10 vital terms to know about climate change
Climate change lingo can be confusing. From climate refugees to grasstops organizing, here are 10 of the most important terms.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 14:09
1) Climate justice. Historically, rich nations have been responsible for causing the problem of climate change. By burning coal and other fossil fuels, industrialized nations are the leading contributors in greenhouse gas emissions. In order to solve the problem of climate change, every country must take responsibility. But not every country has the same resources or can provide the same solutions.
2) Climate debt. Developed nations must repay their debts for the climate change problem though their own actions of mitigation, and through adaptation financing to developing nations. (Check out this video on climate debt by Naomi Klein on Democracy Now.)
3) Mitigation. This describes the lessening or slowing of catastrophic climate change. We can lessen our own personal carbon footprint in a number of ways, but to really mitigate climate change we will need structural change. We will need to transition to a clean energy economy, become smarter in the way we use transportation, and even change the way we get the food we eat.
4) Adaptation. Poor countries are the first to feel the effects of climate change. Low-lying island states are especially vulnerable to sea level rise and other problems of climate change.
5) The Republic of the Maldives. A low-lying island country in the Indian Ocean. Most of the country is only one meter above sea level. Scientists have said that the country will need to evacuate in the next 20 years due to sea level rise. President Nasheed is already looking for land to move the climate refugees of his country.
6) Climate refugee. A person who is displaced and must move from their home country due to climate change. Some suggest there could be as many as 200 million climate change refugees worldwide by 2050.
7) Bali Action Plan. Created in 2007 at the UNFCCC in Bali, Indonesia. A two-year plan in preparation to develop a treaty in Copenhagen. Inability to follow through with the Bali Action Plan is one reason we speak of the Copenhagen Climate Talks having "failed."
8) Grassroots vs. Grasstops organizing. Community organizing is the action of mobilizing people to act on an issue. Grassroots organizing deals with moving people to action. Grasstops deals with moving power holders to action. An example of grassroots is gathering people for a rally. Grasstops is organizing community leaders, local politicians and organizations to influence lawmakers.
9) Mountaintop removal (MTR). Just under half of all electricity in the United Stated is generated from coal-fired power plants. Coal comes from mountains. In the 1960s, coal companies found an easier way to get to the coal inside the mountain. Instead of digging, they decided to just blast the mountaintop off. All the dirt, toxic minerals and everything from the top of the mountain is pushed into the surrounding valleys and streams. MTR accounts for seven percent of the United States' coal production.
10) Humor. Why is humor important? Laughter, joy and optimism must be part of the climate movement. We are not just tackling the biggest problem to face our planet, ever — we are understanding ourselves as an integral part of the environment. We're challenging oppressive power structures and changing the way we live. As the Editor of Yes! Magazine stated recently, unless your idea of a happy life includes a mandatory Hummer, you're likely to be happier. It's important to keep what we do in perspective. Yes, we're changing the world, but we're also living in the world. Enjoy yourself and find humor in the existential property of the current moment.
RMT organising unit/Flickr