Undergoing Maintenance (Again) 0

Environmental Destruction by Arend van Dam 0

Environmental Destruction by Arend van Dam. Via Cagle Cartoons. Used with permission.

Environmental Destruction by Arend van Dam. Via Cagle Cartoons. Used with permission.

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Arend van Dam is a Dutch political cartoonist whose work has appeared in Reformed Netherlands, Central Weekly, Time, the Financial Times, and the Agrarian Dagblad among others. In addition to his cartoon work, he is also a book illustrator. He sometimes works under the pseudonym Zetbe.

Arend has won a number of international awards, including the Golden Palm at the 1972 Salone Internazionale dell’Umorismo in Bordighera, Italy, and the prize of the Ministry of Rijkswaterstaat at the ninth Eindhoven Dutch Cartoon Festival. In addition to his work as a political cartoonist, he lectures on organizational psychology.

View more of Arend’s work at PoliticalCartoons.com.

The Green Patriarch: A Voice for the Environment and Humanity 0

“At the heart of the relationship between man and environment is the relationship between human beings.” ~ Patriarch Bartholomew

By Andreas Euripides Christou

Andreas Euripides Christou is a student clinician who serves on the Community Energy Team of Pace Academy’s Environmental Policy Clinic.

In the 2009 documentary The Green Patriarch, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, said:


Patriarch Bartholomew celebrates the Liturgy. Source: Ohrid Archbishopric [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin; for human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation, for human beings to contaminate the Earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life, all of these are sins.

As Patriarch of the world’s second-largest Christian Church, Bartholomew has gained an international reputation as a prominent environmentalist and humanitarian. He has used his position to lend the support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (the “Vatican” of the Orthodox Church) to many international causes, and has received numerous awards for his leadership, among them, the Congressional Gold Medal.

From his early days in office, the Ecumenical Patriarch has made care for the environment one of his top priorities. His strategy has been “connecting people who have the power to save the environment with people who have the knowledge.”

This leader of 300 million faithful has brought together religious leaders of multiple faiths, including Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, with scientists, government officials, media representatives, environmental activists, and ordinary citizens — uniquely in a series of shipboard symposiums, such as one convened aboard a passenger ship off Greenland. These symposiums host briefings and debates utilizing the combined expertise of interests who historically have not gotten along to arrive at possible solutions.

Commenting for the documentary,  Dr. Ravi Ravinda, a professor of physics and comparative religion said:

What is interesting about the Orthodox Church’s environmental initiative is that, as far as I am aware, this is the only group where the initiative is being actually taken by, or at least involves, the very highest church authority.

An active supporter of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD), Patriarch Bartholomew has worked to explore collaborative efforts between the ICSD and the Orthodox Church and participated in multiple ICSD conferences regarding ecological sustainability. He has also committed the Orthodox Church to participate in the United Planet Faith and Science Initiative, a group of ecological advocates that use science and religious leaders to promote public awareness, political will, policy, and action.

For more than a decade, Patriarch Bartholomew has held international ecological seminars every summer at the Theological School of Halki, an island near Istanbul. These seminars are sponsored by the Patriarch and Prince Philip, the founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC). Following the Patriarch’s lead, numerous Orthodox monasteries and churches in Eastern Europe and the United States have switched to solar energy in recent years.

In 2012, reports of record melting of the earth’s ice sheets and extreme droughts gave increased support to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s messages about the degradation of the natural world. In an encyclical the same year, Bartholomew boldly stated that “biodiversity was not granted to humanity for its unruly control; by the same token, dominion over the earth and its environs implies rational use and enjoyment of its benefits, and not destructive acquisition of its resources out of a sense of greed.”

In his tireless efforts to bring attention to both environmental rights and human obligations, Patriarch Bartholomew has repeatedly criticized over-consumption of natural resources by first world countries and the lack of justice that causes growing inequality in developing nations.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has also spoken on World Oceans Day, highlighting their ecological benefits and the fact that the world’s oceans and seas are quite threatened, and outlining the massive pollution and human ignorance.

During an address to an environmental symposium at Saint Barbara, California, in 1997, Patriarch Bartholomew said:

We believe that our first task is to raise the consciousness of adults who most use the resources and gifts of the planet. Ultimately, it is for our children that we must perceive our every action in the world as having a direct effect upon the future of the environment. At the heart of the relationship between man and environment is the relationship between human beings. More

Oil Industry and Climate Change by Patrick Chappatte 0

Oil industry and climate change_sm

Oil Industry and Climate Change by Patrick Chappate. Via Cagle Cartoons. Used with permission.

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chappatte-headshot-articleInlinePatrick Chappatte is an editorial cartoonist for The International New York Times, formerly known as the International Herald Tribune, which has published his work since 2001. His cartoons have been featured in five books published by the newspaper. The latest collection, “Stress Test,” was released in 2012.He is also a regular contributor to the European newspapers Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Le Temps. Earlier in his career, he contributed to The New York Times Book Review and created a comic strip for Newsweek International called “Rob the Cybernaut.”

