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October 2007


NGO Climate Change Conference: An Overview By Kevin Dance, C.P.

The 60th annual DPI/NGO Conference from 5-7 September, mirroring the increased interest in the topic that has exploded within the United Nations community, had the theme: CLIMATE CHANGE: HOW IT IMPACTS US ALL. Six members of the Passionist Family attended. With almost 2000 people gathered from 80 countries, the 3 days gathering was, at times alarming, often challenging and always exciting. Greenland is now growing potatoes. In 3 years time they will be growing strawberries! Our world is warming! Experts showed us the scientific evidence for climate change. We heard from people whose lives are already being disrupted – indigenous people, those living on low-lying islands, people caught in the poverty trap. Climate change is a moral issue, a human rights issue, a development issue, a peace and security issue, an economic issue, a survival issue. The message was clear: we are running

out of time to remedy the situation. Each of us has a part to play in addressing what is possibly the greatest crisis our world has

L-R, Jenny Willey, Tricia Pakonis, Drew Swope Mary Ann Strain, C.P., Kevin Dance, C.P., Stephen Dunn, C.P.


yet faced. Climate change is the transformative issue of the 21st century. It challenges the paradigm of equity – those who do the least damage, suffer the most. But this shared crisis can be the trigger for a radical change to save us and draw us all together in new and hopeful ways. We need to start thinking of the world as one country. We all live in Earthland. If we approach the crisis just from the point of science and economics, people become invisible. We must bring in the moral dimension. It is morally untenable to decide in terms of the cost to my own country or economy, without considering the damage I am doing to the interests of the rest of the world. Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, very quietly broke the news to us: • 11 of the warmest years in recorded history have been in the last 12 years

• With rising temperatures, vector borne diseases are on the increase. • We have 7-8 years as the outer limit for the increase of emissions • We must put a price on carbon and stop subsidizing it. • We need partnerships that reach around the world • If we lower emissions right now, it will take 100 years to keep the increase of temperature at less than 2° C He reminded us that the Kyoto Protocol offered emission reduction of 5%. The G 8, in its 2007 meeting, offered 50% reduction in emissions. But to ensure our future there must be 95% reduction. So what is needed is the Ecological Conversion of which Pope John Paul 11 spoke.

“Humanity has disappointed divine expectations - humiliating the earth, our home. It is necessary, therefore, to stimulate and sustain ecological conversion.” John Paul II, General Audience, 17 January 2001

Water Security - A Crisis of the Poor By Mary Ann Strain, C.P.

Women wash clothes from a well dug in a dry river bed in Niger. UN Photo

I attended a roundtable session on water security and climate change. The term water security refers to the basic human right of access to potable water and adequate sanitation. Today in our world one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water and a further 2.6 billion are without basic sanitation. In human terms this means that: • 5000 children die each day • 443 million school days are lost a year • 40 billion hours are spent a year (mostly by women and girls) collecting water in sub-Saharan Africa. This equals the entire number of hours worked by the people of France in a year.


Water security is above all a crisis of the poor. While some countries struggle because of their geographical location with a scarcity of water, there is also unequal access to water within countries. In many countries the upper and middle classes are connected to the water mains, but the poor have to leave their homes to get water. If they want clean water they must buy it and they pay more for it than those with running water. The poorer you are the more you pay for water. Climate change is already making the crisis of water security worse. The roundtable offered some ways that the world can begin to adapt, to increase access to clean water in a world that is getting warmer. 1.See that investments in water systems go hand in hand with investment in sanitation systems this is a lesson from history. In the 18th century water systems were developed without adequate sanitation leading to contamination of the water supply and disease.

2. Conserve and recycle water for maximum benefit. Create a loop. Water used for urban consumption can be cleaned after use and reused for irrigation. 3. Prevent surface water run off and stabilize the soil. Reincorporation of organic material like compost increases the capacity of the soil to retain water. 4. Establish decentralized supplies of potable water. Large reservoirs are vulnerable to earth changes, like earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. 5. Research ways of producing “new”, for example inexpensive and green desalinization. Finally, it is imperative that we reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses. Unless we reduce carbon emissions we can forget about water security. Visit the Ecovillage Institute for more information on waste water treatment and recycling. As well as the big picture, we were each challenged to reduce our personal carbon emissions by 25% in the next two years.

