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Aylan, the toddler who drowned yesterday fleeing Syria, was just three years old. His town was under attack by Isis. His five year old brother and his mum also died trying to reach safety. 
Yet our Prime Minister has just said ‘we won’t take any more refugees’.  He thinks that most of us don’t care.
But 38 Degrees members do care. We don’t want Britain to be the kind of country that turns its back as people drown in their desperation to flee places like Syria.
So let’s stand up for Britain’s long tradition of helping refugees fleeing war. If tens of thousands of us write to our MPs, demanding no more drownings, we can force the government into action.
Please can you email your MP now? It’ll just take a minute but it could be our best chance to force the government to help people fleeing from war and violence. There’s some suggested text to help you write your email if you’re not sure what to say:
If MPs hear from lots of their constituents today, they’ll realise that lots of us don’t agree with David Cameron: we want the UK to do its bit to help refugees fleeing war. And if enough MPs start speaking out, Cameron will feel isolated and start to change his tune. Pressure on MPs today could help stop more children drowning as they try to get to safety.
The tide is starting to turn against the government. Some MPs are already starting to call on them to give immediate sanctuary to refugees.  Every message we send to an MP today helps pile the pressure on Cameron.
Britain has a long tradition of helping people fleeing war. It’s part of being a civilised country. And 38 Degrees members have a strong record of standing up for a Britain we can all be proud to live in – whether that’s through defending the NHS or our countryside, or by making sure we do our bit to help refugees.
So let’s speak up today and tell David Cameron that we won’t stand by while he lets children drown.
Nat, Laura, David, Amy, Megan and the whole 38 Degrees team
PS. Tonight, 38 Degrees members across the country will be lighting a candle in their window as a sign of remembrance for those who have drowned trying to reach safety. Please join in if you feel moved to.
Many of us are also putting signs that say ‘refugees welcome’ in our windows to show the kind of place we want Britain to be. You can find a ‘refugees welcome’ poster to print and put in your front window here:
Or, if you want to donate money, the British Red Cross is running an emergency fundraising appeal to help victims of the Syrian crisis:
But first of all, please contact your MP and help build pressure on our government to do the right thing:
 The Independent: Refugee Crisis Aylan’s life was full of fear – in death he is part of humanity washed ashore:
 BBC News: David Cameron: Taking more and more refugees not answer:
 The Guardian: Migration Crisis: Pressure mounts on David Cameron to relent on taking more refugees:
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
March 12, 2015
Secretary of State John Kerry
March 12, 2015
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, everybody. Fred, thank you very, very much for a very generous introduction. I’m delighted to be here with everybody. Distinguished ambassadors who are here this morning, thank you for taking time to represent your countries and come here and share your concern about this critical issue.
And I’m delighted to be accompanied by our envoy on climate, who’s been toiling away in the fields for a long time now in helping to shape President Obama’s and the State Department’s policy on this, Todd Stern. Todd, thanks for your many efforts on it.
Fred, thank you for leadership here at the Atlantic Council. I think Fred has demonstrated that he seems to always have the ability to have his finger on the most critical issues of the day, not just today actually, but of tomorrow. And as a result, we can always count on the Atlantic Council to be ahead of the curve and to be challenging all of us to think. So we appreciate very much what you do. And thank you, all of you, who are on the board and/or a part of and committed to the efforts of the council.
I have to add you also have an impeccable eye for talent. I was not surprised to hear that you had the good sense to hire Ambassador Richard Morningstar. He’s one of the most experienced global energy experts and a good friend of mine and Massachusetts – a son of Massachusetts. And now that he’s the director of the new Global Energy Center, you couldn’t be in better hands. And secondly, my former legislative assistant on energy and climate and then went to the White House, Heather Zichal, is part of this great family of effort on climate. So I think we’re kind of a family here this morning, in fact.
It’s clear that from Venezuela to Iraq to Ukraine, there is no shortage of energy challenges in the world today. And we’ve had many conversations recently. I was in Brussels. We had an US-EU energy summit, where we laid out an agenda for how we can liberate some of these countries from their one-country dependency in the case of Russia and others. It has huge strategic importance. But I have to tell you, at the top of the list of energy challenges is climate change. And that is why the Road to Paris series, the very first hosted by the center, is so very important, and I am really delighted to be here and be a part of it.
As Fred mentioned, climate change is an issue that is personal to me, and it has been since the 1980s, when we were organizing the very first climate hearings in the Senate. In fact, it really predates that, going back to Earth Day when I’d come back from Vietnam. It was the first political thing I began to organize in Massachusetts, when citizens started to make a solid statement in this country. And I might add that’s before we even had an Environmental Protection Agency or a Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act or a Marine Mammal Protection Act or a Coastal Zone Management Act. It all came out of that kind of citizen movement. And that’s what we have to be involved in now. And the reason for that is simple: For decades now, the science has been screaming at us, warning us, trying to compel us to act.
