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January 2016
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Happy 2016 to the MAHB Community!

2015 was a year that proved to be both joyous and troubling for a community focused on moving society towards a more sustainable and equitable future. Despite our progress in agreements, public statements, and goals in 2015, our work is by no means complete. Rather, 2016 will again call upon us to push lagging systems, to transform goals into meaningful actions, and to ensure that overconsumption, overpopulation, and inequity are recognized and countered. Thank you all for joining together to take on these critical tasks.

In this issue, MAHB Executive Director Joan Diamond, kicks off of the new year by reflecting on the organization’s efforts in 2015, while MAHB President Paul Erhlich calls for action in 2016.

We also bring you updates from three MAHB Nodes: WeForest, Media Messaging, and Active Remedy Ltd., showcasing the range of approaches being taken to galvanize critical changes.

The issue also includes a spotlight on the MAHB website, a bulletin for the Environmental Impact art exhibition, and an introduction to the recent addition to our newsletter team, Allie Shoffner.

Thank you for reading, please contact us with any questions.

Using media to recognize issues and viewpoints under-represented in public discourse
Image courtesy of Dave Gardner

Node | Media Messaging

Erika Gavenus with Dave Gardner

Media outlets inundate us with messages that shape our perceptions and behaviors. Yet too often the issues highlighted and the stories shared are slanted away from the true challenges facing society and the world. Can we change that? Can we use media-based tools and outlets to recognize and celebrate important viewpoints under-represented in the public debate?

Dave Gardner and the non-profit Citizen-Powered Media are demonstrating not only that we can, but that we must. Using its communications, filmmaking, and media relations expertise, Citizen-Powered Media focuses on issues where profit-making entities dominate the discussion particularly: the environment, sustainability, and population. Â Examples of the group’s pioneering work include the documentary film and public education project GrowthBusters and the regularly updated media watchdog site GrowthBiasBusted.org, which points out pro-growth biases in mainstream media messaging. The group also releases shorter videos exposing growth addiction through the GrowthBusters YouTube channel.

This past fall Citizen-Powered Media and Dave Gardner took to the airwaves with the weekly radio series Conversation Earth. Each week Dave discusses our place on this planet with one of our time’s visionary thought leaders. Through candid conversations with guests including Bill McKibbenLorna SalzmanRobert JensenPaul R. Ehrlich, and others, episodes delve into complicated, often shrouded, aspects of humanity’s relationship with the planet. Thought provoking and entertaining, the series deservedly received praise from thought leaders and listeners alike:

“Industrial society is hurling in a direction enormously different than we expected. The unique constellations of savants presented in Conversation Earth helps us understand the forces propelling us there. It is a timely and important set of discussions.” –Dennis Meadows, Co-author, The Limits to Growth

“Conversation Earth is about the most serious problem facing humanity –how to keep our insane addiction to growth from causing the collapse of civilization. Every human being should be exposed to this series.” –Paul R. Ehrlich

“Conversation Earth Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed. Keep bringing it.” –Matt McWilliams, listener

You can listen to the full series on ConversationEarth.org or subscribe via iTunes and SoundCloud. If you enjoy listening be sure to ask your public and community stations to carry the new series, which is available free for broadcasting on local stations —the more people Conversation Earth reaches, the greater its impact. Click here to help the series stay in production.

Visit the Media Messaging Node to learn more about Citizen-Powered Media’s innovative work, to find opportunities to be involved, and to join the conversation on how media can be utilized to effectively promote change.

Active Remedy Ltd. shares how the global water cycle is fundamental to achieving Sustainable Development 
Water Scarcity a Problem at IDP Camps in North Darfur by UN Photo/Albert González Farran
 

Node | Active Remedy Ltd.

Stella Joy, Activte Remedy Ltd. Co-founder and Director

January 2016 is a historic month for Sustainable Development. In September 2015, world governments agreed upon the new Sustainable Development Agenda, which will form the framework for Sustainable Development for the next fifteen years. In January 2016, the process towards achieving the new goals and targets comes into effect. This document is entitled ‘Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.

We at Active Remedy Ltd. have spent years raising awareness of the importance of safeguarding the global water cycle, as this is one issue that affects all of us and all life on Earth. We are particularly interested in Goal 6 as it covers the crucial issue of water. We feel that this is a foundational issue that determines the success or lack of success in achieving all of the other goals. We are deeply concerned that the fact that Sustainable Development would not be possible without a healthy functioning water cycle, is mostly overlooked.

Therefore, for the purposes of clarifying this point and offering suggestions as to how it may realistically be possible to achieve the wide array of goals and targets set out within this agenda, we have created a strategy document. We hope that you will find this to be both informative and refreshing, covering many important points in a light, exciting and highly visual manner. This document sets out to provide a framework for putting the diverse goals and targets into relation with each other and also proposes an innovative procedure that could aid considerably with implementation. We have also added links to some very interesting documents that, when put together, help to give a far more complete and cohesive picture of what is required for achieving Sustainable Development. Here is the document:

A Strategic Approach to 'Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development'

We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight Goal 6.6: â€œBy 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes”

It has taken a lot of work, from many committed individuals, to get such a clear directive to protect and restore the ecosystems, which are essential for maintaining the global water cycle, included within the new Sustainable Development Agenda. We feel that this is an important and timely step towards the realisation of Sustainable Development.

