The Climate Change Thread

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by Del » Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:41 pm

You get your science news from National catholic Fishwrap?
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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Fri Apr 23, 2021 8:07 am

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Pope Francis, in Earth Day messages, warns 'we are at the edge' on climate change [In-Depth]
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Pope Francis delivers a pre-recorded message for Earth Day Live, organized April 22, 2021 by the Earth Day Network. (EarthBeat screenshot)

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Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. Central Time with additional reporting.

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In twin Earth Day messages, Pope Francis warned a gathering of world leaders and the global community at large that "we are at the edge" with climate change, and the time to take action is now.

The pope made appearances minutes apart April 22 during two virtual events marking Earth Day: the international leaders summit on climate organized by U.S. President Joe Biden, and the Earth Day Live livestream organized by the Earth Day Network. In both, Francis urged presidents and prime ministers to act courageously in addressing climate change, and to learn from the coronavirus pandemic the need to create "a just, equitable, environmentally safe planet."

"Both the global catastrophes, Covid and climate change, prove that we do not have time to wait," Francis said in a pre-recorded video for Earth Day Live. "Time urges us, and as COVID-19 demonstrated, we do have the tools to face the loss. We have the instruments. This is the moment to act. We are at the edge."

"We need to ensure that the environment is cleaner, purer and that it is conserved. We must care for nature so that nature may care for us," Francis said.

The pope was one of more than three dozen heads of state — from countries that together represent more than 80% of total global greenhouse gas emissions — who took part in the virtual climate summit convened by Biden.

Francis called the gathering "a happy occasion" and said it was an initiative that puts all of humanity on a path toward better stewardship of nature and accomplishing goals of the Paris Agreement at the next United Nations climate conference, COP 26, scheduled for Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

"It is a challenge we face in this post-pandemic time. It has not yet ended, but we will, we must, look ahead, because it is a crisis," Francis told the world leaders. "We know that one does not emerge from a crisis the same: We emerge either better or worse."

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U.S. President Joe Biden, left, talks to China President Xi Jinping on screen, right, during the first day of the U.S. State Department's Leaders Summit on Climate April 22, 2021. (EarthBeat screenshot)

The two-day Biden climate summit was intended to signal the U.S. return to a leadership position in international climate change diplomacy. To that end, Biden announced a new U.S. target under the Paris Agreement, committing the country — the largest historic emitter — to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030.

The pledge nearly doubles the first U.S. climate target under the Paris accord, made in 2015, and puts the U.S. on a par with the European Un𝗂on and United Kingdom for the most stringent targets. Nevertheless, scientists and climate activists say they are still not enough to meet the higher Paris goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a shortcoming that several leaders, including U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, acknowledged during the summit.


Tweet from @climateactiontr on April 22, 2021
[…]

Efforts are also under way to ramp up action within the global Catholic Church. Next month, the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is expected to launch its Laudato Si' Action Platform, which aims to catalyze Catholic parishes, dioceses, schools, hospitals and religious orders to put into action the messages of Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home."

In introducing Francis at the summit, Kerry said, "Few have used their voice in more profound fashion to shape the global climate movement than His Holiness, Pope Francis," adding that "he not only helped make the Paris Agreement possible, but has continued to bring his humble message of justice and solidarity to so many of the world leaders gathered here today."

During his Earth Day Live message, Francis said, "We are becoming more and more aware that nature deserves to be protected … with the utmost care and respect" for the planet's biodiversity. Once the destruction of nature is triggered, he added, it becomes difficult to stop.

"But we still have time," he added, urging people and countries to work together toward innovations and new pathways to make the world a better place than before the pandemic.

"This is the challenge," Francis said. "And if we do not emerge better, we will start on a path of self-destruction."

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:15 am

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Conservative legal experts take up Apache Oak Flat religious freedom case [In-Depth]
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Children play in the Oak Flat Campground near Globe, Arizona, Feb. 22, 2020. (Newscom/Reuters/Stephanie Keith)

As the Apache people have sought to protect and preserve the Oak Flat area in Arizona from a potential copper mine, they have drawn support from other Native American tribes, conservation organizations like the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, progressive faith groups, and politicians, including U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Recently, their struggle has also attracted the attention of conservative religious liberty scholars.

In the past three months, more than a dozen experts on religious freedom, including prominent Catholic scholars like Helen Alvaré, Robert George and Richard Garnett, have joined several amicus briefs supporting the Apache's legal case.

And in February, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty became counsel in a federal appeal for the Apache Stronghold, the nonprofit community organization working to defend Chi'chil Biłdagoteel, the Apache name for Oak Flat, and other sites considered sacred by the Apache people and other Native Americans.

The case is one of a growing number in which Native American and Alaskan tribes assert that extractive and construction projects on land they view as sacred amount to violations of religious freedom.