And I just want to underscore that for a moment. It may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t to some. Science is and has long been crystal clear when it comes to climate change. Al Gore, Tim Worth, and a group of us organized the first hearings in the Senate on this, 1988. We heard Jim Hansen stand in – sit in front of us and tell us it’s happening now, 1988. So we’re not talking about news reports or blog posts or even speeches that some cabinet secretary might give at a think tank. We’re talking about a fact-based, evidence-supported, peer-reviewed science. And yet, if you listen to some people in Washington or elsewhere, you’d think there’s a question about whether climate change really is a problem or whether we really need to respond to it.
So stop for a minute and just think about the basics. When an apple falls from a tree, it will drop toward the ground. We know that because of the basic laws of physics. Science tells us that gravity exists, and no one disputes that. Science also tells us that when the water temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it turns to ice. No one disputes that.
So when science tells us that our climate is changing and humans beings are largely causing that change, by what right do people stand up and just say, “Well, I dispute that” or “I deny that elementary truth”? And yet, there are those who do so. Literally a couple of days ago, I read about some state officials who are actually trying to ban the use of the term “climate change” in public documents because they’re not willing to face the facts.
Now folks, we literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say “climate change.” We have to talk about how we solve climate change. Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible. I have been involved in public policy debates now for 40-plus years, whatever, since the 1960s. It is rare, rare, rare – I can tell you after 28 years-plus in the Senate – to get a super majority of studies to agree on anything. But 97 percent, over 20-plus years – that’s a dramatic statement of fact that no one of good conscience has a right to ignore.
But what’s really troubling is that those same scientists are telling us what’s going to happen, not just the fact of it being there, but they’re telling us what’s coming at us. These scientists also agree that if we continue to march like robots down the path that we’re on, the world as we know it will be transformed dramatically for the worse. And we can expect that sea levels will continue rising to dangerous levels. We will see nations moved as a consequence in the Pacific and elsewhere – Bangladesh, countries that are low.
We will see large swaths of cities and even some countries under water. We can expect more intense and frequent extreme weather events like hurricanes and typhoons. We can expect disruptions to the global agricultural sector that will threaten job security for millions of farmers and undermine food security for millions of families. We can expect prolonged droughts and resource shortages, which have the potential to fan the flames of conflict in areas that are already troubled by longstanding political, economic, religious, ideological, sectarian disputes. Imagine when they’re complicated by the absence of water and food.
These are the consequences of climate change, and this is the magnitude of what we are up against. And measured against the array of global threats we face today – and there are many. Terrorism, extremism, epidemics, poverty, nuclear proliferation, all challenges that respect no borders – climate change belongs on that very same list. It is, indeed, one of the biggest threats facing our planet today. And even top military personnel have designated it as a security threat to not just the United States but the world. And no one who has truly considered the science, no one who has truly listened objectively to our national security experts, could reach a different conclusion.
So yes, this is personal to me. But you know what? The bottom line is it ought to be personal to everybody, every man, woman, child, businessperson, student, grandparent, wherever we live, whatever our calling, whatever our personal background might be. This issue affects everyone on the planet. And if any challenge requires global cooperation and urgent action, this is it.
Make no mistake, this is a critical year. And that is why this Road to Paris series is so important. The science tells us we still have a window of time to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, but that window is closing quickly. We’re already in a mode where we’re looking at mitigation, not just prevention. In December, the world will come together at the UN Climate Conference in Paris, and we will see whether or not we can muster the collective political will to reach an ambitious, comprehensive agreement.
Now even those of us who are most involved in the negotiations – and Todd and I have talked to this, and talked about it with the President – we all understand. We know that even the agreement we’re trying to reach in Paris will not completely and totally be able to eliminate the threat. It’s not going to. But it is an absolutely vital first step, and it would be a breakthrough demonstration that countries across the globe now recognize the problem and the need for each and every one of us to contribute to a solution. And it will set the market moving; it will change attitudes; it will change governments. And then progressively, no one can quite measure what the exponential productivity of all of that effort will produce. So we have nine short months to come together around the kind of agreement that will put us on the right path.
Now rest assured – not a threat, but a statement of fact – if we fail, future generations will not and should not forgive those who ignore this moment, no matter their reasoning. Future generations will judge our effort not just as a policy failure but as a collective moral failure of historic consequence. And they will want to know how world leaders could possibly have been so blind or so ignorant or so ideological or so dysfunctional and, frankly, so stubborn that we failed to act on knowledge that was confirmed by so many scientists, in so many studies, over such a long period of time, and documented by so much evidence.