The Effects of Climate Change and the Role of the Culture of Peace: Preventing and Overcoming Conflicts By Jenny Wiley Coordinator Passionist Volunteers

Despite the seemingly overwhelming problems that stem from Global Warming, it is possible to prevent global conflict. This will happen as we build a “culture of peace”. To create a culture of peace, we must rethink our definition of security. We must look past the outdated notion of national security to shared security. Carmen Maria Gallordo Hernandez described a culture of peace as one that shapes values, ways of behaving and creates a new way of life. Its can support the needs of everyone by promoting sustainable economic and social development. Present levels of consumption in the rich world are not sustainable. This was labeled the “violence of consumption” for it depletes resources and deepens inequities. Consumption must meet the basic needs of all, without compromising the well being of others or


For our future development, we must find green and responsible ways to produce goods and services.

ake M n a C u Yo ence! r e f f i D a

mortgaging the future of our children. Rapid globalisation contributes to pollution and global warming that, in turn, have led to an increase in the potential for conflict. Pollution and climate change have a direct impact on water scarcity and food insecurity. More than 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. Water scarcity leads to food insecurity and food security is necessary for peace. To face the difficulties that lie ahead, we need to develop preventive mechanisms. We must promote and strengthen well functioning legal and judicial systems. We will need to draw on the wisdom of indigenous people and to practice full gender equality. Democratic participation and governance are essential for the culture of peace. What is needed is a balanced model of environmental protection, social responsibility and governance that is open to scrutiny. For our future development, we must find green and responsible ways to produce goods and services. Globalization is the driving force behind today’s

environmental implosion. So we must use it to turn things around. A new sense of partnership is urgently needed that helps developing nations and involves all sectors of the world. Here the United Nations can help. The UN already oversees environmental treaties, international conferences and high level meetings. It must press for greater funding of new projects and stronger enforcement of existing agreements and treaties. Leadership is key. International effort must begin at the local level. Cora Weiss, President of Hague Appeal for Peace, called us to engage the greedy to help educate and fund alternative solutions. We are all vulnerable to global warming; we all have a stake in finding a solution. The song “let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me” provided the final word for the workshop. It was a fitting finish. We each have an active role to play in building a culture of Peace.

1. Drive less!! Walk, bike, and/or take public transit. 2. When you drive: Properly inflate tires, keep engine tuned, carpool, and don’t idle. 3. Cool down your laundry: if you wash two loads a week in warm or cold water instead of hot, you’ll save around 500 pounds less of carbon dioxide every year. 4. Get political: Let your elected officials know the environment matters to you. 5. Use elbow grease, not appliances. You can save 700 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year by linedrying your clothes in spring and summer instead of using the dryer.


Climate Change and the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection This workshop sponsored by the Armenian International Women’s Association explored the interdependent relationship between individuals and the environment. Climate change brings with it a host of Africa it is to grow coffee, cocoa and public health issues. Diseases like malaria cotton. These are crops the West wants, and dengue fever are on the rise. There not things African people can eat. are all sorts of mental health implications People can’t grow these crops and rice. as well that are seen most clearly Aria Anman from Atam Jaya following an extreme weather event or University, Indonesia spoke of the natural disaster like the earthquake and impact of natural disasters in her subsequent tsunami in Indonesia. Victims country. In the last 15 years, six of the of these disasters experience; 21 largest and deadliest earthquakes • Shock and disbelief, “When the earth have occurred in Indonesia. People shakes under your feet what certainty is lost their home, family and livelihood. left?” Many suffer post-traumatic stress, • Denial survivor’s guilt, anger, depression, • Strong emotional reactions fear and anxiety. In Aceh, a region • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder badly affected by the tsunami, a (PTSD) ‘warrior culture’ allows little space In disasters, while both men and for emotional expression and makes women experience the traumatic event, it hard to express and to process grief. women are nearly twice as likely to suffer The mental health workers aim to help PTSD and less likely to receive treatment. people become resilient survivors who Women generally have less access to all can find meaning in past experience types of healthcare in disasters. and create a new life. Two panelists from West Africa highlighted the problems climate change is causing in that region. • West Africa relies on agriculture. There is a rainy season and a dry reason and different crops are planted during each season. Climate change is causing confusion of the seasons. Lack of rain in the rainy season and too much rain during the dry season ruins crops. • In West Africa it is the job of girls to collect water. As water becomes scarcer, girls must walk farther from home and are at risk of rape. To collect water they must miss school. • The mangrove forest, stretching from Guinea down to Congo, is a wetland forming a barrier between the sea and the rest of Africa. It is a sanctuary for birds, mammals and sea life. It is under threat. If Two Men Sit on a Bench Outside it dries out, Africa goes dry. House Destroyed by Earthquake. UN Photo • When the West invests in agriculture in