The struggle over Oak Flat began in 2014, when Arizona legislators, including Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, attached a land-swap rider to the annual National Defense Authorization Act that approved the transfer of 2,400 acres in the Tonto National Forest, which includes Oak Flat, to Resolution Copper, an Australian mining company.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe and its backers say the copper mine will create a 2-mile-long, 1,000-foot-deep crater that will destroy Oak Flat and make it impossible for tribal members to pray and conduct ceremonial rituals on the land.

Joining the case

Legal action picked up earlier this year, after the outgoing Trump administration fast-tracked the federally required environmental impact statement. That document, published in January, triggered the clock on the 60-day period to complete the transfer.

On March 1, days before the transfer was set to finalize, the Biden administration withdrew the environmental impact statement, a move that postponed the transfer for months, but did little to alleviate the Apache's fears that it will ultimately occur.

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Apache Stronghold leader Wendsler Nosie Sr., a former San Carlos Apache tribal chairman, at the Oak Flat Campground Feb. 23, 2020 (Newscom/Reuters/Stephanie Keith)

Becket, which joined the case at the request of Apache Stronghold, argues that the Apache people and their access to Oak Flat are protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, the 1993 law that prohibits the federal government from imposing a substantial burden on the practice of religion guaranteed under the First Amendment.

"The government has historically done a number of terrible things to suppress Native American religious practices. And even today, the government will unfortunately, often carelessly, or in this case intentionally, allow the destruction of Native American sacred sites," said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket who is representing Apache Stronghold.

Interest in protecting Native American sacred sites, which often are located on land that the federal government took from tribes by force, is one reason Becket took the case, Goodrich told EarthBeat. Another is the precedent that permitting the land transfer could set for other religious communities.

"If the government can take land from the Apaches and destroy a sacred site and cut off their religious practices forever, that's obviously a severe harm to the Apaches, and it also poses a threat to all other religious groups," he said. "So it's important to take a stand, both for the sake of the Apaches themselves and for the sake of other religious groups that may face similar threats."

Overriding legal precedents

[…]

Before Oak Flat, Becket has taken on other cases involving Native American religious practices. In 2016, it reached a settlement with the federal government to protect Native Americans' use of eagle feathers in religious ceremonies. And the firm continues to represent members of the Klickitat and Cascade Tribes of Yakima Nation in Slockish v. U.S. Federal Highway Administration, which seeks financial relief after the government in 2008 bulldozed sacred sites, including a sacred altar, burial ground and old-growth trees, as part of a highway expansion near Mount Hood in Oregon.

The Slockish case has been on the radar of religious liberty scholars for years, and has also sparked their interest in Oak Flat.

[…]

In a recent article in the Harvard Law Review, [Stephanie Barclay, director of the Religious Liberty Initiative at the University of Notre Dame] and co-author Michalyn Steele critiqued the district court's decision in Slockish that the destruction of sacred sites did not interfere with Indigenous religious beliefs.

"The government in these cases is trying to argue that it should be able to destroy sacred sites with impunity, as long as they're on government property," she told EarthBeat.

"There's a lot of religious groups that would be affected by that if that were really the rule," she added, such as Catholic missions on federal property in the West or churches located at the Grand Canyon.

[…]

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At the Oak Flat Campground on June 13, 2017, a map shows the area of subsidence that could occur if Resolution Copper Mining goes forward with its plan to extract an enormous ore deposit from deep within the earth a few miles outside Superior, Arizona. (Newscom/Reuters/Nancy Wiechec)

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All eyes on Oak Flat

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One reason [why Oak Flat has drawn such widespread support from religious liberty advocates] is the certainty of destruction, and with it the impossibility for future religious practices, associated with Oak Flat, according to religious liberty scholars who spoke with EarthBeat. They pointed to the U.S. Forest Service's environmental impact statement, which states that the impact of mining on tribal sacred sites, plants and cultural landscapes would be "immediate, permanent, and large in scale."

Thomas Berg, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, who signed onto the amicus brief, said the physical destruction of sacred sites, in a case like Oak Flat, "is a step beyond" other situations, where the threat — such as interference with the integrity of the land or the potential for an oil spill — may be less certain.

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A view of Oak Flat in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona (Wikimedia Commons/Elias Butler)

"Those other claims deserve more weight than courts have given them; but physical destruction is still a step beyond," he said.

Another reason for the scholars' involvement is more straightforward: They were asked.

"[Becket] does an excellent job seeking supporting amicus briefs," Berg said.

[…]

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Fri May 07, 2021 11:12 am

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In Bangladesh, Catholics plant Laudato Si' trees to buffer against storms [In-Depth]
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A child climbs on a royal poinciana tree to pluck new blossoms on Earth Day, April 22, 2020, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (CNS/Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)

Dhaka, Bangladesh — Titu Gain, who lives in Satkhira, in southern Bangladesh, knows firsthand how deadly and dangerous a cyclone can be.

