Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Witness to Albuquerque About Climate Change

It was almost like having a big party on Saturday morning. There were about 400 of our friends the Albuquerque Climate Pilgrimage:Connecting the Dots, and some were not necessarily people I knew--just kindred spirits.

As we crossed the street, we got a few thumbs up and approving honks(I think they were approving)  from motorists passing by. One woman standing at the entrance to one of the public garages took time to read as many signs as she could.

And then it struck me that it's going to take more than just the 400 who started on the corner of Copper and Sixth St. to address the problems caused by climate change.  We need to get all of society behind this effort. We al --I mean not just you and I personally, but all of society--need to drive less (and I took the bus to the pilgrimage this morning), and put pressure on our government  to cut our carbon footprint.

Solidarity with Big March in New York City
Sister Joan Brown of  the New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and several local partners deserve kudos for organizing a meaningful witness to our community. Our pilgrimage in Albuquerque was our way of joining the huge People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21. 

"We Walk in solidarity with brothers and sisters around the planet and those joining in the People's Climate March in New York City tomorrow.  We walk to make our voices heard to our leaders and those gathered for the UN Climate Conference in NYC September 23.  The People's Climate March in NYC is billed as the largest climate march in history representing great diversity...Today we are connecting the dots as well as others you may not connect to climate change such as food security, immigration and refugees, national and international security, jobs, water, energy and faith."  -Program for Albuquerque Climate Pilgrimage: Connecting the Dots

Thinking About Eliza
Several individuals and groups prepared brief presentations  at six stops along the route. I was part of a group of four people who were asked to make a presentation at the fifth stop in front of the Federal Building. Kathy Freeze, Parish and Community Outreach Liaison at Catholic Charities, set the tone by talking about the impact of climate change on refugees. New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps and the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice also made presentations at this stop.

I was asked to make a brief two-minute presentation about the impact of climate change on a single person affected by hunger and poverty. I chose a picture and a message from World Vision. The caption of the photo to the left reads, "When children like Eliza don’t get enough food to eat, it affects their growth and development in many ways."

Eliza (Photo: World Vision)
And I read this brief message:  Climate change is affecting people’s ability to feed themselves. And when that happens, it is children who suffer the most. Because they are still growing, children are at greatest risk of injury, disability and death caused by the impacts of climate change. They are less equipped physically, mentally and emotionally to cope with life-threatening conditions. The greatest killers of children – malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease and malaria – will get worse because of climate change. Children living in developing countries face the greatest risks of all, not because climate change effects will be any worse there than in other countries, but because poverty limits their ability to respond.  Read full piece from World Vision.

Climate Change and Hunger
There is  ample evidence by now that the warming of the planet has created havoc for agriculture, not only through severe and devastating droughts, but also through untimely floods.

"The way forward is fairly clear, but the magnitude of this challenge is far greater than any other issue on the horizon.," the Bread for the World Institute said in a series of reports on climate change and hunger.. At this point, the scientific evidence on climate change is unequivocal. If we don’t take strong action, the consequences could be catastrophic for everyone."

Kathy Chavez, New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps
Two of our partners in the fight against global hunger have also put together impressive reports on the impact of climate change on food insecurity.

Oxfam America's section on Climate Change tells us that those who are less responsible for climate change are suffering the most from its effects. "The carbon footprint of the world’s one billion poorest people represents just 3 percent of the global total. Yet as climate change advances, poor communities are hardest hit. Not only do we have a responsibility to avoid doing harm to others, we must help them adapt,"

And our friends at CARE have created a series of reports on hunger, poverty and climate change in its Climate Change Information Centre. The briefing paper "Adaptation, Gender and Women's Empowerment," provides some interesting information. "Vulnerability to climate change is determined, in large part, by people's adaptive capacity. A particular climate hazard, such as a drought, does not affect all people within a community – or even the same household – equally because some have greater capacity than others to manage the crisis. This working brief looks at why gender is central to CARE's understanding of and response to the impacts of climate change."

Terese Bridges chats with Jennifer Edwards
Bread members on the March
While I don't know the names and faces of all the Bread for the World folks in New Mexico, I recognized a handful of members of our organization at the pilgrimage: Terese Bridges, Sara Keeney, Rev. Stephen Miller, and Pat Sheely. They were not necessarily here as Bread members but as individuals concerned about the environment. Pat Sheely traveled from Gallup to take part in the rally, and  Rev.  Miller was the song leader for the theme song of the march: We need to wake up, We need to wise up, We need to open our eyes, And do it now now, We need to build a better future, And we need to start right now...

Carla Shibuya and Annette O'Connor
Does It Matter? 
The pilgrimage organizers answer the question in the affirmative. Yes.What happens depends on what actions you take, how you convey your concerns and invite family, work colleagues, faith leaders, community and political leaders to act. We offer suggestions for action as we walk along.Thank you for saying Yes to Life, to the Future and to the Children.

Here are More Photos of the Pilgrimage


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