Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis inspires Local Citizens to Act on Climate

By David Kowalski

Last Thursday, Pope Francis spoke to Congress and reminded the members about his Encyclical on man-made climate change. "I call for a courageous and responsible effort to 'redirect our steps' and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity," Francis said.

It is the consensus of climate scientists that human activity is to blame. Primarily due to burning fossil fuels in industrialized countries, the atmosphere is rapidly accumulating levels of greenhouse gases far exceeding those observed over the past 800,000 years.

Consequently, the planet is experiencing a record-breaking warming trend, causing ice at the poles and glaciers to melt, sea-levels to rise and deadly heat waves. Severe droughts and uncontrollable wildfires are occurring in some locations, while unprecedented floods are happening in others.

On the same day that Francis spoke to Congress, citizens gathered at Niagara Square in Buffalo for a rally: Rise Up for Climate Justice! People from all walks of life participated: Faith leaders, community activists, students, teachers, indigenous people, environmentalists, performers, union leaders and local politicians.

The rally is the beginning of a citizen campaign leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference at the end of the year. Government leaders from around the world will meet and aim to arrive at a universal, legally-binding agreement to address the problems of global warming and climate change.

Paris will be the site of the 21st of such conferences. In the past, most governments, including our own, have failed to come to a binding agreement. Consequently, the problems have worsened and become more harmful to humans and more difficult and expensive to solve.

We can no longer delay. This is a crisis and governments must agree on global solutions now!

And so we rallied in Buffalo to call attention to the environmental pollution and the climate crisis impacting the lives and well-being of humans here and around the globe.

We rallied to call attention to the injustices of the crisis. Poor, undeveloped countries, least responsible for the pollution problem, remain susceptible to the impacts but lack the resources to adapt. Furthermore, our own children and future generations will inherit the consequences of the pollution problems that human activity is creating now.

We rallied for practical solutions to the crisis, including:
  1. Adopt energy efficiency measures to reduce both energy usage and global warming pollution
  2. End subsidies and investments for dirty fossil fuels
  3. Invest in clean, sustainable energy
And we rallied so that our elected leaders will hear our message and feel our frustration concerning government inaction.

We need strong leaders to rise up to the challenges of the crisis and to realize the benefits and opportunities that will result from solving the crisis.

We need to remind our elected officials that there is a climate crisis and that they need to recognize it and take action. Finally, we need to elect strong leaders who are not beholden to the polluting industries responsible for the crisis.

For more information and photos of the Rally for Climate Justice, click here

Current Climate Pledges are not enough to limit Global Warming to 2 deg. C (3.6 deg. F)!

Buffalo Rally for Climate Justice -- Photos and Videos

SCIENCE tells us we must stop burning fossil fuels to curb greenhouse gas pollution that causes global warming and drives Climate Change.

JUSTICE for People, Future Generations and our Environment demands that we act in earnest NOW.

WE RALLIED for Climate Justice at Niagara Square in Buffalo on Sept. 24, 2015 in solidarity with Pope Francis, a champion for the environment and social justice, who addressed the U.S. Congress on that same day.

Some highlights of the Rally shown in a 1 minute Video Slide Show with music:

Photos & Video: D.Kowalski   

Photo Album of the Rally with video clips:

To open the Photo Album, Click on the image below:

Rally for Climate Justice
Photos: D.Kowalski, Nate Schneekloth; others cited
HINTS for navigating the Photo Album after you open it:
- Hover the mouse pointer over a photo to see the Caption.
- Click on a photo to Enlarge it to full size.

List of Moderators, Speakers and Performers (Click image to enlarge):
- Speakers included Faith leaders, environmentalists, students, teachers, indigenous people, performers, union leaders and local politicians.

Moderators included Lynda Schneekloth, Sierra Club Niagara Group; Advocacy Chair, WNY Environmental Alliance; and,
Roger Cook, Convener, WNY Interfaith Climate Justice Community

Opening Remarks by Lynda Schneekloth, Click Here

Closing Remarks by Lynda Schneekloth are shown below (Click image to enlarge):

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rise Up for Climate Justice! Rally at Niagara Square on THURSDAY

All are invited to attend a CLIMATE RALLY in Buffalo: 

 Rise Up for Climate Justice! 