"Almost every year, cyclones damage my house," said the 55-year-old Catholic father of three. "I lost my brother during a cyclone in 2007," a year when storms killed more than 3,000 people.

Like almost all of his neighbors, Gain is a farmer who also works as a day laborer to make ends meet. The region is known for producing prawns and mangoes, but its location on the coast makes it especially vulnerable to storms.

Families like Gain's live in tin-roofed houses made of wood, bamboo and straw, which are unable to withstand the strong winds.

"We are poor — we cannot [afford to] build our homes from brick. When a strong cyclone damaged our flimsy house, we lived in inhumane conditions under the open sky," he said.

When disaster strikes, people who lose their homes, as Gain and his family did, receive assistance from the government and local aid agencies. But it's a never-ending battle, as cyclones occur every year.

The impact of those disasters is compounded by COVID-19. While 20% of the population lived in poverty before the pandemic, that figure had increased to 42% by the end of 2020, according to a household survey by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling.

Crisscrossed by rivers that flow into the Bay of Bengal, low-lying Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to the increasingly fierce storms and rising sea levels that scientists predict will worsen because of global warming.

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Catholics plant trees in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Sumon Corraya)

Forests provide a natural buffer against severe weather, but deforestation — spurred by illegal logging, unregulated settlement and clearing of land for industrial agriculture — has decreased this protection. More than half a million people have died because of cyclones since 1970.

Now the Catholic Church is trying to change that, with a goal of planting 700,000 trees to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical ‘Laudato Si'’: on Care for our Common Home.

The effort, launched in August, also marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of Bangladesh — a Muslim-majority country of 165 million people, which has only about 400,000 Catholics.

Each Catholic is asked to plant at least one tree, Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, who is vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, told EarthBeat, with special emphasis on coastal areas, where storm risk is great, and along rivers, where erosion jeopardizes villages.

Rozario is also president of Caritas Bangladesh, which has joined the effort with a pledge to plant 300,000 trees in the areas where it works.

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Bishop Gervas Rozario speaks about the tree planting program at the premises of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh in Dhaka Aug. 14, 2020. (Sumon Corraya)

Gain is enthusiastic about the effort. He got one young tree from his parish and planted 10 more mango saplings on his own. He said he also inspired his Muslim neighbors to plant trees.

"With the encyclical Laudato Si', Pope Francis inspired us to take care of our environment," Rozario said. "We Catholic bishops discussed how we can contribute to the environment, and we saw that we could plant trees to care for the Earth. Trees can protect us from natural disasters."

The tree planting also marks the country's golden jubilee, as Bangladesh celebrated its independence on March 26.

Disaster-prone lowland

Besides helping to mitigate climate change, trees offer crucial protection in Bangladesh, where floods, cyclones, drought and river erosion claim lives every year. The South Asian country is located in the floodplain of the world's largest delta, where the Ganges and Brahmaputra river systems empty into the Bay of Bengal.

That location makes the country particularly vulnerable to weather-related disasters, including cyclones, flooding and storm surges, as well as the erosion and landslides that accompany heavy rains.

[…]

Scientists predict that climate change will cause increasingly severe storms. They also warn that by 2050, some 300 million coastal residents worldwide could live below the elevation of average annual flooding.

The stakes are particularly high for low-lying countries like Bangladesh, where it is feared that about 20 million people could be displaced, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Four out of every 10 people in Bangladesh live in areas that are fewer than 10 meters above sea level, according to a recent study. That study modeled likely migration due to sea level rise and predicted that the districts of Shariatpur, Munshiganj and Narayanganj, just south of the capital of Dhaka, would be most affected.

While past studies have predicted strong migration from rural areas to cities, the authors of the new study say the effect is more likely to be a cascade, with flooding forcing people to move first to neighboring districts. That could cause residents of those areas to migrate in turn, or it might trigger conflicts over local resources.

The authors project that 1.3 million people across Bangladesh could be affected over the next three decades.

Added to the threat of sea-level rise is damage from severe storms. In 1970, cyclones are estimated to have killed 500,000 people. Death tolls have been lower since then, but are still high.

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A woman moves debris at the site of her house, demolished by Cyclone Amphan, in Satkhira, Bangladesh, May 21, 2020. (CNS/Reuters/Km Asad)

To help save lives, the government and aid agencies, including Caritas Bangladesh, have equipped some buildings, including churches and schools, to serve as temporary cyclone shelters.

Trees 'save lives'

[…]

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Lay leaders distribute trees in Savar, in the Dhaka district of Bangladesh. (Sumon Corraya)

[…]

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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