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When it happens at home

by Sara Löwgren
This is a personal story. It is different from our regular blog posts and may present a different perspective.

I have written about the impacts of climate change for years. Seeking to inform, animate, and provoke action, I put words to emotions I did not yet know. I am extremely privileged: I still do not know what it feels like when a drought threatens your family’s daily meal, when your house is washed away in a flood, or when you know that within 50 years, your home nation will be entirely submerged by the ocean. But after a life of feeling safe and protected, climate change is finally knocking on my own, Swedish door. It is not a matter of life and death, but it is happening at home and I am scared.

The other day, my grandfather posted a picture of a patch of sandy, dry soil, remarking that this used to be their lawn. I know that lawn way too well, know that it is green and lush and that you must watch out for chicken poop before you lay down to enjoy it. That’s how it used to be, last year and the all years I can remember before that. Across my green home country, lawns and field are turning brown. Urgent lack of feed is pushing farmers to give their cattle away, or slaughter half their herds prematurely. No machinery is allowed that could heat or drop sparks on the ground; there are already more than 60 wildfires raging across the country, engulfing unprepared properties and fuel-loaded forests as they go.

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“We used to call this a lawn.” My grandpa recently posted this picture on Facebook.

Compared to other countries’, Sweden’s recent experience with climate change is harmless. In a way, drought is Sweden even seems fair. When thinking about climate justice, I often wish that polluters would bear the whole burden of their emissions. Easy to say, but how true do I stay to my principles, when it is about my own country? Per capita, Sweden pollutes a lot. But my granpa’s lawn? Rationality and perspective feel far away. I keep wishing for someone else to act; I blame larger countries and capitalism.

As an individual, I sometimes feel overwhelming powerlessness. I study climate change, climate policy, and climate justice, but when climate change is disrupting life at home, I stand helpless. I cannot create rain and stop a drought.

Powerlessness is paralyzing, but we must keep moving. Sweden is taking some steps towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions, steps which clearly must become more ambitious. I believe that as a political and economic unit as well as 10 million individuals, Sweden must internalize the externalities of our import-based economy, put pressure on ourselves and other countries, and cut all unnecessary consumption. The drought is scary, but we can unite over our emotions from the summer of 2018 and let them fuel our necessary revolution of climate change mitigation. Superseding fear and frustration, I feel motivation and hope.

 

featured image by Christine Ohlsson/TT.

The Big Fights at COP23

Written by Thule van den Dam, Aura Silva Martinez, and Rachael Goldberg

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COP23 (Fiji) in Bonn officially started today and we are caught between a rock and a hard place. The Paris Agreement is a watery, empty promise, and a Polish presidency for COP24 is promising to be as dark as the ‘Coal Summit’ that will be hosted at the same time. To hold developed countries accountable to anything, however, this watery, empty promise needs implementation and clarity, never straying from the principles of the convention — common but differentiated responsibility. We need these footholds established this year: we ran out of time long ago.

So, what are the struggles up ahead in the next two weeks and beyond?!

Read more…

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A Week with Cocoa Farmers in Ghana’s Eastern Region

By Jenna Farineau

It’s unusually hot for this time of year. It reaches almost 40 degrees Celsius every day and the rains are few. Now, it’s not unusual for Ghana to have such intense heat or lack of constant rains, but this is something concerning. The end of February/beginning of March generally marks the start of the rainy season here, and it is welcomed with deep appreciation from farmers. Because there isn’t proper infrastructure to transport water to farms in most of the rural areas, these farmers depend on the rains that come every year – their cocoa trees especially. The Eastern, Western, and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana are top producers of cocoa and depend the most on this rainy season as cocoa trees need a lot of water to produce decent yields. Read more…

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Diversification for Sustainability – Lobster fishing and Aquaculture in Maine

By Zebadiah Campbell

 

My name is Zebadiah Campbell. I am an eighth generation lobster fisherman and a second generation oyster farmer from North Haven, Maine. North Haven is an island 12 miles out to sea in Penobscot Bay. The island is home to a year round population of 350 people and 45 of these islanders are licensed commercial fisherman. This small number of fishermen make for a close knit, and sometimes high tension relationship between the fishermen themselves. We all work very closely with one another which can be a blessing and curse. There are times when conflicts happen, however the intimate nature of the small fishing community typically breeds wishes for fair winds and following seas to one another.

Read more…

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Land Use at COP22: What Happened and What’s Next?

By Sara Velander, Jenna Farineau, and Elaina Burress. 

After the final text of the Paris Agreement was adopted mid-December 2015, several land-focused organizations analyzed the different ways land use and agriculture are positioned in the agreement, in order to identify the future trajectory of land use in international climate policy. According to Climate Focus, the Agreement made specific references to land use in various articles including Article 5 on forests, and a reference to food production in Article 2. However, these are merely recognizing land use in the agreement and have no binding provisions as of yet. Where land use is likely to have the biggest role is in the accounting of emissions and removals in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), one of the few binding obligations of the Paris Agreement. Read more…