UN Climate Change Conference 2017

The UN Climate Change Conference of 2017 begins today (11/6/2017)! Although President Trump has pulled the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, this is still very exciting. World leaders are converging on Bonn Germany to discuss how to mitigate the negative effects of climate change- globally- with or without US federal support.

Why is this exciting? Because even though the Trump Administration is denying climate change as a major threat to the nation’s security, the nation’s leaders in business, technology, higher education, state and local governments, tribal nations, non-profits, and faith-based organizations are not.

We Are Still In!

“In the absence of leadership from Washington, representatives of cities and states, tribes, businesses, and academia have traveled to Bonn and are standing alongside the international community to make clear that the representation of the United States extends beyond its federal government. With over 2,500 signatories representing more than 130 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of economic output, ‘We Are Still In’ is the largest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action. We invite all attendees to join them as they kick off the US non-national presence at COP 23.”

These amazing leaders are going to help the United States stay connected with the international community as we all strive to fight to reduce emissions and stave off the worst of climate change. This isn’t important just for us in the US (but, we should be concerned for our own safety, too), it’s a global crisis that can be solved collectively. To that, we could say: thank you to all of you wonderful leaders for stepping up!

Video from the Washington Post article about the newest US Climate Assessment Report.

Climate Change Opinions

Just came across this tool from Yale, the Climate Opinions Maps- 2016, and its fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Something great about the United States is that we are free to express our thoughts and ideas without fear of persecution. However, that freedom also comes with a responsibility  to be informed, ask questions, seek out truths and remain open-minded, trusting of experts but also learning for yourself.

Two words that are very important: Fact & Opinion.

fact
fakt
noun
  1. a thing that is indisputably the case.
o·pin·ion
??piny?n
noun
  1. a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

Now, back to the Yale tool. These are the opinions of polled Americans. It’s alarming to know how many people still think there is a reputable dispute over climate change being real, that it is or is not caused by humans, and if it’s something to be concerned about. Facts, not opinions, about the science of understanding climate change and its impacts on our quality of life are easy enough to find. NASA is a good place to start.

However, from this Yale tool we see that 26% of those polled still believe climate change is the result of “natural causes”, 32% are not worried about its impact on our health or economy (but maybe they should be!), 40% do not believe it’s already harming people in the US (think Sandy & Katrina or any of the recent droughts, heat waves, crazy blizzards…) and 75% do not hear about global warming in the media at least once a week!

Can that really be true?

The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, even Fox News have stories about climate change or its impacts on the world around us at least once a week. The hyperlinks are an example of simple search on each site for the past 7 days.

I find hope in the fact that these opinions are not the majority. And I find even more hope in the fact that there are people in Congress, right now, building a coalition of legislators that are looking at policy changes to help mitigate climate change impacts.

“The Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. The caucus was founded in February of 2016 by two south-Florida representatives Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) who will serve as co-chairs of the caucus.

The Caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety,” according to documents filed with the Committee on House Administration.”

This historic undertaking is supported by several groups who care about climate policy. As mentioned, it started with 2 Representatives. Since 2016 it has grown to now 46 members! It is always to be bi-partisan, so when a Republican wants to join, a Democrat must also join and visa versa. To learn more and to be involved the Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a good place to start.
Another thing that provides some hope is even though President Trump has backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement, many other important leaders in the US have not. The “We’re Still In” initiative is a growing body of “mayors, governors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors [that] are joining forces for the first time to declare that [they] will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.”
Check out the Moraine Valley Community College Library and resident Center for Sustainability if you want more academic, scientific-based information on climate change and how to get involved to make positive changes for today and tomorrow.