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The Lean Christmas

By: Edna Weisser

 While everyone is still saddened and devastated by the havoc brought by supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) to central Philippines, I find myself livid at what happened. I am angry in the middle of the Advent Season, a special time I normally set aside to reflect on life‘s blessings and burdens during the past twelve months. December is a good month to take stock of one‘s batting average during the past year.    

 In honor of those who perished from the typhoon and in consideration of the survivors still struggling for basic needs, we decided to scale down our Christmas celebration this year.            

 Having said that, scaling down on the celebration and giving typhoon donation do not diminish my vitriol. My anger is directed towards industrialized countries and multinationals that have no scruples when it comes to their respective carbon emissions that cause global warming. Haiyan is not going to be the first and last supertyphoon in this world. On the contrary. When the oceans continue to heat up as a result of global warming, these typhoons with wind gusts of 300 kph will continue to sprout from our oceans and hit land with apocalyptic magnitudes. With Haiyan, the world entered a new dimension of calamities with long-term recovery periods. Haiyan penetrated the Mach 1 of typhoons. From here on, it will just be mega typhoons and nothing less.

 Listed below are terminologies, definitions and web sites that provide good sources of  information on fossil fuel, carbon emissions, global warming, climate risks and renewable energy. We need to understand what these terminologies and processes are in order to take action, individually or collectively. We also need to start conversations about these issues. Climatewise, it is no longer five to 12:00. It is five after 12:00.

 The Future of Storms. The graphics of this video provide a clear explanation of how typhoons and storms form. Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/video/science/100000002555638/the-future-of-storms.html?WT.mc_id=VI-D-I-NYT-MOD-MOD-M332b-ROS-1113-HDR&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c=230637

 Global Climate Risk Index. Who suffers most from extreme weather events? This year's 8th edition of the analysis reconfirms that less developed countries are generally more affected than industrialised countries, according to the Climate Risk Index. With regard to future climate change, the Climate Risk Index can serve as a warning signal indicating past vulnerability which may further increase in regions where extreme events will become more frequent or more severe through climate change. While some vulnerable developing countries are frequently hit by extreme events, there are also some where such disasters are a rarity. Source:  http://germanwatch.org/de/5696

 Fossil Fuel. Fossil fuels are the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, contributing 3/4 of all carbon, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. Burning coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels at extremely high temperatures (combustion) is the primary means by which electricity is produced, but also leads to heavy concentrations of pollutants in our air and water. Source:  http://www.greenenergychoice.com/green-guide/fossil-fuels.html

 Government Subsidies. This web site explains why governments subsidize the mining of fossil fuel. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24833153  Just think, governments use taxpayers‘ money to encourage the production of carbon emission. Find out if your government uses your tax money for these types of subsidies.   

 Global Carbon Project. The GPC was established in 2001 in recognition of the large scientific challenges and critical nature of the carbon cycle for Earth's sustainability. The scientific goal of the project is to develop a complete picture of the global carbon cycle, including both its biophysical and human dimensions together with the interactions and feedbacks between them. Source:  http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/

 International Emission Trading. The EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) is a cornerstone of the European Union's policy to combat climate change and its key tool for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. The first - and still by far the biggest - international system for trading greenhouse gas emission allowances, the EU ETS covers more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 31 countries, as well as airlines. Source:  http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/

 Climate Change Compensation. Whether rich countries should compensate vulnerable communities like those on Kosrae, in the central Pacific, for the "loss and damage" caused by events linked to climate change has emerged as a major new issue for developing countries in the United Nations talks. Source:  http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/dec/03/climate-change-compensation-doha-talks

 Renewable Energy. Renewable energy is a socially and politically defined category of energy sources. Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources which are continually replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy

 The Tongonan geothermal field on the outskirts of Ormoc on western Leyte Island (Philippines) is the world’s second-largest producer of geothermal energy, after one in California. Yet the operation here is remarkably little known even among renewable energy experts because of its unusual history and a lingering penchant for secrecy for national security reasons. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/world/asia/font-of-natural-energy-crippled-by-storms-natural-energy.html?hp&_r=0

 Cows and Methane Gas. Are cows the cause of global warming? A cow does on average release between 70 and 120 kg of Methane per year. Methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide (CO2). But the negative effect on the climate of Methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. Therefore the release of about 100 kg Methane per year for each cow is equivalent to about 2'300 kg CO2 per year. Source: http://timeforchange.org/are-cows-cause-of-global-warming-meat-methane-CO2

 While endless discussions and numerous conferences take place to talk about the reduction of carbon emissions, concrete results are yet to be seen. As global citizens who care about our planet and its future, we need to do something now.   

 Specifically, vote for world leaders that care about global climate and political parties that address environmental care in their platforms. Write your congressmen to take a more active posit on environmental issues. Boycott multinationals that contribute to global warming. Refuse to buy stocks of companies that are known to cause extensive carbon emissions, however rewarding the dividends are. If you are the voice of your community, it is time to start those conversations about carboon foot prints. If you are a celebrity, use your fame and lend your name for environmental causes.

 And before we get swept away by the emotional high caused by Christmas shopping, please pause for a few seconds and ask: How Many Slaves Work For You?  Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/how-many-slaves-work-for-you

 Think Fair Trade. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. Source: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/what_is_fairtrade/default.aspx

 Merry Christmas everyone. Have a safe and wonderful Advent celebration.

©Edna Weisser

 December 2013