“Just keep it up. You’re doing the Lord’s work, and we’re going to win this thing together,” proclaimed a U.S. Senator in Paris during COP21. Ironic as it may be, these words were not those of a delegate in the COP21 negotiations nor those of a protestor in the streets of the French capitol. They were the words of Oklahoman Senator Jim Inhofe at a "counter-conference" for climate change deniers.
For so long, the climate movement was simply about carbon, parts per million, and degrees of warming. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — those data are vitally important to understanding the climate crisis. But science alone is not enough to inspire people to action. How do you make people care about climate change through facts and statistics? Increasingly, climate activists are answering: You don’t. They’re popularizing an interesting alternative, by making people care about climate change through art.
Imagine an earthquake has destroyed your house, leveled the homes of all your neighbors. The nearest clinic, which is not very near at all, has suffered structural damage, and landslides make the roads nearly impassible. Even more importantly, the clinic is without electricity and has no mechanism of back-up power.
In the past few days here in Paris, there’s been excitement about the possibility of including mention of a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature limit in the COP21 agreements, a shift from the historical limit of 2 degrees endorsed by most developed nations.
The Faces of Solar at COP21 (see part I)
Laura Stachel: Eliminating Childbirth Mortalities in Underserved Countries
In 2008, Dr. Laura Stachel traveled to northern Nigeria on a graduate research project. She spent two weeks observing care in a hospital as a part of a research program through University of California, Berkeley. As an obstetrician, her original purpose was to examine how to lower the staggeringly high rates of maternal death.
That unifying moment that we’ve waited for has arrived: the moment that division and fear do not guide our behavior but, rather, hope and science coalesce to ignite a societal shift toward sustainability and justice. The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), the United Nations Climate Negotiations, can be the foundation for such a collective movement for real change. Historically, human civilization has been divided.
“Take action.” These are the two words young people are most frequently met with when we ask what we can do about climate change. These are also two of the most frustrating words in the English language. What does “taking action” really mean? Considering the urgency and scale of catastrophic climate change, what can young people do to make a significant difference, and push for the sort of bold solutions we need to protect the one planet we have?
Within moments of stepping into the grand doors of Le Petit Palais for the COP21: Earth to Paris event, a gust of innovation and a spirit for change was quickly noticeable. Standing next to the likes of environmental activist Alec Baldwin, Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and renowned primatologist Jane Goodall was both humbling and frightening. The question quickly hit me: What am I doing here?
As I sit in Le Petit Palais at the UN Foundation’s “Earth to Paris” — a convergence of influential climate speakers — it doesn’t feel so petit to me. Pink lights cascade across the ornate and painted ceiling, which looms dozens of feet high. Voices of inspiration reverberate through the hall as speakers address eager ears, all talking about the importance of climate action.