Earth Charter , Climate Change and Human Rights


Climate Change and Human Rights

The Edmund Rice International Team attended the recent celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This event took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. One of the more striking presentations took the form of a panel discussion on The Earth Charter.  Some are familiar with the words of the Preamble for the charter: ” We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace.”  It is a small step from here to the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching that call for taking seriously our responsibility to each other.  Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland,  has spoken recently of the immense human consequences of climate change on the most vulnerable peoples.  People who are already vulnerable will be disproportionately affected. ” Slowly and incrementally , land will become too dry to till, crops will wither, rising sea levels will undermine coastal dwellings and spoil freshwater, species will disappear, livelihoods will vanish. Only very gradually will the  awful consequences reach those whose lifestyles and activities are most to blame. ”   In response to some of these kinds of entreaties about how we live now, the recent Province Chapter of Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America was clear in its resolution that we strive to live sustainably.  There was clearly a sense at the Paris conference that the link between care of the Earth and universal human rights can no longer be dismissed as mere semantics.  The human right to a decent habitat and adequate food supply is clearly compromised when global warming harms the planet for so many.   Human rights law is relevant because climate change causes human rights violations.

The Earth Charter embodies many values that can guide our behavior and shape our decisions about how to make living sustainably a reality.  The Charter can be the platform for discussion in community and schools and ministry sites.  Here is a link for more information:


In the spirit of trying to make each month some global (see above) and some local connections for site visitors I include here a note from Azedeh Ensha writing in the New York Times on October 2, 2008.  The piece made suggestions about electricity consumption by various appliances. Consider:  A standard-issue PC and monitor left on all the time consume 1,109 kilowatt-hours a year, according to estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (USA).  By comparison, refrigerators that meet federal (USA) energy-use regulations use, on average, about 514 kilowatt-hours a year.  Advice:  dont leave your computer on all the time.  In addition it should be set to go to sleep after periods of inactivity.

You may want to try downloading a free power-management tool.  They can show you ways to save energy by adjusting some of the settings on your computer:  (  Another tool comes from Verdiem: (


The TakeBack coalition helps promote responsible recycling in electronics.  The list of recyclers can be found at (

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