The Wild Cards in Climate Change By Stephen Dunn, C.P.

There was something alluring about the title of this “midday workshop”. The synopsis explained that the panel would “discuss military weapons designed to intentionally modify the climate and weather, earth systems, and/or trigger seismic events as part of a strategic or tactical war.” That discussion began with the solution. From Turkey, the President of the Environmental Research and Protection Agency, Mr. Zafer Ayvaz, explained the UN Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques. This UN Convention has the potential of being updated and developed in such a way as to, at minimum, make countries think again about ruining environments in their wars, and, at best, preventing that strategy by way of financial penalties. How alarmingly these climate modification strategies are becoming was the focus of the spirited presentation by Pauline Cantwell, representing the NGO Peace Action. She spelled out in chilling detail the number of projects currently going on, with about fifty agencies in the USA right now engaged in cloud production. It is a totally unregulated activity. There are possible beneficial effects, of course, but the negative effects are staggering, and no one is watching to see which results predominate, or why, for example, rivers are drying up, or the atmosphere in a micro ecology is being contaminated. Rosalind Peterson, President of the Agriculture Defense Coalition,

CARRIBEAN SEA (Aug. 19, 2007) – Satellite imagery shows Hurricane Dean as it moves over Jamaica and heads toward the Yucatan Peninsula. U.S. Navy photo

said that agriculture is a first line victim of these activities, through “man made” floods, desertification and soil contamination. The increasing use of climate modification by the military in particular was noted. There is public documentation of this activity. Allan Buckmann, a field biologist recently retired from the California State Fish and Game Department, is appalled by effects of cloud production on plants, trees, and the health of lakes, etc. As well as naming the problem, he did have a solution, which is the intelligent deployment of Nature’s own remedies to the problems the climate modification technology targets. Intelligent use of micro-organisms can achieve those ends. But it would mean switching from our fascination with technology and domination with an (at least) equal allurement for the miraculously

beneficial activities of microbiology. Participants came away agreeing with Pauline Cantwell that “we are living in the future” when it comes to military weaponry (she had a lot of alarming examples, including triggering a tsunami). We also will think a lot more about how many ot the severe weather events we are experiencing, from ultra high UV readings to floods, are the work of Mother Nature affected by Global Change, and how many are caused by those “hiding behind Mother Nature’s skirt.” To learn more about Passionists International at the United Nations go to: www.

Exploring Organic Solutions to Climate Change and Food Security


The issues surrounding the production and transportation of food impact everyone. By Jenny Wiley

As the world’s population increases over the next 50 years, we must produce as much food as we have produced in the last 10,000 years. Here lies the dilemma, because the Earth cannot sustain the damage caused by large scale industrial farming. Industrial Farming depends on fossil fuels to power it and the emissions from these fuels play a direct role in climate change. Continued industrial farming will deplete the soil, lead to environmental disasters and large scale migration. Fundamental changes are needed. We must make the change and re-localize food distribution and rebuild rural, agricultural communities and culture. This will be extremely difficult. When agriculture was industrialized famine became a rare event. But we can no longer afford to ignore these realities; fossil fuels are finite and are being depleted. Solutions will not be found in bio-fuels. Ethanol uses an enormous amount of land that is needed to grow food to feed the world.