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 24 at 5pm; *Festivities at 4pm
The same day Pope Francis meets with the U.S. Congress and is expected to call for moral action to address the injustice of human-caused Climate Change as laid out in his recent Encyclical.

WHERE:  Niagara Square in Buffalo, NY 
MAP with Metro Rail stations & Bus routes, Click Here 

SPEAKERS include members of: Physicians for Social Responsibility, WNY Interfaith Climate Justice Community, Buffalo Common Council, Sierra Club Niagara Group, PUSH Buffalo, Seneca Nation, and other groups.

- Facebook: Click Here - Invite your Friends! 
- Not a Facebook user? Sign up Here

*Pre-RALLY FESTIVITIES: Live Music, Song, Dance and Fun!

SCIENCE tells us we must stop burning fossil fuels to curb greenhouse gas pollution that causes global warming and drives Climate Change. 

JUSTICE for People and our Environment demands that we act in earnest NOW. 
WE THE PEOPLE call on President Obama and elected officials to back a global, legally-binding agreement to combat Climate Change and provide the necessary support for a Just Transition from fossil fuels to Clean, Sustainable Energy.

Please sign the Climate Justice Pledge  petitioning Obama for bold Climate Action.

For more information visit:

Climate Change Roundup: Social Injustice, Refugee Crisis, Energy Solutions and Economic Impacts

Pope urges closer cooperation to tackle climate change 

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday greeted participants at an international meeting of the Foundation for Sustainable Development which is focused on environmental justice and climate change. Noting the grave threats that our environment is facing today, the Pope stressed that the poor are always those who suffer most from the consequences of climate change.

The issue of climate change is a question of justice and solidarity, Pope Francis said, which affects the dignity of individuals, communities and nations. Science and technology, he continued, have placed in our hands unprecedented power: it is our duty to humanity, and in particular towards the poor and the future generations, to use it for the common good.
Read more Here.

Climate-forced migrations and prospect of refugee crises concern experts

President Barack Obama, speaking this month to an international conference in Alaska about the impact of climate change in the Arctic, cited longstanding concerns that climate change may create more refugees to underscore his call for international action at a diplomatic climate conference in Paris later this year.

If the climate-change “trend lines” charted by scientists continue, “there’s not going to be a nation on this earth that’s not impacted negatively,” Obama said. “People will suffer. Economies will suffer. Entire nations will find themselves under severe, severe problems. More drought; more floods; rising sea levels; greater migration; more refugees; more scarcity; more conflict.

Drought and its consequences are everywhere in the news these days. Scientists recently calculated that global warming has intensified California’s record-breaking drought, now in its fourth year, by as much as 20 percent. The Syrian civil war, which has displaced millions and fed into what is thought to be the largest mass migrations since World War II, was primed by warming-enhanced drought at home that crippled growers, researchers concluded in another study published this year. And drought inspired Russia, a major supplier to the Middle East, to stop all wheat exports.

And while it hasn’t received as much media attention in the U.S., droughts of similar intensities have been unfolding across Central America, Colombia and Brazil.

Read more Here.

VIDEO: "Dear World"
Pope Francis has called on people of all faiths to come together to take action on climate change and protect “our common home.”

NextGen Climate launched a national campaign calling on our leaders to stand with Pope Francis and embrace clean energy solutions that protect our common home and secure our children’s future. 

Will you stand with Francis? Will you embrace clean energy solutions? 

Candidates shouldn't wait to address climate change

What should we do about climate change? When Jake Tapper asked that question at the Republican debate Wednesday night, the candidates were united in their view that the economic costs of fighting climate change are much larger than the potential benefits.

Given that, and the voluminous scientific evidence indicating that global warming is a substantial threat, it's important to understand the extent to which climate change will affect the economy. 

The Stern review, an often cited, well-known study of the effects of climate change commissioned by the U.K. government, found that the impacts would be substantial:
...if we don't act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more.
In contrast, the costs of action - reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change -- can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year. ...
The message was clear. We must act now to mitigate the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, or face dire consequences in coming decades.