Mr. Chappatte has collaborated with editorial cartoonists in conflict-ridden countries with the goal of promoting dialogue through cartooning. These projects focused on Serbia, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Kenya and Guatemala. He described the work in a TED talk in 2010.

Patrick’s full bio at The International New York Times.

Ebola Isn’t About Bodily Fluids; It’s About Poverty, Lack of Infrastructure and Environmental Destruction 0

Doctors Without Borders staff at Ebola management center in Monrovia, Liberia. By Caitlin Ryan, Via MSF.   Follow this link to donate to Doctors Without Borders.

Doctors Without Borders staff at Ebola management center in Monrovia, Liberia. By Caitlin Ryan, Via MSF. Follow this link to donate to Doctors Without Borders.

The Ebola story has much in common with global environmental catastrophes such as the water crisis, food insecurity, and deforestation — “the terrorism of poverty,” is how Harvard Professor Paul Farmer characterized the crisis in a recent Washington Post article.

“There’s a reason the case fatality rate is 80 percent in rural Africa and 0 percent in Americans and Europeans who get out in time and get proper medical care,” Farmer said.

He said the world needs to bridge the “know-do gap,” the disconnect between what gets planned in conferences among elite global health leaders and what actually is happening on the front lines of medical care.

While many news accounts would have us believe the spread of Ebola is caused by the exchange of bodily fluids with West Africans, the current Esquire offers a more informed view from evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald of the University of Louisville:

Look at where it’s spreading, it’s in a place where they don’t have good infrastructure and health care.  It’s in a place where they don’t have the basics of isolation and infection control.  And so even though it has a very low infection rate, the conditions are so bad that it keeps smoldering along.

Last August, Voice of America reported on a conversation with Tulane University virus expert Dr. Daniel Bausch who explained Ebola’s causal relationship with poverty, deforestation and hunger:

Like the health systems, many people in Ebola-stricken regions lack the resources to get by. And that puts them at risk.

As they cut down forests for charcoal and to grow food, Bausch says they are driving the bats thought to carry the virus out into the open.

“With deforestation, bats that ordinarily would be foraging for fruit within fairly remote areas inside the forest now are forced to come out and look for fruit, for example, mango trees that may be in the proximity of humans and bring them closer to humans and have more of a chance of introduction of the virus,” said Bausch.

And poverty is also driving people deeper into the forest in search of food, including so-called “bushmeat,” which is known to carry the virus.

David Quamen, author of Ebola: The Natural and Human History, told National Geographic, “The primary factor is poverty”:

The severity of this outbreak in West Africa reflects not only the transmissibility of the disease, but also the sad circumstances of poverty and the chronic lack of medical care, infrastructure, and supplies. That’s really what this is telling us: that we need to try harder to imagine just what it’s like to be poor in Africa. One of the consequences of being poor in Africa, especially in a country like Liberia or Sierra Leone, which have gone through a lot of political turmoil and have weak governance and a shortage of medical resources, is that the current outbreak could turn into an epidemic.

As with environmental issues in the developing world, such as the childhood diarrhea epidemic caused by widespread water contamination, only direct intervention can prevent a downward spiral of poverty and public health. David Quamen:

It’s not just the toll directly from Ebola that is the tragedy. It’s the indirect toll too—the destruction of the economy and education, as well as the health care system. People are dying more of malaria and pneumonia and childhood diarrheal diseases because the health care system has been overwhelmed with Ebola.


EarthDesk is Undergoing Maintenance 0

People in the Third World by Paul Fitzgerald 0

Cartoon by Paul Fitzgerald, via Cartoon Stock.  Used with Permission.

Cartoon by Paul Fitzgerald, via Cartoon Stock. Used with Permission.

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From cartoonist Paul Fitzgerald’s website:  I’ve been scratching ‘Polyp’ political cartoons since 1980 (for Leeds Student Newspaper) and took it up full time in the 90′s, having been a care worker before then. New Internationalist Magazine, bless ‘em, gave me my first big break, turning over a whole issue to STARVE TREK, a political spoof of Captain James Knee Jerk beaming neoliberal politics down to reluctant planets throughout the galaxy. I owe them my career, I guess… THANK YOU, NI! Since then I’ve drawn cartoons for anyone who’ll have me, including Ethical Consumer Magazine, WDM, Christian Aid, War on Want, The Big Issue, Friends of the Earth, FoE, Liberty, People and Planet, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, and all the other usual suspects.Paul Fitzgerald on Facebook.

The Environment – Poverty Collide 0

Beached whale comforted by 10 rescuers.  Via Wikimedia Commons; Homeless veteran, Boston, MA. By Matthew Woitunski [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Beached whale comforted by 10 rescuers. Via Wikimedia Commons; Homeless veteran, Boston, MA. By Matthew Woitunski [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Last December, I wrote an EarthDesk post that called upon American environmentalism to turn its attention to poverty and homelessness. A reader replied on Facebook that she resented the implication environmentalists ignore the poor, as she and others were fighting poverty by fighting climate change.

