Climate Change Conference Roundup: Commit2Respond NOW to Mitigate Climate Change

By Bruce Knotts

I had the privilege of speaking at, leading discussions, and participating in two amazing meetings on Climate Change. The first was the week-long International Affairs Conference on Climate Change on Star Island, NH, featuring several amazing leaders in this field of climate change. The second meeting, “Our Children, Climate, Faith Symposium,” took place the weekend of August 8-9 in Strafford, Vermont. It is clear from all these speakers and more that participated in the two conferences, that there is much we can do. We need global agreements to lower greenhouse gas emissions, carbon and other pollutants in the atmosphere of our planet. Learn more at Commit2Respond. Small Island states and those most vulnerable and worst affected by climate change demand concerted global action to mitigate climate change now in every possible global way, and to adapt to the changing environment and to help those worst affected. One great way to get involved is to join Commit2Repond and get active. Dale Jamieson, in his Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed – And What It Means for Our Future, tracks the 50 years we’ve had to do something meaningful about climate change and failed to do so. However, concerted action quickly can reduce the damage and help us and our planet adapt in solidarity with all those affected. Jamieson suggests integrating adaptation with development, increasing terrestrial carbon sinks, full-cost energy accounting, putting a price on emissions, using regulations to force technology adoption and diffusion, and supporting technology research. He ends the book with urging immediate action to end coal plant emissions, which is what President Obama is taking steps to do. Robert Jensen warns that we must prepare ourselves for “massive die-offs.” He doubts predictions that we will have 9 billion people on the planet by 2050, rather, we may have fewer than we have now. As climate change reduces the carrying capacity of earth, we will have to adapt to a world capable of supporting fewer than it can now. To do this in a humane way, we need to create the chance for a decent human future with “Green, Red, Black, and Female.” Robert Jensen asks, “Which is more important, social justice or ecological sustainability? The answer is, that’s the wrong question, because any progressive project must embrace both goals, no matter what the specific issue or focus. We must adopt a holistic critique of the industrial attack on the planet, capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.” Jensen offers a framework for understanding the problem of the domination/subordination dynamic that structures the modern world. We need to think green, as in green technology; red, as in socialism which shares value and responsibility; black, as in #Black Lives Matter and ending white supremacy; and female, as in ending the gendered male patriarchy. We must cultivate and draw on our faith in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, in the equality of us all everywhere and be in solidarity together. We must be in community with all humanity, plants, and animals that currently exist and all those to come. Our current forms of government and ways of thinking don’t equip us for global solidarity, solidarity with the interconnected web of life of which we are a part, or solidarity with all the generations to come that depend on what we do now. However, we can forge new ways to govern and to be in a new kind of global, interconnected web of all existence and intergenerational solidarity with those that live after us. That work must begin now. Join Commit2Respond and engage is this vital issue of planetary survival. Listen to the beautiful hymn “Sing for the Climate” sung by the choir of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead, MA. Among the many speakers who impressed me at these two conferences were: At Star Island:

Steven P. Hamburg is the chief scientist of the Environmental Defense Fund and is an ecosystem ecologist. Trained at Vassar College (AB, Biology), Yale (MFS ecology and forestry; PhD, biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology), Stanford Universities (Post-doc ecology) and Harvard (Bullard Fellowship) he has been involved in biogeochemistry/forest ecology research for more than 25 years.

Kate Sheppard is a senior reporter and the environment and energy editor at the Huffington Post. Her reporting has been recognized with awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Online News Association, and Planned Parenthood.

Keya Chatterjee is Executive Director of US Climate Action Network, and author of the book The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby. Her work focuses on building a movement in support of climate action.

Dale Jamieson is Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Affiliated Professor of Law, and Director of the Animal Studies Initiative at New York University. He is also Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College, London, and Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. During the academic year 2013-14 he is a member of the School of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Dale is the author of Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed – And What It Means for Our Future, which is my new favorite book on climate change. Dale has agreed to speak at our 2016 seminar on income inequality and black lives matter.

At Vermont:

Shelley Alpern is the Director of Research and Advocacy for Clean Yield Asset Management. A shareholder advocate for nearly two decades at Trillium Asset Management, Shelley led and participated in numerous advocacy campaigns, many leading to negotiated agreements with leading corporations. She has worked on a wide range of issues, including greenhouse gas emissions, corporate political spending, hydrofracking, LGBT workplace policies, and disclosure of equal employment data.

Tré Cates is the Chief Operating Officer / Chief Financial Officer for the Savory Institute is a proven leader, innovator and social entrepreneur. Tré has a BA in Philosophy from Ouachita Baptist University and a MA in Theology from Southwestern seminary.

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Jensen writes for popular media, both alternative and mainstream. His opinion and analytic pieces on such subjects as foreign policy, politics, economics, and ecology have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and web sites all over the world.

As we explore the faith foundations of the relationships between Our Children, the Climate, and our Faith, Jensen’s own explorations of faith and his insights into how we communicate can help us bridge the gaps among us and enable us to work more effectively for change.

About the Author

Bruce Knotts

Bruce Knotts is the Director of the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations. He was born and raised in Southern California. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Pepperdine University and his Master’s Degree in International Education from the Monterey Institute of...


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Bruce at Star Island

Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office Director Bruce Knotts at Star Island
UN & UUA Flags

United Nations and Unitarian Universalist Association flags fly at Star Island