COP21, Me, and You

COP21, Me, and You

What you need to know about the United Nations climate change conference.

The world will be in Paris this December for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Its hope? To set a universal and legally-binding limit on climate change due to human-created greenhouse gas emissions. Universal because there are 195 members to the Conference of the Parties (COP), and legally-binding to compel nations by law to follow through with the agreement. There has never been such a global-scale motion to combat climate change.

Here is some context:

COP — the only broadly legitimate, international entity centered on climate change — is the product of an agreement made in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The convention was not legally binding and merely gave parties a framework by which to establish protocols to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. COP has met every year since 1992. This year's meeting will be its 21st, which is why it is called COP21.

The conference is also called CMP11 because it is the 11th Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997. Under the protocol, climate change mitigation commitments were legally binding but varied from nation to nation. Annex I countries, including the United States and European Union, committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Other nations such as China and India made no such commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. However, even for Annex I nations, the protocol could not have real effect without many nations ratifying it, and the U.S. never did pass it through Congress. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008 to 2012. The second period, which began in 2013, expires in 2020.

In order for the world to move forward on the issue of climate change, all nations must contribute to the movement. After a disappointing conference in Copenhagen in 2009, which was rushed and scattered (although it did produce an agreement for parties to curb global warming by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels), the nations met in Durban in 2011. They came up with the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action and a corresponding ad hoc committee (ADP), which would work for a universal, legally-binding agreement by 2015. The conference in Paris will be the culmination of that work.

Here are some facts about COP21:

COP21 will take place between November 30 and December 11, 2015, in the French capital. 40,000 people are expected to attend, including national delegates, observers, and civil society members. There is a lot of pressure: the imminent expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2020, the need for major polluters such as the U.S. and China to lead the world to an agreement about climate change, and the environmental catastrophes that will result from rising global temperatures of more than 2 degrees. A lot needs to change, and not the climate.

There is some hope that it will. As part of a bottom-up approach, each member nation has agreed to produce an intended nationally-determined contribution (INDC) with its goals for emissions reductions and climate change mitigation. In a landmark joint statement, the U.S. said it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, while China said its emissions would peak by 2030. Around 150 countries have submitted their INDCs so far, and a summary of the contributions will be written by Nov. 1. The idea behind this approach is to push each nation to come up with its own ambitious and feasible solutions, which will be evaluated when all nations come together.

Another major part of COP21 is an economic agreement that will mobilize $100 billion for climate change mitigation every year. This sum will come from developed nations as well as private and public enterprises starting from 2020, and there is already a Green Climate Fund with an initial capital of $10.2 billion. Through this economic plan, COP21 will support not only climate change solutions but also sustainable investment and development.

The most important part about COP21, however, at least for me (and hopefully for the world), is the broad involvement of all parties who have a stake in the issue of climate change. I do not mean just delegates of member nations; instead, I mean members of civil society such as representatives of NGOs, businesses, subnational governments, cultural organizations, and academic institutions. Yale will have its own delegation; I will be part of it.

Whether or not the conference will meet the high expectations the world has for it — the universal legally-binding agreement we hope will curb global warming — the leadup to COP21 has already brought the issue of climate change onto a global stage. Many nations have already submitted an INDC, and many delegations are already prepared to meet. But the real impetus for a new agreement on climate change comes from members of civil society like us. The more attention we pay to COP21's unfolding — the more we read the news, respond to it, and incorporate sustainability into our actions — the more pressure we will add to the conference's proceedings.

Cover Image Credit: COP21

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.

Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school. I’ll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted. Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I’m 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?” A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?”, I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week.” I let it roll off of my back, I’ve spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back”… but I think it’s time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister. She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn’t have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her. I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn’t though. I didn’t let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization. Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn’t directed to what we, in today’s society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one’s self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 ‘You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so. This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God’s creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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Sorry, SJWs, But 'It's My Truth' Is Not A Real Argument And Not Always The Real Truth

Just because you believe it doesn't mean everyone else does.


Last week, Steven Crowder, a conservative commentator with the podcast show Louder With Crowder, posted a new video to his viral web series Change My Mind. The topic of this video was "There Are Only 2 Genders: Change My Mind." Regardless of your belief on whether or not there are two genders or not, I wanted to call attention to a word phrase that was numerously said throughout the course of the dialogue in the video between Steven and the brave volunteers who disagreed with him.

Watch, and see if you can find the phrase I am talking about. Steven Crowder even points it out himself.

The phrase I'm referring to, incase you didn't catch it in the first 15 minutes is "My truth."

The first guest to sit down was Danielle Skidmore, a Transgender Woman running for Austin City Council this year. Consistently throughout her argument for the existence of more than two genders she keeps telling him that "her truth" tells her that there is more than two.

"My truth" is not a legitimate argument. Just because it is how you view yourself, the world around you, and what makes sense to you does not make it true for everyone else. That is called your experience. The better phrasing would be "in my experience, I have come to believe," not, "I'm living my truth. This is why I believe it and why you should too."

Steven Crowder points out that he wants "the truth" numerous times to combat her "truth." Danielle Skidmore tells him that the truth is her truth. This is not how problems get solved or how we advance society. If we all believe "our truth" and refuse to look at "the truth" with facts and statistics that back it up then nothing will get accomplished. Anything that does will not be concrete laws or rulings because everyone will have their own way of interpreting it.

It is time we start as a country to base our laws on facts.

There is so much calling for miscellaneous laws that we already have one for, the right to, or the need for a law has no foundation to it. If we actually began looking at the laws we have and the background of them, we would find that most, if not all, cover a lot of what Equal Rights Activists fight for.

The idea of "my truth" is tainting society's way of thought, and how we comprehend the world around us.

People's truth does not always contain all the facts because of their bias and their unwillingness to see the other side. I fall to this too sometimes, and I have moments where I say something should not be a way because I just think that. This is wrong, and it should not be how our country is run.

Laws and policies need to be thought out with all the facts, and with the complete truth. "My truth" is not going to get us anywhere because not everyone has the same experiences and thoughts as that one singular person. The truth is the only way America can be promised just and rightful laws and protections.

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