Saturday, September 12, 2009

Be part of history: Stand up for the principles of No Impact Man, and join the Human Countdown!

On Sunday, September 20, 2009, thousands of people will gather in Central Park to make a statement about climate change. The Human Countdown, as it is called, is a campaign being run by Oxfam America in collaboration with tck tck tck as a way to wake up humanity to the devastating effects that climate change is having on the world. In particular, climate change is seriously hurting many people in developing countries (even though developed countries such as the US do most of the damaging). From raising awareness, to on-the-ground fieldwork, to lobbying Congress for increased funding, international adaptation to climate change is one of the main issues Oxfam has decided to focus on. This means that "the US must invest now in adaptation projects, like elevated flood-proof houses and drought-resistant seeds, to help women and families build their resilience to these new and heightened risks." In case you don't know anything about Oxfam - Oxfam America is a part of Oxfam International, which is a "confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together, and with partners and allies around the world, to bring about lasting change" and combat poverty and injustice. There is a climate change bill being worked on in Congress, and you can bet that Oxfam America is right there doing its lobbying. The US House of Representatives already has its version of the climate change bill written - which has some positive aspects - but we want the Senate to up it a notch when it comes to creating their version of the bill. Oxfam America and its partners are currently working to try and convince the Senate to include these goals in their version:
  • the House bill (HR 2454) has 1% of money allotted for international adaptation funding; we are asking for the Senate bill to include 3%.
  • 1% in HR 2454 is dedicated to Clean Tech Transfer; we want the Senate bill to dedicate 2%.
  • We are also asking for the amounts of money for deforestation prevention (5%), domestic adaptation (1%), and CO2 reductions (17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050) to be maintained in the Senate bill.
This may not seem like a lot of money, but in the scheme of things they are reasonable "asks" - not so much that Congress will just laugh at us. So, tell your Senators you want to see these provisions in the climate change bill. And tell them to become a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador. Because once women like Shorbanu know that the devastation they are facing is man-made, they want us to do something about it.

To learn more about the NYC volunteer arm of Oxfam America and sign up, go to the Oxfam Action Corps NYC blog. (or find an Oxfam Action Corps in your city). Or if you're still in school, start an Oxfam America Club.

To participate in the Human Countdown, sign up here. You can also see the event on Facebook. And if you have access to bell-ringing in a church or other facility, ask for the bells to be rung on September 21 at 12:18 p.m. And if you're around NYC the morning of September 21, join The Yes Men for a stunt they plan on pulling. It's critical that we wake up the world to the effects of climate change, because already, results from the G-20 summit have not been satisfactory. Let's hope they are more satisfactory at the G-20 summit in Pittsburg September 24-25, 2009. It's a shame the United States never signed the Kyoto protocol; let's at least assure we contribute in substantial manner to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Dec. 7-18, 2009.

We can make a big difference on an international scale when it comes to climate change by lobbying politicians to make changes that affect everyone. But we can also make an impact by decreasing our own individual carbon footprints. One family that has realized the importance of (and benefits of) decreasing their carbon footprint is the Beavans. Colin Beavan, aka "No Impact Man," spent a year of his life undergoing an experiment making as small an environmental impact as humanly possible while still living in mainstream society. Colin wrote a book about his experience and made a movie about it (using low impact filmmaking, of course) called No Impact Man. He successfully recruited his wife and daughter for the experiment and made it a family event, which will prove to make for an entertaining movie, I'm sure! I've only seen the trailer so far but essentially, they learned to eat locally grown food which helped him lose 20 pounds without going to the gym once and reversed his wife's pre-diabetic condition, did not use transportation that requires fossil fuels, and stopped using electricity (and therefore television), which helped strengthen family ties. It looks like a really good movie, and Colin Beavan is making an entire campaign around it, called the No Impact Project. I encourage everyone to check it out & see the movie, spread the word, and then apply as many principles to your own life as possible! I get upset when I see things in individually wrapped plastic, too.

Oh yeah and don't forget to contribute to Oxfam's international climate change awareness campaign by going out to Central Park next Sunday for the Human Countdown (that is, if you're already in the area! We wouldn't want you taking a plane to get here and waste all that fossil fuel in the process, now would we?).

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