Climate Change and the Right to Social Order

Today our campers considered a big idea: that we all have the right to a social and international order that makes all other human rights possible (Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Although it’s clear that individuals have important roles to play in social change, campers were quick to identify social issues that require systemic action, beyond individual efforts. Racial inequality, world hunger, and border violence were all mentioned. Clearly, another issue that requires worldwide coordination and response is climate change.

Thanks to camper Roan for the poster for today!

Borrowing an excellent video from the Alliance for Climate Education, we reviewed the science behind climate change and the steps the world needs to take to reverse its effects. Taking on the roles of world leaders, like those who drafted the Paris Climate Agreement, campers came up with goals that they would like to see the nations of the world work toward achieving. Among these goals are:

  • An increase in public transportation in major cities
  • An increase in local sources of food and a decrease in imports
  • More efficient measures to deal with garbage and animal waste
  • More public gardens
  • A focus on renewable energy sources
  • Fewer factory-made products
  • Decreased meat production and consumption
  • A commitment to reconvene regularly to show proof of progress

We also heard from teen activist Greta Thunberg who in her TED Talk challenges individuals and governments to act on the seriousness of the climate crisis. Refusing to put a positive spin on the looming devastation of global warming, she refrains from focusing on hope. Greta says, “The one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.” As a further challenge, she tells us, “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.”

As we explore different human rights each day of camp, we’ll be looking at how each one is or will be impacted by climate change. We’ll keep in mind that we have a fundamental right to live in a society that is structured in such a way to make all those other rights possible. And we’ll remember that changing the rules by which societies function is action that can bring hope.

One more resource we’d like to point you to is an online footprint calculator that helps you see the impact of your lifestyle on the planet. If everyone in the world lived as you do, how many Earths would it take to support those lives? On what date each year have you used up your year’s allotment of resources? Take the quiz and find out!

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