December 23, 2016
Dear there, SCI Activists!
Did you already decide on your New Year resolution? Or maybe you don’t believe in them? Whatever you think about setting ambitious goals for yourself right around this time, remember that “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” (Chinese proverb)
This week, as usual, is a mixed bag. Learn more about the complexity of the climate refugee situation and about the sixth extinction, which the animal world is going through, to a large extent because of human activity. Give a thought to the concept of “island culture” and consider adding supporting this newsletter with inspiring content to your 2017 to-do list.
Complexity of climate migration
Sooo… we often mention that one of the most serious impacts of climate change is displacement. People suffer due to increased flooding or extended dry spells, living conditions become too harsh or they lose their source of income (e.g. from agriculture) and are forced to look for a safer place to live. Those who are forced from home by changes in their local climate or environment that threaten their security or lives are referred to as climate refugees or environmental refugees.
There are many challenges in recognizing this status and supporting such people. One of the issues is that as people often leave their homes to look for another job and it might make them look more like economic migrants (as it is still difficult to define what an uninhabitable conditions might be exactly, they are also sometimes referred to as environmental migrants and have no legal status that would guarantee them special legal rights and protection). The other issue is that this exodus is happening over a longer time-period than in the case of war refugees. Climate change impacts are devastating, but they creep up on communities over time. It is much more difficult to define the enemy that is threatening the safety and lives of people who end up leaving, because they run out of possibilities.
Some reports predict even over 150 million climate refugees by 2050, but there are voices calling that a simplification. Indeed, in Kenya and Burkina Faso, migration even appears to decline when temperatures rise, suggesting people become “trapped” by environmental misfortune. On top of that, relocating yourself or a whole family is expensive so people hit by a natural disaster or experiencing one failed crop after another might simply not be able to afford it. What is the best solution? Maybe support people where they are through climate change adaptation! “Catch 22: when climate change *prevents* migration” (Climate Home)
The sixth extinction
The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report by WWF, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends. In all of Earth’s history there have been 5 mass extinction events. Now we’re on the verge of sixth extinction and this time it can be traced back to human activity. Read and watch the “Vanishing. The extinction crisis is far worse than you think” (CNN). Be mindful of explicit content in some of the photos and videos (mass extinction is not pretty!). And of course - climate change has something to do with it!
“The biggest cause of tumbling animal numbers is the destruction of wild areas for farming and logging: the majority of the Earth’s land area has now been impacted by humans, with just 15% protected for nature. Poaching and exploitation for food is another major factor, due to unsustainable fishing and hunting: more than 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction, according to recent research. Pollution is also a significant problem with, for example, killer whales and dolphins in European seas being seriously harmed by long-lived industrial pollutants. All the pressures are magnified by global warming, which shifts the ranges in which animals are able to live.” And we can still do something about it! “World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns” (The Guardian)
When discussing climate change with your friends or volunteers, it’s useful to look for common points both sides can agree upon to open the conversation. Maybe not everyone will share your vision of renewable energy, or collaborative economy future, but many people care about animals and wildlife. You can start by explaining the consequences that the animals will face and move on to describing the impacts that climate change has on humans. We all have stakes in fixing the climate crisis, we just need to find individual motivators to take action!
The island take on sustainability
Here is a small thought experiment to start off your next workcamp. Imagine that you, the volunteers and the local community are all in an island, relatively far from the mainland. What do you do with the waste (or how do you avoid producing waste)? How do you make sure that you will remain on good terms with each other (if moving out of the island is not a desirable solution)? How will you use the tools and other resources, if you have access to limited supplies?
If you look at it from a certain perspective, the Earth’s ecosystem is like a huge island. Our trash doesn’t just vanish, even the renewable resources can run out, if consumed too fast, etc. “Island Culture Rising” (Resilience.org)
A game-like discussion about your group’s “island culture” might lead you to some pretty creative ideas and sustainable group life principles! Try it out and let us know how it went at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everybody's waiting to hear your story!
Look back at 2016. Did you organize a cool workshop? Watched an inspiring movie? Participated in a Climate for Peace workcamp? Or maybe you just got interested in this whole climate change thing...
Let the others know! Your story is the most powerful motivator possible. Even if it is simple and doesn't sound like anything special, it is important and worthwile! So take a moment, write it down and send it to email@example.com.
Also remember that we are always open to links and your suggestions for this newsletter. After all, it is all for you.