By Jake Johnson
Just days before world leaders are set to gather in Bonn, Germany for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), tens of thousands of activists from across the globe kicked off a series of planned actions on Saturday by taking to the streets to demand an end to coal, denounce U.S. President Donald Trump's climate denial, and highlight the necessity of moving toward 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as possible.
"This is a pivotal moment for global efforts to combat climate change," 350.org, which helped organize the events set to take place through next week, noted in a statement. "Countries will either succumb to the forces of denial, like the Trump administration, or move ahead to a clean energy future that works for all."
The stated aim of the COP23 talks—this year presided over by Fiji—is to "advance the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement and achieve progress on its implementation guidelines."
25.000 people fighting for climate justice! 💚 Biggest climate change demonstration in Germany ever! RT to celebrate… https://t.co/GMVcGnr87N— campact (@campact)1509802729.0
But Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement casts a "dark shadow" over the negotiations. As the New York Times reported Thursday, the Trump administration will attempt to use COP23 as a platform to "promote coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy" and argue that fossil fuels should "continue to play a central role in the energy mix"—despite the fact that the U.S. government's own climate assessment, unveiled Friday, links fossil fuels to the warming of the climate.
So while Trump and his allies are "twisting themselves into pretzels to justify blocking national and international climate action," environmentalists are working to place pressure on world leaders to forge ahead with ambitious goals that place people and the planet over the interests of oil giants.
"The wildfires, hurricanes and floods of these last few months show us that we don't have time to play games of climate denial or greenwashing of dirty energy," Cindy Wiesner, executive director of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, said in a statement. "COP23 is an opportunity for world leaders to catch up to the solutions already coming from communities on the ground."
With the small island nation Fiji presiding over the talks, particular attention is being drawn to the Pacific Island nations that are severely threatened by the extreme weather that results from climate change. Throughout COP23, Pacific Climate Warriors will demand that world leaders "kick the big polluters out of the climate talks," "end the era of fossil fuels," and "move to 100% renewable energy."
"Putting a stop to coal and other forms of dirty energy is crucial in addressing the global climate emergency," concluded Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International. "We urge developed country governments to stop exploiting dirty energy now and to stop financing dirty energy projects at home and in developing countries."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.