The truth is we will have no excuse. You don’t need to be a scientist to see that the world is already changing and feeling the impacts of global climate change and significantly. Many of the things I mentioned a moment ago are already beginning to unfold before our eyes. Just look around you. Fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record in all of history have occurred since 2000, in all of recorded history. Last year was the warmest of all. And I think if you stop and think about it, it seems that almost every next year becomes one of the hottest on record.
And with added heat comes an altered environment. It’s not particularly complicated. I don’t mean to sound haughty, but think about it for a minute. Life on Earth would not exist without a greenhouse effect. That is what has kept the average temperature up, until recently, at 57 degrees Fahrenheit, because there is this greenhouse effect. And it was called the greenhouse effect because it does exactly what a greenhouse does. When the sun pours in and bounces off at a different angle, it goes back up at a different angle. That can’t escape, and that warms things – a very simple proposition.
Now it’s difficult to tell whether one specific storm or one specific drought is solely caused by climate change, or a specific moment, but the growing number of extreme events scientists tell us is a clear signal to all of us. Recently Southeastern Brazil has been experiencing a crippling drought, the worst the region has seen in 80 years. The situation is so dire that families in Sao Paulo have been drilling through their basement floors in search of groundwater.
And the historic droughts in some parts of the world are matched only by historic floods in others. Malawi is currently in the midst of a disaster in which more than 150 people have died. Tens of thousands of people have been stranded by the rushing waters, cut off from food, clean water, healthcare, and thousands more have been forced from their homes.
This is happening now. It’s not a future event. And you can find countries, places – in fact, California, where they’ve had 100-year, 500-year droughts and massive fires and so forth as a consequence of the changes. Ask any scientist who studies the movement of species, and they’ll tell you how species are moving steadily north, fish moving. Everything is changing. It’s happening before our eyes, and that’s the first reason there is no excuse for ignoring this problem.
The second reason is that, unlike some of challenges that we face – I can readily attest to this – this one has a ready-made solution. The solution is not a mystery. It’s staring us in the face. It’s called energy policy. Energy policy. That’s the solution to climate change. And with the right choices, at the right speed, you can actually prevent the worst effects of climate change from crippling us forever. If we make the switch to a global, clean-energy economy a priority, if we think more creatively about how we power our cars, heat our homes, operate our businesses, then we still have time to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. It really is as simple as that. But getting there is proving not to be as simple.
So what, more specifically, do we need to do? I’m not going to come here and just describe the problem. What do we need to do?
To begin with, we need leaders with the political courage to make the tough, but necessary, policy choices that will help us all find the right path. And I am pleased to say and proud to serve with a President who has accepted that challenge, who has taken this head on. Today, thanks to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the United States is well on its way to meeting our international commitments to seriously cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. And that’s because we’re going straight to the largest sources of pollution. We’re targeting emissions from transportation and power sources, which account for about 60 percent of the dangerous greenhouse gases that we release. And we’re also tackling smaller opportunities in every sector of the economy in order to be able to address every greenhouse gas.
The President has put in place standards to double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks on American roads. We’ve also proposed regulations that will curb carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.
But it’s not enough just to address the pollution generated by dirty sources of energy; we also have to invest in cleaner alternatives. Since President Obama took office, the United States has upped its wind energy production more than threefold and increased our solar energy generation more than tenfold. We’ve also become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and businesses.
And this is by far the most ambitious set of climate actions that the United States of America has ever undertaken. And it’s a large part of why today we’re emitting less than we have in two decades. It’s also the reason that we were able to recently announce the goal of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent, from 2005 levels, and accomplish that by year 2025. And that will put us squarely on the road to a more sustainable and prosperous economy. Now, this upper end target would also enable us to be able to cut our emissions by 83 percent by mid-century, which is what scientists say we need to do in order to prevent warming from exceeding the threshold level of 2 degrees centigrade, Celsius.
But I can’t emphasize this enough, no single country, not even the United States, can solve this problem or foot this bill alone. And that isn’t just rhetoric. It’s physically impossible. Think of it this way: Even if every single American bikes to work or carpooled to school, or used only solar panels to power their homes; if we each planted a dozen trees, every American; if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions – guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world. The same would be true if China went to zero emissions but others continued with business as usual. It’s not enough for one country or even a few countries to reduce emissions if their neighbors are unwilling to do their share. So when I say we need a global solution, I mean it. Anything less won’t work.
