Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.

Tuesday

New UN report demands immediate urgent action on climate change | The Council of Canadians

New UN report demands immediate urgent action on climate change | The Council of Canadians: The the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report that says governments must make "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to avoid disastrous levels of climate change. The panel’s report, released earlier this week, says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, increasing the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. According to CNN, “the planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C. Avoiding going even higher will require significant action in the next few years.” "This is concerning because we know there are so many more problems if we exceed 1.5 degrees C global warming, including more heatwaves and hot summers, greater sea level rise, and, for many parts of the world, worse droughts and rainfall extremes," Andrew King, a lecturer in climate science at the University of Melbourne, said in a statement.
 CNN reports that global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach "net zero" around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C. Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, the report says. "The window on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C is closing rapidly and the current emissions pledges made by signatories to the Paris Agreement do not add up to us achieving that goal," added King. The report makes it clear that climate change is already happening – and what comes next could be even worse unless urgent international political action is taken.

Zero Hunger: Our Actions Today Are Our Future Tomorrow

Zero Hunger: Our Actions Today Are Our Future Tomorrow | Inter Press Service

ROME, Oct 15 2018 (IPS) - Just three years ago, in September 2015, all United Nations Member States approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The eradication of hunger and all forms of malnutrition (Sustainable Development Goal number 2) was defined by world leaders as a cardinal objective of the Agenda, a sine qua non condition for a safer, fairer and more peaceful world.

Paradoxically, global hunger has only grown since then. According to the latest estimates, the number of undernourished people in the world increased in 2017, for the third consecutive year. Last year, 821 million people suffered from hunger (11 percent of the world population – one in nine people on the planet), most of them family and subsistence farmers living in poor rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
However, the growing rate of undernourished people is not the only big challenge we are facing. Other forms of malnutrition have also increased. In 2017, at least 1.5 billion people suffered from micronutrient deficiencies that undermine their health and lives, At the same time, the proportion of adult obesity continues to rise , from 11.7 percent in 2012 to 13.3 percent in 2016 (or 672.3 million people).

Dutch appeals court upholds landmark climate change ruling | Environment | The Guardian

Dutch appeals court upholds landmark climate change ruling | Environment | The Guardian

A court in The Hague has upheld a historic legal order on the Dutch government to accelerate carbon emissions cuts, a day after the world’s climate scientists warned that time was running out to avoid dangerous warming.
Appeal court judges ruled that the severity and scope of the climate crisis demanded greenhouse gas reductions of at least 25% by 2020 – measured against 1990 levels – higher than the 17% drop planned by Mark Rutte’s liberal administration.
The ruling – which was greeted with whoops and cheers in the courtroom – will put wind in the sails of a raft of similar cases being planned around the world, from Norway to New Zealand and from the UK to Uganda.
Marjan Minnesma, the director of the Urgenda campaign which brought the case, called on political leaders to start fighting climate change rather than court actions.

Friday

Nobel Peace Prize to Mukwege and Murad!

BREAKING NEWS:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

Saturday

'How can I be happy?' Narrated by Stephen Fry - British Humanist Association

'How can I be happy?' Narrated by Stephen Fry - British Humanist Association

The long experience of tens of thousands of years of human beings living in communities has developed and refined our morality and we are all the lucky inheritors of that hard work.
But it does not mean that there are not people who do harm, or make bad choices.
But ultimately, morality comes from us, not from any god. It is to do with people, with individual goodwill and social responsibility; it is about not being completely selfish, about kindness and consideration towards others.
Ideas of freedom, justice, happiness, equality, fairness and all the other values we may live by are human inventions, and we can be proud of that, as
we strive to live up to them.

Friday

Lawyer: 'Monsanto's History Is Full of Lies'

Anti-Monsanto Lawyer: 'Monsanto's History Is Full of Lies' - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Monsanto has an internal program called "Let Nothing Go." The aim of this program is to attack scientists who are critical of Monsanto products. They go after people directly and discredit them. They also pay others to do so.

...nother program is called "Freedom to Operate." Its purpose is to eliminate everything that might disrupt sales of their products - laws, scientific articles, they go after everything. As part of that effort, they also engage lobbyists - scientists who Monsanto pays for their opportunism. Such programs reflect a corporate culture that shows no interest whatsoever in public health, only in profits.

DER SPIEGEL: Monsanto continues to dispute that it tried to influence scientific research. What was the critical factor for jurors in reaching the verdict?
Wisner: I believe it was the scientific findings themselves. The 12 jurors were not lightweights after all. There was a molecular biologist, an environmental engineer, a lawyer. Some colleagues told me: "Be careful Brent, so much intelligence can be an impediment." But I was certain that the arguments in the critical studies, parts of which were suppressed, were the strongest evidence we had.

Saturday

'A man of enormous compassion': Adrienne Clarkson reacts to Kofi Annan’s death | CTV News

'A man of enormous compassion': Adrienne Clarkson reacts to Kofi Annan’s death | CTV News
Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson is remembering her friend and ex-United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan as “a man of enormous compassion” and “intense human vulnerability.”
The first black African to lead the United Nations, Annan died at the age of 80 after a short illness, his family and foundation announced on Saturday.
The relationship between Clarkson and Annan spanned a quarter of a century and the pair served together on the board of directors for the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.
Those qualities, Clarkson said, included dignity, generosity, understanding, compassion and a capacity for listening that “is very rare in world leaders.”“I think that what was remarkable about Kofi Annan was that he hereditarily -- and for centuries I guess, because that’s the way African tribal life is -- was really a king and a prince in his own culture,” Clarkson said. “He brought all of the best qualities of that to his international work in the modern world for the UN.”
She added that Annan was not “a power technocrat” and that while he was realistic in his assessment of the world’s most complex problems, “he never lost hope and he never became cynical.”

