The oceans are not worth $24 trillion

Charles Eisenstein is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible.

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The village that fell asleep: mystery illness perplexes Kazakh scientists

One day last summer, Viktor Kazachenko set off across the steppe from his village in northern Kazakhstan. He was driving to the nearest town on some errands, but he never arrived. The mysterious illness has sent residents into comas, sometimes lasting days on end.

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Accord with China helps US cut 2025 emission-reduction target (Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, Nov 29,, 2014 )

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Instead of setting higher targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emission compared to its previous commitments, the US has reduced the target for 2025 by two-four per cent, under a joint declaration with China. The latter, too, has kept the language of the declaration loose.

Under the joint declaration, the US announced by 2025 it would cut emissions 26-28 per cent compared to 2005 levels. China announced its emissions would peak “around 2030”

But in 2010, under the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the US had said by 2025, it would reduce its emissions 30 per cent compared to 2005 levels. That commitment of the US is remembered more for the 17 per cent cut it had promised by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. But in its formal communication announcing the 17 per cent cut to the UNFCCC, the US had also said, “In addition, the pathway set forth in pending legislation (which require the 17 per cent cut by 2020) would entail 30 per cent emission reduction by 2025 and 42 per cent emission reduction by 2030, in line with the goal to reduce emissions 83 per cent by 2050.”

This shows the US has used the joint announcement with China to reduce its emission reduction target for 2025 by two-four per cent compared to 2005 levels, rather than make any ambitious higher commitment. These figures belie the initial hype about the two countries signing a ‘historic’ agreement. The 2010 declaration of the US was not legally binding, which permitted the largest emitter historically to step back from its earlier commitments. The joint declaration with China, too, is in the nature of an announcement, and not a bilateral agreement.

The US declaration under the joint statement loses value further when compared to the benchmark year of 1990 year, used to gauge targets for developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol. The US prefers to use the 2005 emission levels to measure its reductions, as its emissions had peaked under a ‘business-as-usual’ case at that time.

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What Climate Change Asks Of Us: Moral Obligation, Mobilization And Crisis Communication (Margaret Klein, 21 December 2014, Commondreams.org)

Image result for climate change in indiaClimate change is a crisis, and crises alter morality. Climate change is on track to cause the extinction of half the species on earth and, through a combination of droughts, famines, displaced people, and failed states and pandemics, the collapse of civilization within this century. If this horrific destructive force is to be abated, it will be due to the efforts of people who are currently alive. The future of humanity falls to us. This is an unprecedented moral responsibility, and we are by and large failing to meet it.

Indeed, most of us act as though we are not morally obligated to fight climate change, and those who do recognize their obligation are largely confused about how to meet it.

Crises alter morality; they alter what is demanded of us if we want to be considered good, honorable people. For example—having a picnic in the park is morally neutral. But if, during your picnic, you witness a group of children drowning and you continue eating and chatting, passively ignoring the crisis, you have become monstrous. A stark, historical example of crisis morality is the Holocaust—history judges those who remained passive during that fateful time. Simply being a private citizen (a “Good German”) is not considered honorable or morally acceptable in retrospect. Passivity, in a time of crisis, is complicity. It is a moral failure. Crises demand that we actively engage; that we rise to the challenge; that we do our best.

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Radical Goals for Sustainable Development (BARBARA UNMÜSSIG, Project Syndicate, DEC 23, 2014)

BERLIN – Let us imagine for a moment that we could change the world according to our wishes. Dramatic economic inequality gives way to social and political inclusion. Universal human rights become a reality. We end deforestation and the destruction of arable land. Fish stocks recover. Two billion people look forward to a life without poverty, hunger, and violence. Rather than paying lip service to climate change and resource scarcity, we start to respect and uphold the limits of our planet and its atmosphere.

That was the aim in 2001, when the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals. And it will be the aim next year, when the MDGs expire and the UN adopts a successor framework for environmental and development policy. The coming set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will seek to protect ecosystems, conserve resources, and, as with the MDGs, lift millions of people out of poverty.

Combining environmental and developmental frameworks is a good idea – one that builds on the success of a host of legally binding international conventions and agreements crafted under the UN’s auspices to protect the climate, conserve biodiversity, uphold human rights, and reduce poverty. Though they may not be perfect – and, unfortunately, the countries that ratify them do not always achieve the targets – they have led to the creation of institutional processes that encourage countries to meet their promises and embolden citizens to hold governments accountable.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/radical-sustainable-development-goals-by-barbara-unmuessig-2014-12#tZievSMQuugjwtzA.99

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Climate change: Moving beyond the rhetoric (Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, Apr 23, 2015)

Image result for climate change
India is currently formulating its ‘target’ for fighting climate change for the global deal that is to be signed in Paris by the end of 2015. Formally, these targets are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs. For the first quarter of this year, the government got caught up in the rhetoric of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said: “India can truly show the way to the world in mitigating climate change.” The administration under him tried to be more loyal than the king and began working on a plan to do more than what any other country has shown appetite in the short run to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

A semblance of moderation and reality has set in since the US and European Union (EU) put their formal global targets on the table – low on ambition and along expected lines. China is also soon expected to formally announce its targets, picking them up from the China-US joint announcement. India is now beginning to sit down and re-think its positions pragmatically.

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