Now of course, industrialized countries, obviously, play a major role in bringing about a clean-energy future. And the days of the Industrial Revolution all the way through the last century – obviously the industrial countries benefitted by developing and growing, but they also created the basic template for this problem. But even if all the industrial countries stopped today, it doesn’t solve the problem. And it certainly is a signal that other countries shouldn’t go off and repeat the mistakes of the past. We have to remember that, today, almost two-thirds of global emissions come from developing nations. So it is imperative that developing nations be part of the solution also.
Now I want to make this very, very clear. In economic terms, this is not a choice between bad and worse. Some people like to demagogue this issue. They want to tell you, “Oh, we can’t afford to do this.” Nothing could be further from the truth. We can’t afford not to do it. And in fact, the economics will show you that it is better in the long run to do it and cheaper in the long run. So this is not a choice between bad and worse, not at all. Ultimately, this is a choice between growing or shrinking an economy. Pursuing cleaner, more efficient energy is actually the only way that nations around the world can build the kind of economies that are going to thrive for decades to come.
And here’s why. Coal and oil are only cheap ways to power a nation in the very near term. But if you look a little further down you road, you begin to see an entirely different story. When you think about the real numbers over time, the costs of those outdated energy sources actually pile up very quickly.
Start with the economic impacts related to agriculture and food security and how scientists estimate that the changing climate is going to cause yields of crops like rice and maize and wheat to fall by 2 percent every decade. Consider what that means for millions of farmers around the world and the inflationary impact that will have on food prices. Now factor in how that would also exacerbate global challenges like hunger and malnutrition that we already face. Add to that the other long-term health-related problems caused by dirty air – asthma is an example, which predominantly affects children and already costs Americans an estimated $50 billion annually. The greatest single cause of young American children being hospitalized in the course of a summer in the United States is environmentally-induced asthma, and that costs billions.
The reality is that carbon-based air pollution contributes to the deaths of at least 4.5 million people every year. No part of that is inexpensive. And any nation that argues that it simply can’t afford to invest in the alternative and renewable energy needs to take a second look at what they’re paying for, consider the sizable costs that are associated with rebuilding in the wake of devastating weather events. In 2012 alone, extreme weather cost the United States nearly $120 billion in damages. When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines a little over a year ago, the cost of responding exceeded $10 billion. And that’s just the bill for the storm damage. Think of the added health care costs, the expenses that result from agricultural and environmental degradation. It is time, my friends, for people to do real cost accounting.
The bottom line is that we can’t only factor in the price of immediate energy needs. We have to include the long-term cost of carbon pollution. We have to factor in the cost of survival. And if we do, we will find that pursuing clean energy now is far more affordable than paying for the consequences of climate change later.
But there’s another piece of reality to take into account. And as you can see, these arguments begin to compound and grow, become irrefutable, frankly. Clean energy is not only the solution to climate change – guess what? It’s also one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time. Want to put people to work? This is the way you put people to work. The global energy market of the future is poised to be the largest market the world has ever known. We’re talking about a $6 trillion market today, with four to five billion users today. That will grow to nine billion users over the next few decades. By comparison, the great driver of wealth creation in this country in the 1990s, when super-billionaires and millionaires were created and every income level of America went up, that was a technology market. And it was a $1 trillion market with only a billion users – just to get a sense of the possibilities here.
Between now and 2035, investment in the energy sector is expected to reach nearly $17 trillion. That’s more than the entire GDP of China and you just have to imagine the opportunities for clean energy. Imagine the businesses that could be launched, the jobs that will be created in every corner of the globe. And by the way, the United States of America, in the year 2015, doesn’t even have a national grid. We have a great big gaping hole in the middle of our country. You can’t sell energy from the wind farm in Massachusetts or in Minnesota to another part of the country, because we can’t transmit it. Think of the jobs in creating that grid. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. All you have to do is look at the results that we are already seeing in places like my home state of Massachusetts.
In 2007, we set a couple of goals. We pledged to build 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2020, and more than 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017. It was pretty ambitious. It was unprecedented. But we knew that the potential benefits to the state were enormous.
Fast forward to today, and Massachusetts has increased renewable energy by 400 percent in the last four years alone. We used a bulk purchasing program for residential solar to help keep prices low for residents and businesses across the state. And because of that, today there are residential solar installations in 350 of Massachusetts’s 351 cities and towns. Today, the commonwealth’s clean energy economy is a $10 billion industry that has grown by 10.5 percent over the past year and 47 percent since 2010. It employs nearly 100,000 people at 6,000 firms, and it’s the perfect example of how quickly this transformation could happen and how far its benefits reach.
If we put our minds to it, folks, if we make the right decisions and forge the right partnerships, we can bring these kinds of benefits to communities across the United States and around the globe. To get there, all nations have to be smarter about how we use energy, invest in energy, and encourage businesses to make smart energy choices as well.