Read the full article at CBS Money Watch

CLIMATE ACTION: A 'Hail Mary Pass' to Protect People and the Planet

'Rise Up for Climate Justice' Rally in Niagara Square
Rally will follow the Pope’s speech to Congress Thursday, September 24 on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Paris, December 2015

by Larry Beahan

A hundred and fifty nations are meeting at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015. Let us pray that they will come to a workable and binding agreement that will put us on a path to zero greenhouse gasses before New York and New Orleans are totally inundated and California is scorched beyond habitability.

Agreed, church and state should be well insulated from one another, usually.  But with our planet on a deadly track for carbon-fueled climate disaster and with our politicians fumbling the ball, a prayer or two, maybe even a Hail Mary Pass is in order.

On TV the other night eleven presidential candidates vied for that quarterback-slot.  These eleven apostles of doom, one after another, washed their hands of the climate warming crisis. Meanwhile the religious leaders of the world have all dropped their prayer books and demanded that we quit strangling this God-given planet with fossil fuel fumes.

In August, Muslim leaders from twenty countries called on the 1.6 billion Muslims to phase out greenhouse gas by midcentury.

But Florida Senator Marco Rubio says, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.” His teammate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said “We shouldn’t be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild, left-wing idea that somehow, us, by ourselves, are going to fix the climate.”

Yet the leaders of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches urge in a letter to the NY Times, that the nations of the world craft a clear and convincing course of decarbonization at the Paris Conference.

President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency issued its CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan that delivers the death blow to coal as a source of electric power, yet the President has authorized drilling for oil near the dwindling Arctic ice cap.

In May, three hundred and forty Jewish rabbis released a Rabbinic letter on Climate Crisis calling for, “spiritual leadership of the Jewish people in this deep crisis in the history of the human species.”

And Donald Trump says, “I consider climate change to be not one of our big problems. I consider it to be not a big problem at all. I think it’s weather.”
The Dalai Lama disagrees. He calls on governments around the world to stop deforestation and stop burning fossil fuels. He says, “It is not sufficient to just express views, we must set a timetable for change in the next two to four years.”

Jeb Bush brushes off climate change, “I don’t think it’s the highest priority. I don’t think we should ignore it, either.

Good Pope Francis is coming to the US on September 24th to deliver what is expected to be a “Dutch Uncle” lecture to the US Congress. He will likely remind us that the United States has pumped carbon into the skies for generations, to profit this country but at great cost to poorer nations.  He needs to say that if climate change is to be curbed the United States will have to lead with a war-time, Manhattan Project-style total mobilization away from coal and gas and on to solar, wind and geothermal energy.

So here goes a Hail Mary that Pope Francis will succeed in persuading our politicians to go to the Paris UN Climate Change Conference in December and come away with binding agreements to cut greenhouse gasses by at least 40% in 2025 and 85% in 2050.

The environmental, social justice and religious communities of Western NY are united in the “Rise up for Climate Justice” campaign.  Join them at 5pm in Niagara Square on September 24 to demonstrate Buffalo’s support of Pope Francis on his Hail Mary mission to Washington.

This article was originally published in The Public

For more information on the Rise Up for Climate Justice Rally, click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Citizen Science Workshop on Pollution to be held in Tonawanda

A daylong citizen science workshop and conference on environmental pollution will be held Saturday in the Sheridan Parkside Community Center, 169 Sheridan Parkside Drive, Town of Tonawanda.

The free workshop begins at 9:30 a.m. with breakfast, continues at 10 a.m. with speaker presentations and concludes at 5 p.m.

Participants will learn how citizens used scientific data to hold Tonawanda Coke accountable for pollution, and how to use monitoring tools to test their own air, soil and water. Residents can bring a small bag of soil to have it tested for the presence of heavy metals. Updates on civil and federal actions taken against Tonawanda Coke will also be given.

A bus tour of toxic sites in Western New York is scheduled from 3:45 until 9 p.m. Friday. Registration is required.

For more information, visit, call 873-6191 or email The workshop is organized by Citizen Science Community Resources and Global Community Monitor.