By Dr Stephen Humphreys, Lecturer in Law, London School of Economics
This much is clear: climate change will impact human rights. Rights to food, water, housing, health, ‘peaceful enjoyment of property’—all these will be affected, often on a vast scale. Thousands, or more likely millions, of people will lose their homes, their livelihoods, even their cultures. Islands will disappear leaving their inhabitants potentially stateless. Coastal cities will sink. Changing weather patterns will eliminate traditional lifestyles, such as those of the Sami reindeer herders in Norway. Droughts, floods and tornadoes will expose thousands to catastrophe. Mass upheaval and migration. War. These, at least, are the predictions of the world’s leading authority: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its last report of 2007. And although the effects could, in principle, be stopped, it is looking likely that many of them won’t be.
If the expected effects of climate change are chilling, […]
By Christine Campeau, Caritas Internationalis
Human actions are having ‘‘serious and potentially irreversible impacts’ on the warming of the Earth, according to a report published by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in April.
The report, ‘Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene’, looks at one specific area of climate impact: the melting of mountain glaciers. The co-authors detail the impact that this will have on communities living downstream from the glacier flows and to the destruction to infrastructure that could come as a result.
When this is added to the numerous other ecosystems that are changing at parallel speeds, the reality becomes frightening.
Anthropocene is term suggesting a move away from the usual shifts between ice ages to one in which the actions of humans are profoundly altering nature.
The Pontifical Academy’s research says regular ice ages and inter-glacial triggers are linked to planetary movements. These triggers normally occur every 10,000 years. However, the […]
In western Nepal’s Syangja district there’s been no snowfall for three years and water sources which used to flow all year round have run dry. The villagers know their climate is changing.
Twenty-four-year-old Sita Sharma Dhakal is worried that now rainfall is unpredictable and there are hailstorms which damage the crops. Sita studied to become a “farmer-trainer ” with Caritas Nepal and now teaches skills to other women in her village, Panchamul. “My trainees have increased their yields of cauliflower, beans and cabbages and some are even growing tomatoes in plastic greenhouses. But now for the last training course we had to pipe in water. I hope there will soon be enough in the stream again.”
Caritas Nepal in partnership with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, has helped the villagers tell their stor y of living with climate change in a new 15-minute film called “ Without Rain”. The film is being […]
Available in French and Spanish by Dan Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Coalition on Climate Change In an article appearing in U.S. Catholic magazine this coming month (April 2011—and posted in December 2010 online), I suggested that those of us in developed nations have an addiction to oil. To overcome this addiction, we might learn from the 12-step programmes that help other addicts: realizing our powerlessness over the problem; seeking a higher power to help overcome our weakness; and taking things “a day at a time” meaning that we should consider how our daily choices have consequences for a warming planet. What we buy, how we move, what we waste, how we conserve, how we spend our time: all of these things impact our planet and its people.
Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD) is working in partnership with University College London, one of the UK’s top universities to be able to better respond to climate change. They’re trying to see the threats climate change poses in the context of other hazards.
Melanie Duncan is leading the research at the university. Since commencing her work in April 2009, Melanie has carried out an analysis of the current tools developed or adopted by many of the London-based international NGOs for aiding climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
She has so far highlighted that these tools require greater integration of scientific methods, models, knowledge and data. Her work shows the interaction between hazards is largely missed, as currently most tools recognise multiple hazards, but only assess them individually at a point in time.
She travelled to the Philippines in September 2010 as part of the programme to carry out field work. […]
By Kathy Brown, Regional Coordinator, Caritas North America
In December, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change trained their first “Catholic Climate Ambassadors”. They are leaders from around the country who will reach out, educate and empower people in their local dioceses, parishes, schools, and religious communities to be engaged in this critical issue. They will provide a uniquely Catholic perspective and pay particular attention to the impacts of climate change on people in poverty in the U.S. and around the world.
The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched in 2006 to help the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic community address issues related to climate change. The Coalition is comprised of over ten national Catholic organisations in the United States, including the bishops’ conference, Caritas members Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, and men and women religious leadership conferences.
In order to expand the reach of the […]
By Salvador Urteaga, Consultant Emergency for Caritas Mexico
Mexicans have recently experienced larger and more frequent natural disasters previously unknown in our history. The list includes hurricanes, heavy rains, landslides and floods in some regions and water scarcity in others.
The most disadvantaged peoples are being affected the hardest. Aside from those living in rural communities, those living in cities have had to reinforce their infrastructure to offset hurricane or heavy rains. As climate change increases, there will be more disastrous consequences for communities living in extremely vulnerable places.
Tabasco saw rivers breaking their banks and the flooding of almost the entire city. Tragedies such as these open up the possibility of future breaks in the dam which would result in the need to evacuate a million people, the loss of human lives and the loss of assets such as crops, livestock, infrastructure.
The people of Monterrey believed that they were equipped to […]
By Samson Malesi Shivaji, National Livelihoods Coordinator, Caritas Kenya
Unusual rain, inconsistent water supply, high temperatures overall and extreme heat in some places, windy conditions, reduced farming outputs with greater costs, conflict and people forced from their homes.
In Kenya, the definition of climate change to the ordinary person in the village is devoid of scientific and technical parameters. Instead, the definition is the reality of everyday challenges that such an ordinary person has to live with from dawn to dusk.
The impact of climate change in Kenya hits hard on the resources of poor homes and they don’t have the capacity to combat its affects. The international debate on climate change does not resonate with the ordinary man or woman in Kenya. They are more concerned with how to cope with the challenges posed by the changes.
Food security is key to development. This is particularly important in Kenya, since the agricultural […]
By Christine Campeau, Climate and Food Security Advisor, Caritas Internationalis
The sixteenth conference of parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded on 10 December 2010 with Patricia Espinoza, Mexico’s foreign minister welcoming the Cancun Agreements.
The conference has sparked renewed hope in the overall UNFCCC process and, thanks to the dedication of the Mexican Presidency, restored credibility in its transparent working methods.
It also showed the willingness of governments to work together under the UNFCCC framework – a place where the voices and concerns of the poorer countries carry equal weight to the richer ones.
After two weeks of intensive negotiations by almost two hundred countries, the major achievement of COP16 was the creation of a Green Climate Fund. This fund will receive and distribute up to $100 billion a year by 2020, becoming a major channel for the financial assistance that will help nations cope with negative effects […]
By Christine Campeau, Climate and Food Security Advisor, Caritas Internationalis
Working on climate justice issues over the past few years, I spend a lot time learning how people around the world are adapting to climate change.
I was recently fortunate to experience a unique example of adaptability in Southeast Asia, where I took a trip to the floating villages of Kompong Khleang to see how a local community in Cambodia has dealt with the constant shift in water levels upon which they live.
Kompong Kleang is a fishing village that sits on the Tonle Sap Lake, which stretches across the northwest portion of the country. During the rainy season, this lake swells fivefold, flooding the surrounding forest floodplains and supporting an extremely diverse eco-system.
This phenomenon is natural and has nothing to do with to the effects of climate change. However, the floating village could be used as a lesson on how to […]