Now, we’ll have to invest in new technology, and that will help us bring renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro not only to the communities where those resources are abundant, but to every community in every country on every continent. We’ll have to stop government money from going towards nonrenewable energy sources, like coal and oil. It makes no sense to be subsidizing that. Which is why the United States has been helping to drive efforts in the G-20 and APEC to phase out wasteful fossil fuel subsidies.
And we’ve actually taken steps to prevent now global financial institutions from funding dirty power plants and putting public money into those things that we know are going to go in the wrong direction. We’ll have to strengthen legal and regulatory frameworks in countries overseas to help spur investment in places where it’s insufficient. It’s much easier for businesses to deploy capital when they have confidence in the local legal and regulatory policy. And to attract money, we need to control risk. The more you can minimize the risk, the greater confidence people, investors will have to bring their capital to the table.
We also have to continue to push for the world’s highest standards in the environmental chapters of the trade agreements that we’re pursuing, just like we are doing in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And just like labor standards in other agreements, these environmental agreements have to be really fully enforceable.
Finally, we have to find more ways for the private and the public sector to work together to make the most of the innovative technology that entrepreneurs are developing here in the United States and around the world. And this is the idea that is behind the White House announcement that they made last month, the Clean Energy Investment Initiative. Its starting goal is to attract $2 billion in private sector investment to be put toward clean energy climate change solutions.
Now, the good news is much of the technology that we need is already out there. And it’s becoming faster and faster, easier to access and cheaper to access. A report that the Department of Energy released this morning actually projects that in the United States, wind power is going to be directly competitive with conventional energy technologies within the next 10 years. None of this, therefore, none of what I have said, is beyond our capacity. It’s not a pipe dream; it’s a reality. It’s right there. And it’s up to us to grab it. The question is whether or not it is beyond our collective resolve.
Now, we have seen some encouraging progress, frankly, over the past few months. During President Obama’s trip to New Delhi early this year, and Fred referred to it in his introduction, India – well, both China and India – the President – affirmed its far-reaching solar energy target, and our two nations agreed on a number of climate and clean energy initiatives. We also committed to working closely together to achieve a successful global agreement in Paris. So India is joined in that challenge.
And that came on the heels of the historic announcement in China that the United States and China, the world’s two largest emitters of carbon pollution – two countries, by the way, long regarded as the leaders of opposing camps in the climate negotiations – have now found common ground on this issue. And I joined President Obama as he stood next to President Xi, and Todd was there when we unveiled our respective ambitious post-2020 mitigation commitments. That is an enormous achievement.
And it had an impact. It was felt in Lima at the COP meeting in Lima recently, and had an impact on the ability to move towards Paris with greater momentum. Around the same time, the EU announced its target as well, which means we now have strong commitments from the three largest emitters in the world.
Now we need more and more nations to follow suit and announce their ambitious mitigation targets as well. And because this has to be a truly all-hands-on-deck effort, I invite all of our partners – businesses and industry groups, mayors, governors throughout the country and around the world to announce their own targets, their commitments leading up to Paris, so we can set an example and create a grassroots movement towards success. This will help us come forward with plans that will help every country be able to reach their goals.
Now I am keenly aware that we can do a better job of engaging the private sector and our partners at the sub-national level of government in this effort. And I can tell you today that I plan to make certain in the next months that that happens. I know many of you have already made impressive announcements, those of you engaged in business or on the boards of an enterprise or eleemosynary or educational institutions. And you’ve helped to lay out how we can combat climate change, and I thank you for doing that. But now it’s time to build on those pledges. Let us know how you are doing. I say let us know through the State Department, through state.gov, and how we can help you make progress. And this is the kind of shared resolve that will help ensure that we are successful in Paris and beyond.
In closing, I ask you to consider one basic question. Suppose stretching your imaginations, as it will have to be, that somehow those 97 percent of studies that I just talked about – suppose that somehow they were wrong about climate change in the end. Hard to understand after 20 years of 97 percent, but imagine it. I just want you to imagine it. What are the consequences we would face for taking the actions that we’re talking about, and based on the notion that those might be correct? I’ll tell you what the consequences are. You’ll create an extraordinary number of jobs, you’ll kick our economies into gear all around the world, because we’ll be taking advantage of one of the biggest business opportunities the world has ever known.
We’ll have healthier people. Those billions of dollars of costs in the summer and at hospitals and for emphysema, lung disease, particulate cancer, will be reduced because we’ll be eliminating a lot of the toxic pollution coming from smoke stacks and tall pipes. Air will be cleaner. You can actually see your city. We’ll have a more secure world because it’ll be far easier for countries to attain the long-lasting energy independence and security they thrive – they need to thrive and not be blackmailed by another nation, cut off, their economy turned into turmoil because they can’t have the independence they need and the guarantees of energy supply.
