Solar energy is the poster-child of the new, environmentally friendly, economically feasible world of the 21st century. Lightning-fast technological innovation in the private sector and complementary government tax credits have brought about the rapid ascent of the low-impact energy source, much to the chagrin of oil and gas executives.
It’s been a few weeks since the announcement of the “historic” COP21 agreement, wherein a majority of the world settled on goals for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Since then, I’ve been asked by countless family members at holiday gatherings how my experience in Paris was and what I think of the agreement that came out of the conference. I’ve struggled to convey my feelings to them, unsure of how to put into words the mixed feelings I have about COP21.
“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.
Contemporary American culture idolizes the wilderness, but how exactly do we protect this Eden-like places? As public sentiment shifted to the protection and conservation of these Eden-like refuges against human contamination, a vast array of different (and often conflicting) conservation development approaches began to emerge. Currently, there is a global trend towards conservation development and a variety of different approaches have emerged.
In the aftermath of COP21, the conversation is dominated by talk of INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), emissions reductions, and energy transitions, and while these are some of the most important steps to achieving the goals laid out by the Paris Agreement, they definitely don’t tell the full story.
When it comes to climate change, Christians get a bad rap.
Studies continue to indicate that in America — and particularly on Capitol Hill — conservative religiousity is closely linked to doubt on climate science. Yet there is a growing cohort of faith groups that seeks to overturn this stereotype.
I didn’t find out for quite some time that being a vegetarian actually helps the environment. It was only after watching Food Inc. that I realized how much energy it takes to produce meat and how harmful it is to the environment. Before that, I never cared where my food came from. And most of us still do not consider it. Maybe we just don’t know because there is no transparency within this industry. Maybe it is because we have heard rumors about what goes on behind our food production, but we just do not want to know. It is only natural.
Although protecting the wilderness has become the status quo in many communities around the world, have you ever stopped to take a moment to question how we got here?
International climate change negotiations are a painfully slow process. Any observer present at COP21 could attest to that. The recently signed accord in Paris, decades in the making, took thirteen days of relentless deliberation among 195 countries, and even then was only signed at the last second — the evening on the day after the official end of the conference.
Knowing how sluggish these things can be, the conference organizers even preemptively booked the Le Bourget negotiation space for a week after the conference ended, just in case.
Something really exciting happened at COP21, and it wasn’t the actual climate deal. Don’t get me wrong, the Paris Agreement is historic and a good first step in the right direction, but something happened in Paris that is much more significant and carries a lot more hope for the future of the planet.