WeForst's recent brief focuses on how forests enable a healthy water cycle
Thailand Waterfall © WeForest

Node | WeForest

Erika Gavenus with Marie-Noelle Keijzer and Pascaline Haedrich

WeForest, an international non-profit organization, is advancing a reforestation movement to put trees back where they belong —to mitigate climate change, to protect the water cycle, to promote biodiversity and healthy soil, and to support livelihoods. By harnessing the combined powers of corporate brands, engaged citizens, local planting organizations, and leading science, WeForest has already planted more than 10 million trees in equatorial regions, with 50 million more scheduled in the next four years! 

WeForest has achieved this impact through an innovative business model that leverages corporate resources by enabling brands to use trees to engage customers.  Through different strategies, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments, ad-hoc campaigns, and product-specific promotion, corporations sponsor trees on behalf of themselves, their customers, or their employees. WeForest uses the funds to support certified local partners in undertaking reforestation projects. The projects follow science-based best practices to maximize environmental and socio-economic benefits.

The indicator measurements taken to monitor the projects also inform research at the nexus of forest, water cycle, and climate studies. During its annual conference in June 2015, WeForest hosted researchers in the fields of forests and water cycle dynamics in Leuven, Belgium. The knowledge exchanged during this conference made it clear that political and economic discussions that reduce forests to stocks of carbon discount some of the critical ways forest processes influence the climate and water cycle. In response, WeForest prepared the brief Managing Forests for Water and for Climate Cooling to be presented in Paris during COP21. Managing Forests for Water and for Climate Cooling outlines five ways, beyond serving as a carbon sink, forests enable a more stable climate and functioning water cycle:

  1.    Forests promote precipitation
  2.    Trees and forests are natural cooling systems
  3.    Forests generate air and moisture flows
  4.    Trees and forests can improve groundwater recharge
  5.    Forests can moderate flooding

The brief goes on to present actions and recommendations for moving forward to support these five critical forest processes. The full brief was launched in Paris on December 6th during the Global Landscape Forum, which focused on the role sustainable landscapes have in transforming climate and Sustainable Development goals into action. Through its ongoing reforestation projects, WeForest demonstrates one way social momentum can be used to achieve just that.

To learn more about WeForest, the companies it works with, and its planting projects visit WeForest.org.

Find out more about MAHB Nodes
To share your Node's recent activities, please contact erika@mahbonline.org

From the traveling museum exhibition Environmental Impact 
"Shades of Green; Amphorae ca. 2012" 2012, Oil on Canvas, 26x50 by Karen Hackenberg

MAHB Website

The MAHB Website serves this community by helping you connect with other members, leading resources, and innovative approaches.

Here are a few parts of the website that we are particularly excited about:

MAHB Artists Community: In recognition of the unique capacity for the arts to shape attitudes and perceptions about the environment, the MAHB is dedicating space to bringing the arts and sciences into conversation with each other. This space will allow members to share their own work, learn from artists already engaging with these themes, receive news about opportunities, connect with scientists, and participate in conversations about how to use the arts to promote change.

In the coming weeks, artists featured in the national-touring museum exhibition Environmental Impact will be helping us launch this space with their amazing artwork and stories. The exhibition and its tour are produced by David J. Wagner, L.L.C.

The MAHB is recruiting other artists interested in piloting the space. Please contact Erika if you would like to take part or know people and groups we should reach out to.

MAHB Library: The MAHB hosts an online library - a repository of resources relevant to the global environmental crisis caused by humans. The MAHB Library is continually updated to connect you with leading resources, from scholarly articles and critically acclaimed books to op-eds and spoken word poetry. Whether you are wanting to stay up to date via the frontpage or searching for something specific, the MAHB Library is a wonderful place to learn more about the multifaceted challenges to sustainability and equity. 

MAHB Events Calendar: To better inform MAHB members about upcoming events, we have set up a MAHB Events Calendar hosted on the website! You can view upcoming events and also submit your own events for sharing via the calendar.

Environmental 

Impact Exhibition

On February 6th, the traveling museum exhibition Environmental Impact will open at Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art in Moraga, California. David J. Wagner, L.L.C. produced this exhibition with the purpose of 1) recognizing, documenting, and sharing the work of leading contemporary artists who chose to focus their work on global as well as local environmental issues; and 2) heightening public awareness and concern about the intentional or unintentional consequences of human action or inaction.  

Environmental Impact brings together 75 works of art that address numerous ominous environmental issues through a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, and print. Curator David Wagner draws upon a diverse range of artists whose pieces are hard-hitting and propel the Environmental Movement forward. During the opening reception on February 14th, seven of these esteemed artists will take part in a panel session to discuss their work, motivation, and the power of art.

Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art is the final stop of the exhibition’s inaugural tour that premiered September 1, 2013 in Canton, Ohio. Environmental Impact will be on exhibit through April 3, 2016. You can learn more about the exhibition here.