We will live up in the course of all of that to our moral responsibility to leave the planet Earth in better condition than we were handed it, to live up to even scripture which calls on us to protect planet Earth. These – all of these things are the so-called consequences of global action to address climate change. What’s the other side of that question? What will happen if we do nothing and the climate skeptics are wrong and the delayers are wrong and the people who calculate cost without taking everything into account are wrong? The answer to that is pretty straightforward: utter catastrophe, life as we know it on Earth.
So I through my life have believed that you can take certain kinds of risks in the course of public affairs and life. My heroes are people who dared to take on great challenges without knowing for certain what the outcome would be. Lincoln took risks, Gandhi took risks, Churchill took risks, Dr. King took risks, Mandela took risks, but that doesn’t mean that every risk-taker is a role model. It’s one thing to risk a career or a life on behalf of a principle or to save or liberate a population. It’s quite another to wager the well-being of generations and life itself simply to continue satisfying the appetites of the present or to insist on a course of inaction long after all the available evidence has pointed to the folly of that path. Gambling with the future of Earth itself when we know full well what the outcome would be is beyond reckless. It is just plain immoral. And it is a risk that no one should take. We need to face reality. There is no planet B.
So I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy in these next months or even these next few years. If it were, we would have solved this decades ago when the science first revealed the facts of what we were facing. But it is crunch time now. We’ve used up our hall passes, our excuses. We’ve used up too much valuable time. We know what we have to do. And I am confident that we can find a way to summon the resolve that we need to tackle this shared threat. And we can reach an agreement in Paris, we can carve out a path toward a clean energy future, we can meet this challenge. That is our charge for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren, and it is a charge we must keep. Thank you all. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: I wanted to thank Secretary Kerry for his significant, passionate, focused remarks, important remarks that I think will really set up the road to Paris, but really way beyond that. We understand that you have to rush out to a very important meeting at the White House. I do want to ask just one question to close this off, and if you can broaden this to the energy world at large. We’re seeing falling prices, we’ve got the U.S. energy boom. How are you looking at the impact of both of those things in context of this? What is the geopolitics of these falling prices and the rise of America as really the leading, if not a leading energy producer in the world?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the impact is very significant, obviously. It’s certainly affected Russia’s income and the current situation in Russia. It’s affected the situation in Iran. It’s affected the budgets of those producing states. It has potential on some sides to strategically be helpful and the potential on other sides to be strategically damaging. For instance, if Petrocaribe were to fall because of events in Venezuela or because of price and so forth, we could wind up with a serious humanitarian challenge on our – in our near neighborhood.
And so there are a lot of pluses and minuses of it, but you have to remember the primary reason for America’s good fortune in this turnaround right now is LNG. It’s the production of gas and fracking and what’s happened in terms of our independence, at least – and we’re also producing more oil, by the way, at the same time. And we’ve become one of the world’s largest, if not the largest energy producer. That’s positive as long as we’re on a road to deal with the problem I just laid out here today.
But remember, while LNG is 50 percent less carbon-intensive than oil, it’s nevertheless carbon, and it has its impact. So it’s a movement in the right direction, but in the end, we’re going to have to do all the things I just talked about, which is move to sustainable, renewable, alternative other kinds of energy that don’t have that problem. And the way the world is going right now because of the dependency – another negative impact of that is that it has greatly reduced the price of coal, and therefore in certain countries, people are just going on a price basis and racing to coal. And that means we have a number of coal-fired power plants coming online in various countries at a rate that is simply destructive. And they’re not coming on with the latest technology in all cases.
There is no such thing in the end as absolutely clean coal. And so we have a challenge with respect to what we’re going to do. There are technologies that significantly clean coal, and when put in place, that’s very helpful. And if you can do carbon sequestration and storage, which isn’t happening enough – there’s a way to use it – but it’s, in the marketplace, I think, going to be far more expensive in the end than these other technologies which are coming online to produce other things at a far better cost. As I mentioned to you, wind is about to be in the next 10 years competitive with other energy. So that’s going to be an enormous transformation.
But what really has to happen here is the setting of a goal through the Paris agreement so that people suddenly see that countries everywhere are moving in this direction, and then the marketplace begins to move. That’s when innovators and entrepreneurs and investors start to say this is the future and it takes hold, and that accelerates the process itself. And when that begins to happen, that’s when this $6 trillion market and the ultimately 9 billion users component of this really kicks in and takes over.
