The EnvComm Blog

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Núria Almiron's picture

Thanks to IECA, I had the opportunity to attend the first week of the Bonn climate change conference (SB50) held from 17 to 27 June. I was interested in experiencing first-hand the move the UNFCCC secretariat is apparently making towards an acceptance of the role that animal agriculture plays in global warming. Though not incorporated in any way in the political talks so far, the impact of food on the climate, and especially of animal-based food, has been acknowledged by the IPCC, the FAO and the UNEP for some time now, besides many papers published by independent researchers and organizations.

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Gregg Walker's picture

Hello colleagues,

A few years ago I signed on to the Climate Reality Project (CRP), an initiative that former Vice President Al Gore founded in 2006.  The featured program of the CRP is the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, an effort to train people to be climate change/crisis communicators and educators.  Since 2006, the Climate Reality Leadership Corps program has conducted 41 training workshops involving 19,000 people.  The first training took place on Gore's Tennessee farm with about 40 participants.  I just participated in the 41st training in Brisbane, Australia - one of 800 participants.

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Stephen Depoe's picture

IECA colleagues: I am sad to report that will not be able to attend COCE 2019 in Vancouver next week due to a family emergency at home. Congratulations in advance to the IECA board, conference committee chair Geo Takach, and Executive Director Mark Meisner for hosting what looks to be a marvelous conference. I will be participating remotely in my Wednesday session, chaired by Jill Hopke, on teaching innovation.

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Matthew Nisbet's picture

As climate change advocates, we are often told to be more like our political opponents: more ruthless, more cunning, more aggressive, more willing to bend facts to our side, and more committed to the most audacious and ambitious policies, regardless of their flaws.

We are all too quick to rally around the banner of those voices that emphasize “us versus them,” “good versus bad,” and “winning versus losing.” We view those opposed to action on climate change as extreme but seldom apply the same label to those on our side.

Yet the more we become angry and the more we catastrophize about the future, the less likely we are to find common ground or even be able to treat our political opponents as human beings, I argued in a May 1 address to the American Climate Leadership Summit held in Washington, D.C.

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Jill Hopke's picture

On Tuesday the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation jointly announced a new project, “Covering Climate Change: A New Playbook for a 1.5-Degree World,” with the goal of improving climate change reporting among U.S. media with a one-day town hall in New York City at the Columbia Journalism School.

In the interest of not contributing carbon-emissions by traveling from Chicago to New York, I followed along via the event’s live-stream, an archive of which is available on YouTube. In an important element of user-generated content, London-based freelance environmental journalist Juan Mayorga provided Spanish translation via Twitter.

One theme of the day was that climate change is the context for all sorts of stories, not just ones about climate science. “Climate is not a story,” said panelist and author Naomi Klein. “It is the backdrop for all of our other stories. It is life.”

The #CoveringClimateNow project is well-timed and needed. It’s long overdue, for that matter. The IPCC’s special report on 1.5 °C warming in the fall, along with the U.S. Fourth National Climate Assessment, again sounded the alarm on climate change. Media coverage of climate change in relation to extreme weather events in 2018, from heat waves to wildfires, or the lack thereof, elicited public discussion, especially commentary that media outlets weren’t doing enough to draw connections to climate change. NPR Public Editor Elizabeth Jensen opined on factors that continue to make climate change a challenge for journalists to cover, particularly for non-climate beat reporters covering breaking news. My research on the extent to which media coverage of extreme weather events discusses climate issues shows that for both heat waves and wildfires, climate change issue attention increased significantly from summer 2013 to 2018.

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Matthew Nisbet's picture

The Green New Deal has done damage to the Democratic party’s chances heading into the 2020 elections, while hurting efforts to build momentum on behalf of climate and energy policy options capable of passing during an era of enduring divided government, I argue in a new “Sciences, Politics, Publics” column at Issues in Science and Technology magazine.

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Matthew Nisbet's picture

Last October, the headlines that ran across my computer screen left a sickening feeling in my stomach. “Major climate report describes a strong risk of crisis as early as 2040,” warned the New York Times. “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say,” echoed the Washington Post.

The next morning felt to me like the day after the 2016 election, I write in an essay published last week at Scientific American

The new U.N. climate change report had transformed society’s failures, so obvious yet overlooked for so long, into a reality that left me paralyzed by doubt. Given the stakes involved, should I remain a researcher and academic, should I turn to activism, or should I become something else?

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Matthew Nisbet's picture

The details of a proposed Green New Deal, announced this week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, are sure to elevate the political agenda status of climate change and be celebrated by many political progressives.
 
But as I argue in a commentary at Scientific American, we should be wary about what the Green New Deal will do to the already contentious debate over climate change, since it poses deeply challenging consequences for how we think and talk about the problem moving forward, turning policy action into a litmus test for political leaders.
 
The Ocasio-Markey plan pairs the goal of zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity and transportation sectors with longstanding progressive causes that include creating a government job program, increasing unionization, providing universal health insurance, reducing income inequality, and combating gender and racial discrimination.
 
With this new re-framing, actions to address climate change not only mean fully transitioning away from a fossil-fuel dependent society in a matter of decades, already a tough sell for conservatives and many centrists, but this historically unprecedented transition is now only achievable by transforming the U.S. into a social democracy.

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Etsuko Kinefuchi's picture

I was told that COPs are overwhelming, and it certainly was. Previously, my main source of information about what is going on at these conferences was the news. As we are well aware from media framing theories, all representations champion selected aspects of an event while leaving out others, constructing a certain reality for the audience. As my co-participant for the 2nd week of the conference, Mira, posted earlier, there were a whole lot more activities going on besides the diplomats’ negotiations to which observers had almost no access. At any given time, there were multiple concurrent side events – panel presentations, press conferences, workshops and more. Most of these are open to everyone, but some were accessible by invitation. It was interesting to attend the COP and compare my experience to news media’s reports. I want to focus this reflection on the aspects of the conference that did not get widely reported in the news media. The news media understandably focus on the progress of the high-level negotiations that were stagnant throughout the conference. However, what’s left out of the reports are vibrant grassroots and non-governmental efforts to connect, collaborate, and share across the nations. A roundtable discussion on climate education I participated, for example, was facilitated by the Center for Environmental Education in India. Participants across the globe discussed challenges, resources and indicators of meaningful outcomes in promoting literacy and capacity to face climate change. I was able to learn from and share ideas with people from countries in Latin America, Africa, and Europe.

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

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Anna Palliser's picture

Chui-Ling Tam’s blog of Dec 4th ‘Why we should stop labelling people climate change deniers’ reminded me of a conversation with a Māori freedom diver on South Island New Zealand, several years ago. Many locals were saying the fish stocks in their harbor had declined dramatically because of overfishing but the diver refused to engage with these perspectives. He said the harbor was a strange place and he spoke a lot about Tangaroa, the Māori god of the sea. It was clear he passionately loved the sea and all its lifeforms, and I could not understand the position he took. I was a newcomer to Aotearoa New Zealand at that time, and while I still don’t fully understand, I think I understand better now. I think he considered the number of fish in the harbor was Tangaroa’s business, not ours, that it is arrogant for humans to assume the ability to control such things. Lately, wandering the endless corridors of COP 24 in Poland, I have been thinking about his perspective.

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

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