer than the average temperature of its hottest year between 1960 and 2005. For example, let’s say the climate departure point for D.C. is 2047 (which it is). After 2047, even D.C.’s coldest year will still be hotter than any year from before 2005. Put another way, every single year after 2047 will be hotter than D.C.’s hottest year on record from 1860 to 2005. It’s the moment when the old “normal” is really gone.
A big study, just published in the scientific journal Nature, projected that the Earth, overall, passes climate departure in 2047. The study also projects the year of climate departure in dozens of specific cities. Here, from The Post’s graphics team, is a map of their findings:
(Leonard Bernstein and Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)
The cities marked by dark red dots are projected to hit climate departure really, really soon. Bad news: Many of these are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Lagos, Africa’s largest city, with a population 21 million and rising, is already vulnerable to flooding. It’s got only 16 years before it hits climate departure. Also vulnerable are Caribbean cities such as Kingston, Jamaica, which passes the tipping point in 2023.
The light red cities have a bit more time but are some of the most worrying cases, including megacities in China and India, not to mention the major urban centers of the Middle East. Food insecurity and drought are difficult issues in many of these areas. The fact that these cities pass climate departure so soon is a scary reminder of how rapidly they’re going to feel the effects of climate change.
Temperate cities in Europe and the United States look a bit better, but we’re talking about a difference of maybe 20 years separating Western capitals from Kingston or Lagos. In the long run, 20 years is not much of a difference. The study published in Nature projects 2047 for Washington, D.C., and New York City — just 34 years from now. Los Angeles will hit the mark the next year and San Francisco the year after. Even the best-off cities, such as Moscow and Oslo, have just 50 years before passing the milestone. That feels like a long time right now, but in historical terms it’s not.
As Christopher Field, who directs the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science and was part of this study’s research team, told my colleague Lenny Bernstein, “The boundary of passing from the climate of the past to the climate of the future really happens surprisingly soon.”
The good news is that, while it’s too late to stop the world or any of its cities from passing the point of climate departure, we can slow the process — and thus significantly mitigate the effects of climate change. Here’s what that map would look like, according to the Nature study’s projections, if the world can substantially bring down carbon dioxide emissions:
(Leonard Bernstein and Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)
It looks a little better! The world average, in this hypothetical version, would pass climate departure in 2069. D.C. would pass it in 2071. As a sign of how deeply the climate is already changing, though, Kingston would still hit it in 2028 — a delay of only five years.