So it’s a mixed bag for the moment, but I think we certainly see the roadmap to move in the right direction. Thank you.
MR. KEMPE: So in closing, let me just say three or four years ago, the Atlantic Council gave you its Global Citizen Award in conjunction with the UN General Assembly, not knowing how much you would now be further earning it with your miles on the ground. We want to thank you not just for your work on climate change, which is absolutely historic and groundbreaking, but really your visionary, principled, and tireless leadership at a time we know is historically challenging. Thank you. (Applause.)
I earned a place for Doctoral studies at some of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the world, but it all goes to waste if I can’t fund my studies. I deferred my place last year because I couldn’t get the funds together or at all for that matter. I figured, I’d take a year and hopefully things will come together.
But no one wants to give me PhD funding because my grades weren’t the best in undergrad due to my undiagnosed learning disabilities which influenced my grades in areas like math and science which I had to take for my journalism degree. Math, science and classes like Amish culture were completely irrelevant to my degree, but prerequisites are prerequisites. I’m told that in order to get funding my grades need to be the best of the best, but this doesn’t take into account my mitigating circumstances. Surely had I had the financial opportunity to get diagnosed earlier, I would have gotten the opportunity to learn ways to study and learn what worked for me. But alas, I didn’t have those opportunities and there go my funding chances.
Another reason no one wants to fund me is because my academic papers are not published in peer reviewed journals or academic journals, but every time I try and publish, I get told “we only accept published academics,” or I get told that I need to pay in order to get published. So let me get this right: I need money to publish so I can be a recognized academic so I can get PhD funding, but I can’t publish until I’ve been published and have the money? Maybe things work differently when you are already an established academic, but realistically speaking, how am I supposed to get started out? I was a journalist, but when applying for PhD funding, no one seems to care about journalism publications. Or at least this is what the rejection emails tell me.
Next step was to contact charities with grant applications. A list of charities was provided by my prior university, so I used that as a starting point. These are charities that are known to give student grants. And the response there has been dismal. Charities have been rude, mean, have told me to stop soliciting them, told me I’m not Palestinian enough or Arab enough. They’ve told me I don’t meet residency requirements, I don’t display financial hardship, I can’t provide up-to-date information about my disabilities, my grades aren’t good enough, I’m not involved enough or not Muslim enough. I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m too this, I’m too that. I’m not enough of this and not enough of that. One person even told me that it was “illegal” for them to give grants, when I know other students who have for a fact received grants from them. One person even replied saying “We don’t have any money. You probably have more money than our charity does.” Really, Really?! You want to go there. Okay, let’s go there. If you have consistent working plumbing, you have consistent heating in your house, don’t have to choose between paying your bills or buying food to eat, then trust me– you are way ahead of me.
Or what about the charity that tried to change my entire PhD topic of study, deeming my topic irrelevant and uninteresting. Firstly, I never asked for your advice on my topic of study, I asked for your sponsorship. Secondly, I have advising teams at each university that differ with you. Not only is my topic ever the more relevant, as it makes headline news regularly, but the top academics in my field believe it to be interesting, important and relevant. Thirdly, you may not know how academia works. For example: I can’t enroll in a music doctoral degree, get there and ask my advising team to support me in studying cryptozoology. Fourthly, you changed my ENTIRE topic. Meaning I would have to reapply all over again with a different proposal. And lastly, by changing every little thing about my topic, you made it your project and no longer mine.
Keep in mind that I am not harassing these people, charities, organizations, entities, etc. I send one email: A grant proposal. A university approved grant proposal. I don’t call, follow up, knock on their doors. I’m completely calm. And I’m not about to waste my life or time arguing with these ignoramuses.
Next, crowdfunding. Even though I have had limited success with crowdfunding. (By the way, I’m VERY grateful for the money I was able to raise. VERY!) Getting £1000 was not easy and almost impossible. I don’t know many people. The people that I do know don’t have money to spare. I’d even get emails in response to my crowdfunding that told me to give up, it was a waste of time, it’s never going to happen, that I need to not bother people, etc. I put myself out there. I tried. I got burned.
Tried the online scholarship search engines. I spend my life on those search engines. I qualify for nothing. Somehow, I don’t qualify for anything.
Even the Said scholarship set up for Palestinians won’t fund me unless I go to Oxford or Cambridge and even though there’s an academic at Cambridge who said he would take me on, I applied there twice and couldn’t get through the first round because my undergrad grades from 10 years ago in math and science were rubbish. I got rejected by Oxford three times for the same reason. (If you’re really polite, nice, desperate and willing to make contacts, lecturers/professor/staff will secretly tell you why you didn’t get in. Doesn’t work everytime, but you get lucky every so often.)
