June 5 is World Environment Day, designated by the UN to encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment.
It is a day to raise awareness on environmental issues emerging from marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming.
“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win”.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
What is happening? Climate change is the warming of the earth’s temperature.
What is causing it? An increase in greenhouse gases (GHC) from burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil, petroleum, and natural gas:
- 82% Carbon dioxide – from cars, buildings, power plants
- 10% Methane from natural gas, petroleum industry
- 5% Nitrous oxide from agricultural practices
- plus, a loss of trees reducing the absorption of CO2.1
War and preparation for war are also major contributors to the climate crisis through wasted resources and environmental damage. Military aircraft, for example, consume ¼ of world’s jet fuel! 2 Global military expenditures of $2 trillion including $105 billion on nuclear weapons could better be used for climate change mitigation. 3.
Consequences? A huge increase in natural disasters From 2000-2019, there were 7348 reported natural disasters:
- 44% floods, 28% storms, 8% earthquakes, 6% extreme temperatures, 5% landslides, 5% droughts, 3% wildfire
- 1 million deaths and 3 trillion USD damage. (90% of these disasters are classified as weather-and climate-related, costing the world economy 520 billion USD each year).4
Who is Impacted? All of us!!! Increased temperatures, rising sea levels, forest fires, storms, and desertification impact gender equality, poverty, hunger, loss of biodiversity, food and water insecurity and migration.
- In every area, women and girls are disproportionately affected.
- Over 258 million migrants around the world now live outside their country of birth, most due to climate disruption.
- Climate change is a major threat to international peace and security. It leads to political unrest, violence, and mass migrations.
It is time for action! The Climate Crisis is endangering life itself! Governments, businesses, civil society, youth, and academia must work together. We have the technology and resources to create a green future in which suffering is diminished, equality is honored, and we can be in harmony with nature.
What Servas members can do about climate change:
- Get informed. See partial list at bottom.
- Spend time in parks and natural terrain – appreciate the planet we live in.
- Become energy conscious: consume less, recycle, reuse, eliminate plastics, use energy-efficient appliances.
- Become transportation savvy: walk, use public transportation, buy electric vehicles where possible.
- Eat natural foods: locally grown, less meat and dairy, avoid pesticides and herbicides.
- Get involved: Communicate with your local, regional, and national officials – ask for their plan to reduce carbon. Join local committees and organizations working for climate change.
Footnotes and resources for more information:
1: www.IPCC.ch: the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2. A Global Security System: An Alternative to War, 5th Edition, World Beyond War
3: www.ICAN.org: International Campaign against Nuclear Weapons
4: UNDRR Report ((UN office on Disaster Risk Reduction); The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019
Take actions with international organizations working for a greener world:
https://justrecoverygathering.org/ (part of 350.org)
www.unep.org UN Environment Program
Donate your time: International organizations and look for local resources in your country.
World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers, WWOOF.org; volunteer, free room/board, learn about organic farming.
Volunteers for Peace, vfp.org, 3000 projects across the world; nominal charge for room/board
---» Article on Climate Emergency submitted 5/1/21 by Jeanne Devine, Brita Schmitz, and SI representatives to the UN in NY