With Pope Francis at the Helm, World's Mayors Pledge to Fight Climate Change
At the Vatican on Tuesday, mayors from around the globe pledged to fight climate change and help the world's poor deal with the effects of a warming planet, an oath that came during a two-day conference with Pope Francis—himself a dedicated climate activist.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) July 22, 2015
About 60 mayors pledged, one by one, to reduce their cities' emissions and urge global leaders to pass a "bold climate agreement" at the upcoming United Nations talks in Paris that "confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endangers their lives."
The event, which also focused on combating modern-day slavery, was organized shortly after the publication of Pope Francis's unprecedented environmental encyclical. It marked the first time that the Vatican had invited local leaders to meet with the Pope, an effort that sought to fuel local grassroots movements calling for an aggressive fight against climate change to emerge at the Paris talks in December.
Among the cities represented at the meeting were New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Vancouver, Madrid, Rome, and Stockholm. California Governor Jerry Brown was also in attendance.
"We can’t say that the person is here and the care for the environment is there," Pope Francis said on Tuesday as he took the stage to address the mayors. "This is what I was trying to express in the encyclical Laudato Si'. We can’t separate man from all else. There is a mutual impact."
"It's not a green encyclical; it's a social encyclical," he continued.
His call was heralded by those in attendance. "There is a vivid recognition that mayors are key players in changing how policies that have before now been spoken about across nations are actually applied on the streets of the cities," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told Catholic News Service. "Mayors are actually responsible for getting things done."
And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a speech at the conference, stating, "It's increasingly clear that we local leaders of the world have many tools and that we must use them boldly even as our national governments hesitate."
Mayor Yelgi Verley Knight of Siquirres, Costa Rica, told CNS that she is disappointed to see so few women on the Vatican's list of speakers, especially because women are the first victims of human trafficking and the poverty caused by climate change.
"We as women mayors have to speak for those who have no voice. Slavery isn't something of yesterday. I am of African descent; my ancestors came to the Caribbean as slaves, a situation that was driven by the economic system, which is the same thing that is happening today."
Tony Chammany, mayor of Kochi, a city on India’s western coast, tied these ideas together with examples from his country. Rising seas are “going to pose a big threat to the very survival” of Kochi, he said. Meanwhile, as India experiences increasingly severe weather, many of the country’s poor farmers will leave their land. Some of their families will be “pushed into the dark dungeons of slavery,” Chammany said. India’s poor, he emphasized, will be hit particularly hard by a problem they did little to create.
And the New York Times reports:
Pope Francis told the audience he was worried about the uncontrolled growth of poverty belts around expanding cities with no care for the environment and the ensuing suffering for those who inhabit the areas.
He also expressed his concern about the “rebound effect” for human beings of the deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil and for how the trafficking of people, forced labor and prostitution thrive in poor areas. And he urged the mayors sitting in front of him to pay increasing attention to the problem of environmental destruction.
The mayors had, in fact, taken their task very seriously.
“His Holiness did not convene us here to ratify the status quo, but in fact to upend it,” Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, said in his 10-minute speech.
Pope Francis has previously slammed "unbridled capitalism" as a destructive force and explicitly connected climate change to global poverty and inequality, saying that addressing global warming is "an ethical and moral imperative."
On Tuesday, he had an optimistic outlook on the COP21 conference.
"I have a great hopes in the Paris summit," he said. "I have great hopes that a fundamental agreement is reached. The United Nations needs to take a very strong stand on this."
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By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Tropical Storm Josephine Also No Threat to Land<p>Meanwhile, the season's record-earliest tenth named storm, Tropical Storm Josephine, was also struggling with high wind shear as it traced out a path over the open ocean.</p><p>At 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Josephine was located about 310 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest at 15 mph with top sustained winds at 45 mph. Josephine is expected to bring one to three inches of rain over portions of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend. Josephine will encounter steadily rising wind shear through Monday, peaking at a very high 30 – 35 knots. This high shear is likely to destroy Josephine's circulation by Monday, before the storm can affect any other land areas.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/tropical-storm-kyle-forms-unlikely-to-affect-land/" target="_blank">Yale Climate Connections</a>. </em><em></em></p>
By Ute Eberle
In May 2017, shells started washing up along the Ligurian coast in Italy. They were small and purple and belonged to a snail called Janthina pallida that is rarely seen on land. But the snails kept coming — so many that entire stretches of the beach turned pastel.
The Ligurian coast has been swept by snails turning its color pastel.
A World Between Worlds<p>The neuston comprises a multitude of weird and wonderful creatures. </p><p>Many, like the Portuguese man-of-war, which paralyzes its prey with venomous tentacles up to 30 meters long, are colored an electric shade of blue, possibly to protect themselves against the sun's UV rays, or as camouflages against predators.</p><p>There are also by-the-wind sailors, flattish creatures that raise chitin shields from the water like sails; slugs known as sea dragons that cling to the water's surface from below with webbed appendages; barnacles that build bubble rafts as big as dinner plates; and the world's only marine insects, a relation of the pond skater.</p><p>They live "between the worlds" of the sea and sky, as Federico Betti, a marine biologist at the University of Genoa, puts it. From below, predators lurk. From above, the sun burns. Winds and waves toss them about. Depending on the weather, their environment may be warm or cool, salty or less so.</p>
Sea snails can make up the neuston.
Velella velella jellyfish living on the surface of the ocean.<p>But now, they face another — manmade — threat from nets designed to catch trash. A project called <a href="https://theoceancleanup.com/" target="_blank">The Ocean Cleanup</a>, run by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, has raised millions of dollars in donations and sponsorship to deploy long barriers with nets that will drift across the ocean in open loops to sweep up floating garbage. </p>
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Waste collection in the Pacific Ocean heralded by The Ocean Cleanup.<p>The Ocean Cleanup says Helm's concerns are based on "misguided assumptions."</p><p>"It's true that neustonic organisms will be trapped in the barriers," says Gerhard Herndl, professor of Aquatic Biology at the University of Vienna and one of project's scientific advisors. "But these organisms have dangerous lives. They're adapted to high losses because they get washed ashore in storms and they have high reproductive rates. If they didn't, they'd already be extinct."</p><p>Helm says they just don't know how quickly these creatures reproduce, and in any case recovering from passing storm is very different from surviving The Ocean Clean Up's systems which could be in place for years.</p>
Communication Breakdown<p>The Ocean Cleanup invited Helm to a symposium on the topic in December, where both sides presented their points of views and didn't seem to find much common ground. Since then, direct communication between them has stopped, says Helm. "They're not interested in talking to me anymore."</p><p>Both sides agree that much is still unknown about the neuston. But one thing that has been established is that most of the oceans' fish spend part of their lifecycle in the neuston. "More than 90% of marine fish species produce floating eggs that persist on the surface until hatching," Betti says.</p><p>The Ocean Cleanup has undertaken one of the few studies into this ecosystem, collecting data on the neuston on the relative abundance of neuston and floating plastic debris in the eastern North Pacific Ocean during a 2019 expedition to the Pacific Garbage Patch, an area where plastic pollution has accumulated on a vast scale. But it is not yet sharing what it has found. The information was being prepared for publication in an as of yet unspecified journal, probably some time next year, an Ocean Cleanup spokesperson said. </p>
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