Welcoming Allie to the Newsletter Team

The MAHB newsletters are made possible by the incredible work of our volunteer team. The team continues to grow with Allie Shoffner joining Lisa and David. Allie is currently pursuing a MS through the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with an interest in urban ecology and sustainability.

Please join the MAHB in welcoming Allie and thanking the whole newsletter team for their role in keeping you informed about news, events, and developments within the MAHB community.

2015 In Retrospect

Joan Diamond, MAHB Executive Director

As we know, a fundamental goal of the MAHB is to provide a place where progressive civil society—individuals, organizations, and institutions—can work together to address the environmental and social challenges threatening humanity. Too often we compete with one another for scarce dollars and the attention of funders and the public; in doing so, we diminish our potential political impact and our concerns are not adequately addressed in international, national and local policy and norms.

2015 saw significant progress for the MAHB, thanks in part to Erika Gavenus, MAHB Director of Communications, who has worked with many of you to help find colleagues, opportunities and ways to contribute—many of your individual and nodal accomplishments have been highlighted on our website and in our newsletter. However, most of the credit for the MAHB’s progress goes to you, our members, who are aggressively seeking strategies for moving our society forward and sharing those strategies with others. The MAHB’s vision of a cyber-hub, a meeting place for progressive civil society is gradually becoming a reality. 

In addition to Paul Ehrlich’s many radio interviews and presentations in Australia, Sweden, UK, Mexico, and New Zealand in 2015, the MAHB had a major presence at the prestigious KyungHee University in South Korea, during their KyungHee International Forum for Identifying Changes in the World. Complementing this were meetings in India, China, Japan, and Hong Kong. It is clear: on an international scale, global civil society is seeking ways to work together for greater policy impact—ways to expedite the necessary changes. Without a doubt, there is an important place for the MAHB in the world.

The MAHB was a major player in the promotion and distribution of the beautiful book Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot and distributed over two hundred copies in 6 countries. Copies of the book are still available here.

The MAHB made less progress on our fundraising and launching of a major initiative but remain optimistic that with ever more organizational pieces in place, we can accomplish this in 2016.

The MAHB continues to be fueled by volunteers—and we thank all of you—especially Lisa Coedy, David Belt, Tim Robinson, David Wagner, Allie Shoffner and our many blog authors. The MAHB continues to seek more bloggers—activists, scholars, students, people who think and care; we are especially interested in expanding the diversity of our authors:  ethnicity, age, nationality, and topics of concern.

Thank you, I look forward to working with you in 2016, and let us know how we can help you,
Joan

Looking Forward in 2016

Paul R. Ehrlich, MAHB President

The most important year in the short history of the MAHB is likely to be 2016. In the US, it’s a presidential election year in which the existential problems facing human civilization are barely getting a mention. To me it looks like the trends toward plutocracy, theocracy, and possibly even fascism are gaining momentum in the United States, and I trust the MAHB will help counter them. One can hope that the Paris climate agreement will be reinforced, especially when the negative effects of climate disruption are becoming ever more obvious, and here again MAHB can continue to push for the obvious steps to be taken. That especially applies to throwing more light on the three main drivers which are often neglected in discussions of what keeps human society so easily on the descensus Averno: overpopulation, overconsumption, and inequity, all promoted by a faith-based economic system. All elements of progressive civil society should put dealing with these central problems at the top of their agendas. I hope the MAHB can dedicate itself to helping them do it. The time for procrastination is long gone, and remember getting the money out of politics is the essential first step.

Thanks and Happy New Year to you all,
Paul

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Coordinating Committee


Paul Ehrlich: President, Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere; Bing Professor of Population Studies and President, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

Erik Assadourian: Senior Fellow, Worldwatch Institute; Director of Transforming Cultures Project and Co-Director of State of the World 2013 and 2012

Marilyn Hempel: Co-founder, Blue Planet United; Editor, Pop!ulation Press

Ilan Kelman: Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health, Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction and Institute for Global Health, University College London; Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Richard York: Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, Director of Graduate Studies for Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon

Joan Diamond, ex-officio, Secratariat: Chief Operating Officer, The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability

Advisory Board


Tom Burns: Professor Emeritus, Uppsala University, Sweden; Woods Institute, Stanford University

Tom Dietz: Professor Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy and Animal Studies; Assistant VP for Environmental Research at Michigan State University

Anne Ehrlich: Policy Coordinator, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

Bob Horn: Visiting Scholar, H-STAR, Human Sciences and Technology Advanced Research Institute, Stanford University

Don Kennedy: Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences; President, emeritus, Stanford University; Senior Fellow, Woods Institute

Hal Mooney: Paul S. Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology and FSI Senior Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

Kirk Smith: Professor of Global Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

Secretariat
Joan Diamond, Executive Director | Erika Gavenus, Communications Officer
Acknowledgements
Peter and Helen Bing | Larry Condon | Wren Wirth | The Mertz Gilmore Foundation | The Winslow Foundation
Copyright © 2016 Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere, All rights reserved.