Former UN chief and Nobel peace laureate Kofi Annan dies aged 80

Former UN chief and Nobel peace laureate Kofi Annan dies aged 80

The U.N. can be improved, it is not perfect but if it didn’t exist you would have to create it,” he told the BBC’s Hard Talk during an interview for his 80th birthday last April, recorded at the Geneva Graduate Institute where he had studied.
“I am a stubborn optimist, I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist,” Annan added.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, paid tribute to Annan as “humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace”.
Zeid, who has criticized major powers and other countries during his four-year term that ends later this month, said that whenever he felt “isolated and alone politically”, he would go for long walks with Annan in Geneva.
“When I told him once how everyone was grumbling about me, he looked at me — like a father would look at a son — and said sternly: “You’re doing the right thing, let them grumble.” Then he grinned!

Wednesday

Health Canada to End Outdoor Use of Two Bee Killing Neonicotinoids : Friends of the Earth Canada

Health Canada to End Outdoor Use of Two Bee Killing Neonicotinoids : Friends of the Earth Canada: August 15, 2018 (Ottawa) – Friends of the Earth Canada welcomes the proposed decision by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency to end outdoor use of Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, two of the most widely used neonicotinoid pesticides in the world.

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are systemic chemical insecticides that are found in all tissues of treated plants, including pollen and nectar. Neonics pose threats to non-target organisms like bees, which are responsible for pollinating one third of the world’s crops and 90 per cent of all wild plants. “This is testament to the persistence of Canadians. Literally 100s of thousands have petitioned government to make a special review of these bee-toxic chemicals.

 It is especially telling that the proposed decisions are based on unacceptable residues in our water and their impact on aquatic invertebrates – they haven’t yet finished the bee studies,” said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada. Today’s decision, along with the 2016 proposed decision on Imidicloprid, brings Canada in line with the European Union which banned the pesticides in April this year after a moratorium on their use since 2013. Today’s decision is an important step in protecting pollinators and Canada’s agricultural industry.

 Canadian beekeepers have reported significant losses since neonicotinoids were given conditional registration by PMRA. Despite growing complaints, PMRA continued to renew conditional registrations. “Five years ago I launched the save the bees campaign in Canada and PMRA told me there was nothing to worry about – neonicotiniods were safe. Today, PMRA is finally saying the use of these pesticides is not sustainable,” said John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor, Friends of the Earth Canada. Despite the high levels of Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam found in waters, PMRA is proposing a three to five year phase-out rather than an immediate ban. The European Union has seen marginal impact on agricultural production since it stopped the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in 2013. A number of other studies have concluded the prophylactic use of neonicotinoids has little impact on yields. “Three to five years is too long to allow pesticide pollution to continue. PMRA is putting the economic interests of multinational corporations before the safety of our environment. Our environmental security requires an immediate halt to the use of these pesticides” said Ms. Olivastri. Friends of the Earth Canada’s #BeeCause campaign has called for a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides since 2013 mobilizing tens of thousands of Canadian, distributing bee friendly plant seeds and testing flowering plants sold by garden centres.

 Friends of the Earth is one of four environmental groups represented by Ecojustice in the November 2018 hearing against PMRA where we are asking the court to rule that the PMRA’s “approve first, study the science later” approach is unlawful and that the practice of granting approvals without science cannot continue.

Michelle Bachelet, Ex-President of Chile, Picked as Next U.N. Rights Chief - The New York Times

Michelle Bachelet, Ex-President of Chile, Picked as Next U.N. Rights Chief - The New York Times
The leader of the United Nations said on Wednesday that he had picked Michelle Bachelet, a prominent women’s rights advocate and the first woman to serve as Chile’s president, to be the organization’s next top human rights official.
The announcement by Secretary General António Guterres ended the uncertainty over who would replace Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and longtime diplomat who became one of the most forthright critics of abuses by governments in many countries, including the United States, during his four years as the high commissioner for human rights.
Mr. al-Hussein said in December that he would not be seeking an extension of his term, which expires next month. He told colleagues that “to do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication.”
Ms. Bachelet, 66, who was imprisoned and tortured during Chile’s right-wing dictatorship and years later became a pediatrician and politician, will be stepping into a particularly difficult and contentious role at the 193-member organization.

Ban GM Field Tests - CBAN

Ban GM Field Tests - CBAN

On June 14, the Canadian government announced a contamination incident with unapproved genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) wheat. Several GM wheat plants were found on a road in Alberta in an isolated contamination case and the government does not know how they got there. No GM wheat was ever approved for growing or eating in Canada, but the GM trait found growing in Alberta was field tested from 1998-2000.
The National Farmers Union has called for a ban on outdoor testing of GM crops. Please support this call by sending your letter from this website today (using the green box on the right of this page).
“The only way to prevent these incidents happening in the future is to ban outdoor testing.” – Terry Boehm, Chair of the National Farmers’ Union Seed Committee

UN: Torture in any form is absolutely unacceptable

Torture in any form, is absolutely unacceptable and can never be justified, UN said on Tuesday, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, urging great support for victims worldwide.
In his message to mark the Day, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the “absolute prohibition” of torture is “stipulated in unequivocal terms’’ as a foundational principle, within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Much has been achieved in the fight against this and other cruel, inhuman, degrading punishment and treatment, yet more action is needed to eradicate torture fully. He underscored that the victims have the right to justice, rehabilitation and redress.
The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture marks the moment in 1987, when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, came into effect.
The Day also served as a rallying cry for all stakeholders, including the UN Member States, civil society and individuals to unite in support of victims of torture and those who are still subjected to the ghastly practice.