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Nov 242010

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Checking email this morning, I expected the usual cascade of dire predictions for the upcoming Cancun climate conference; the new Congress; soldiers in the Middle East and our continuing U.S. oil dependence.

All that was there — plus the deficit, the health crisis, corruption on Wall Street. It seems like Lord Voldemort has slipped off the big screen to suck out our souls, and usher in dark times.

The Mexican red wolf faces extinction in the U.S.

Clouds are gathering. We have got to curb carbon emissions and change the way we eat, travel, burn energy and destroy natural resources. And by many accounts we are failing.

Here in our green corner, we’ve posted a few humble suggestions for change, to get you thinking about greener gifts and more energy efficient holiday lights, some of the easy changes we can all make. And even that seems like shaking a stick at a tornado.

The world chaos in my email and on my Twitter feed demands more. And yet, between the lines, this morning there was a surprising amount of hopeful news. People are fighting for a better future around the world and in many, varied arenas. They are trying to save the planet, preserve wildlife and ecosystems, every day.

So this Thanksgiving, I submit that we have much to be thankful for. And here’s why:

  • World leaders have convened a summit in St. Petersburg to try to save wild tigers from extinction. Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $1 million to the World Wildlife Fund for this mission.  As few as 3,200 tigers remain in the wild in Asia, because of loss of habitat and poaching. That’s down from about 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th Century. Hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the leaders are expected to announce a Global Tiger Recovery Program aimed at doubling tiger populations by 2022. See Save Tigers Now for more information.
  • The Society for Conservation Biology sent an outline to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior outlining ways to help save the Mexican red wolf in the Southwest. The recovery plan would include releasing Mexican wolves into their native habitat in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest and working with other federal agencies, like the Forestry Service, to help the wolves reestablish themselves. Many wildlife biologists believe that native predators help sustain ecosystems.
  • Leading businesses meeting in Paris have signed the World Wildlife Fund’s “Tuna Market Manifesto,” pledging not to buy or sell Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna, until this species can recover from overfishing. The bluefin, popularly used in sushi, is near collapse after years of mismanagement and overfishing, according to the WWF. But even businesses recognize that sustainability will help everyone. Stepping up to the task are Carrefour, Ikea, Sodexo, sushi restaurant chains itsu and Moshi Moshi. All recognize that driving the bluefin to extinction helps no one.

Groups around the world are refusing to give up, despite the monumental tasks before them.

Even scientists, many of whom have preferred the lab to the front lines, are speaking out. From Cornell University this morning came fighting words from scientists headed to the Cancun conference next week.

“We can not afford another (climate action) failure. The scientific evidence clearly indicates that climate change is a reality we have to deal with ­– now,” says Johannes Lehmann, associate professor of crop and soil science.

Sean Sweeney, director of the Global Labor Institute at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, also took a swipe at the lack of global climate progress.

“The Obama administration has openly expressed doubts that the U.N. can produce an agreement next year in Johannesburg – but this says more about the U.S. failure to make a national emissions reductions commitment than it does about the U.N. process. The U.S. could have made the difference in Copenhagen, and it can do again in Cancun and South Africa. But it needs to come clean about the problems in passing a bill in Congress and the interests that stand in the way of U.S. climate policy.”

That statement might seem tame compared to the invective coming from many loudmouths who are less informed about climate issues. But I’m grateful  any time those who are educated on the topic speak out.

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