We have two choices; either keep doing the same with mechanized agri-business, increased global trade, genetic engineering of crops; or we can de-industrialize and find local and organic solutions. Critics argue organic farming cannot feed the world. Studies suggest it can, but some new policies are needed: land reform, local-based education, loans and financial incentives to encourage small, organic farms. We must encourage the growth of farming not drive small farmers into bankruptcy. All of nature is interconnected and it is important to maintain ecosystems. The Natural Agriculture farmer listens to nature; industrial agriculture does not and is destroying the earth, not replenishing it. Natural agriculture tries to change that mentality by creating a partnership between consumers and producers. What are the steps to encourage this partnership? • Buy local; • Create your own garden; • Join a community garden; Eat

food that is in season; • Form relationships with those who grow your food; • Support farmers who grow food in environmentally sound ways. In Zambia, a farmer’s cooperative has been created based on Shumei principles of sustainable farming. Zambia, where 60% of its people gain their income from farming, is already seeing some of the effects of climate change: excessive rain and prolonged dry spells, with decreased food production and a growing demand for water. The demand for water is leading to conflicts in the region. The farmer’s cooperative is training women to become more active in developing their communities and their nation. Sustainable farming will lead to a rise in the cooperatives’ members’ finances and power to create change. Mbabala Women Farmers Co-operative Union has been working since 2004 to implement natural agriculture programs. The presentation of the Mbabala Cooperative was a great way to end the workshop. It gave a sense of hope that was badly needed after hearing such dire predictions on the Earth’s future. Food production and security are vital to us all and each of us can be part of a new way forward.

Let us know what YOU think! Email us: Green beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, honey, maple syrup, baked and canned goods and other wonderful things are found at Farmer’s Markets held during the growing season. USDA Photo


Good news!! September 13th

Kevin Dance, C.P. Vice Chair, NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

I hasten to share joyful news with all of you who have worked hard and long with our Indigenous sisters and brothers to see justice done for them. I have just returned from the General New York, September 13th – Assembly chamber of the United Nations Statement by Secretary General after witnessing an historic vote. The Ban Ki-moon United Nations Declaration on the Rights of The Secretary-General warmly Indigenous Peoples was adopted by vote with welcomes the adoption of the 143 in favour, 4 against and 11 abstentions. Declaration on the Rights of InMexico, Peru and Guatemala championed its digenous Peoples as a triumph adoption. for indigenous peoples around the Australia distinguished itself by leading world. He notes that this marks a the charge against the Declaration. However historic moment when UN Member it turned out to be a charge that lacked States and indigenous peoples credibility and energy. Australia was joined have reconciled with their painful by only three countries - Canada, New histories and are resolved to move Zealand and the United States of America. forward together on the path of Australia presented itself to other UN human rights, justice and developmember states as a champion of the rights ment for all. of indigenous peoples. It gave 6 ‘arguments’ The Secretary-General calls on why it could not accept the Declaration.Governments and civil society Self-determination, lands and resources, to urgently advance the work of free, prior and informed consent, intellectual integrating the rights of indigproperty rights. Each of these ‘straw men’ enous peoples into international had long ago been explored and demolished human rights and development in the negotiations between governments and agendas, as well as policies and indigenous peoples. programmes at all levels, so as to It is reason to celebrate that, after ensure that the vision behind the twenty four years and many setbacks, it has Declaration becomes a reality. passed. Thought not a binding agreement, it is invaluable in naming the rights, both weight. Thank God that despite the individual and collective, of indigenous mood of despair in recent weeks it was peoples. It will carry considerable moral strongly adopted. Indigenous people are called “first peoples”, tribal peoples, aboriginals and autochthons. They have a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories. They consider themselves distinct from other sectors of society now prevailing in those territorities. There are at least 5,000 indigenous groups made up of 300 million people, that live in more than 70 countries on five continents.