Bottom line- no one cares that I have learning difficulties. No one cares that the American education system is different than the British, European and Australian systems. No one cares that my overall undergrad GPA was a 3.12, but my GPA for my major and minor was a 3.67. No one care that my first MA was on a pass/fail basis. No one care that during my 2nd MA I became registered disabled due to some serious problems in my back that can’t be fixed, but only coped with.
No one cares that I went to the 4th most overpopulated high school in my state, or that my high school teachers told me I wouldn’t succeed to my face or that 9/11 happened during my sophomore year or that the devastation of 9/11 turned our sophomore curriculum upside down or that some of my classes didn’t have classrooms, books, set curriculums or that so many times our teachers gave up, walked out of class and stopped teaching, or that there were 50 students in my classroom or that my high school suffered from riots, bomb threats and at least one major fight a day or that I got bullied mercilessly or that all of these problems affected my learning experience.
When I got to my first year of undergrad I had no confidence, I thought I was dumb, I didn’t know how to study, I had never had to sit through a class longer than 40 minutes, I never had to write an assignment longer than two pages, I never had to use citations, I had never done a research paper, I never had to memorize information, I didn’t know I could get tested for learning disabilities, I didn’t know so many things. I spent most of the first two years of undergrad crying because undergrad hit me like a brick. High school in no way prepared me for undergrad and in comparison to the students in my class that had better academic upbringings, I could tell I was behind. No one cares that I can play a mean game of catch up. But catch up can’t change the past.
I worked my nerves to its ends and got into an Ivy League MA program, where again, I felt I had to play catch up because I was no longer studying journalism and entered into the wonderful world of Liberal Studies. I competed against students who had formal training in studying gender, culture and globalization. It was all new to me. I struggled, a lot. But I’m proud of what I accomplished there. And again I had to play catch up for my second MA as I competed against students who had their first degree is Middle Eastern Studies. Middle Eastern studies was a topic I read about in my spare time. I never studied it intensely or formally, I dabbled, but everyone else was way ahead of the game. I worked day and night, in spite of my medical difficulties and hardship to reach a level in which I finally felt my peers were finally my intellectual peers. I stumbled, A LOT, but no one gets points for most improved on their transcript. If only their were a module in which there were marks for effort, motivation, time spent, passion, determination and promise. If only I could get graded against myself as opposed to against my classmates. Or get a mark for moving my life across the planet by myself to another country, to a completely different educationally structured system and succeeding.
My motivation and ambition doesn’t count for anything on paper because there will always be someone with a perfect GPA or academic standing that gets ahead of me. These things will never show up on a transcript. And if there is anything I’ve learned it’s that transcripts are more important than letters of purpose.
I can’t provide up-to-date information on my disabilities because I haven’t seen a doctor since being back in America. I signed up for that whole Obamacare business and my application for health insurance keeps getting bounced around from office to office and no one seems to know when I will finally have health insurance or if I ever will. Whenever I ask what I should do if I’m sick, they say go to this and this doctor, but you’ll have to play out of pocket. Yup, can’t do that. I have no money. No income.
That no income part, my loan servicers don’t seem to believe that. Seeing as they are federal loans, you’d think they can check and see if I am employed or not via paying taxes, but maybe that’s asking too much. I have to pay back $130,000 in student loans starting in March because that is when my deferment period ends. I applied for unemployment deferment, got rejected and told to apply for income based repayment. Yeah, that’s going to be tough to do because there is no income to speak of.
Not because I don’t want an income. I have been applying for every type of job under the sun since May 2014. Even physical labor jobs which I know will only cause my disability to worsen. And guess what? I still can’t get a job. Signed up with recruitment and temp agencies, LinkedIn profile, Craigslist, Indeed, Simplyhired, Idealist– I get maybe 20 emails a day from different websites listing all these job opportunities. I apply and apply and apply and nothing. When I finally do get the chance at an interview, I set it up, date and time. I’m dressed and ready and pumped and every time they cancel on me with no prior notice.
Even though I have no job and I’m living off of my maxed out credit cards, I still somehow don’t qualify for food stamps, unemployment benefits or any other kinds of benefits. How did I manage that? How? Beats me!
Despite it all, I’m not bitter. I’m not angry. I’m upset, sure. I don’t expect a handout or pity. I’m not going to sit here and toot my own horn about how I’m an amazing human being or list all my good karma points. I’m far from perfect and I’m not entitled to anything in this world. But I want a fair fighting chance. I want more than what’s on paper to count. I want to live and not simply get by, but to really live.
I still remain optimistic that things will work out. I won’t stop trying and neither should you.
Opportunity: Look out, I’m coming for you!
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