I have heard this proposition often, from seasoned colleagues as well as the young and fervent. It would befuddle most of America’s 46 million who are living in poverty610,000 who are homeless, and 17.5 million who are food insecure, as well as the 1.3 billion citizens of the developing world who suffer from extreme poverty.

Stark as these statistics are, they do not tell the entire story, or illustrate the multiplier effect these populations suffer, domestically and overseas: poor health and inadequate medical care, bad water resources, lack of education, communities of dangerous environmental quality, civil unrest, crime and a pervasive hopelessness about their prospects ever changing.

This rift between environmentalism and the less privileged is not new. The environmental justice movement was founded to cure it. But, like my Facebook friend, many environmentalists then came to believe that making the world safe for the poor was synonymous with solving poverty itself.

In the United States, we have reasoned our way into thousands of questionable adventures that placed the core issue of poverty in the policy backseat. Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now against ISIL, are approaching the $2 trillion mark. Smaller examples abound, such as NASA’s “low-cost” $79 million LCROSS mission to locate 24 gallons of water on the moon — yes, a random example, but hundreds of billions of dollars of others can be named with staggering ease.

None of this is to say these appropriations would have otherwise made their way to social programs. They would not have; nor is there a powerful enough voice to assure they could, particularly in the nation’s capital where the cause of the middle-class is an obsession. The environmental movement could help change that.

The environment – poverty divide takes on added significance when considering the plight of the global disenfranchised, within the context of climate change, and the nagging truth that industrialization has made the developed world far better off.

A statement by India’s new environmental minister, Prakash Javadekar, reported in the September 24  New York Times, makes the point:

The moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away. . . India’s first task is eradication of poverty. . . Twenty percent of our population doesn’t have access to electricity, and that’s our top priority. We will grow faster, and our emissions will rise.

Minister Javadekar, and the conundrum to which he has given voice, will find sympathetic ears. In the September 26 Chicago Sun Times, Patrick Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, wrote that human lives in the developing world will benefit from economies built by dirty fuels. In the meantime, the planet will continue its slow movement toward cleaner technologies:

The only way out of mass poverty is industrialization. Every rich country is industrial. All the poorest ones are not. We can understand the global warming debate only by keeping this basic truth in mind.

. . . [T]he trade-off is clear. If we have to weigh actual lives saved against hypothetical future ones endangered, we are right to choose the actual ones. Besides, far more future lives will end prematurely without the continued spread of fossil-fueled industrialization than with it.

I am invariably on the opposite side of the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank founded by Charles Koch and others. Business, government and citizens need order and rules — a hardwired requirement we do not outgrow after childhood. But a statement in a recent commentary by Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger caught my attention because of its essential truth, and chilling reminder, for American environmentalists in particular:

[W]hile developing countries pursue  “luxuries” like indoor lighting and clean cooking facilities (not to mention improved sanitation), developed countries are awash in the luxury of debating whether to alter the relative components of their fuel mix.

Poverty, hunger, homelessness — these speak to a fundamental failure by society and the global economy. They are undeniable evidence of immediate catastrophes at-large within our own species. They are not subsets of environmental affairs. Their persistence is measured in millennia — not in time elapsed since the industrial revolution.

The environmental movement can avoid a collision course with the interests of our poor and disenfranchised, fellow homo sapiens if it takes on their case based upon its own merits — as a preeminent cause that stands beside, not behind, global challenges such as climate change, the worldwide water crisis, toxic contamination and pervasive habitat destruction.   More

Pace Environmental Policy Clinic Reports for Duty 0

L to R: Alexandra Catalano, Alyssa Vilas Boas, Andreas Christou, Jaclyn Barbato, Jessica Alba, Anthony Morgan-Jones, Haylei Peart, Kiefer Kofman, Mychael Lotocky, Nadya Hall, Carlos Villamayor Ledesma.

L to R: Alexandra Catalano, Alyssa Vilas Boas, Andreas Christou, Jaclyn Barbato, Jessica Alba, Anthony Morgan-Jones, Haylei Peart, Kiefer Kofman, Mychael Lotocky, Nadya Hall, Carlos Villamayor Ledesma.

Pace Academy’s Fall 2014 Environmental Policy Clinicians reported for duty with a full docket awaiting from their Spring 2014 colleagues: community energy, wildlife protection, invasive plants, food justice, circus animals, and nightsky pollution. We will follow them as they earn their six credits representing clients Village of Ossining, Westchester Land Trust, International Dark-Sky Association, and Pace Center for Community Action and Research.

Follow the Clinic’s ePolicy blog where our clinicians post first-hand, up-to-the-minute briefings and developments on their cases. More to come from our new and outstanding members of the Pace Academy family.

Art for the People’s Climate March 0

This week’s EarthDesk Sunday features poster art created for today’s People’s Climate March. For more information about some of the art and artists visit the websites Creative Resistance and Just Seeds.