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13.01.2021 – Seoul, Korea – Bereket Alemayehu

North-South Korean Art Diplomacy For Peace  and Non-violence 
“Peace, the wind blows” a special art exhibition featuring North and South Korean artists. Photo by Bereket Alemayehu

Here we go! La la la… we are at the historical moment of our time on the planet.

It is an interesting time, soon…  January 22nd, 2021 heralds a new day as a turning point for world peace that will be happening as the treaty that bans nuclear weapons comes into force.  Personally, I am just a few days away to see history being made, thanks to the hard and arduous campaigns made in persuading countries and high officials to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). At the same time, it is an exciting time as I am probably a few hours away from a nuclear bomb-making facility from where I live in Seoul, South Korea.

As an African born person who lived far from a highly advanced lifestyle and technology, the vibrations in the Korean peninsula are very different and so scary in that there are mass destruction weapons around. Both North and South Korean governments have not yet signed the nuclear ban treaty. To make it clear, I live in a relatively very small peninsula in the Far Eastern part of the world.  But, the Korean peninsula is very tense in terms of army confrontation since World war II and the cold war era. The military presence of the most powerful countries is so visible and the world is dealing with the most isolated and nuclear weapon-ambitious regime, North Korea.

On the other hand, living in the same peninsula is quite interesting. It is home to dynamic societies that share many common moral, social, cultural, and economic values and has the technologies that could reach millions of people instantly in order to call for peace and unity.

Last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic which served as a threat to normal social order, I was part of the 2nd World March for Peace and Non-violence. We met the international base team members from South America and Europe who reached Seoul in January 2020. A public forum on the dangers of a nuclear war was held in collaboration with the Korean Organization Committee for UN International Day of Peace (KOCUN-IDP). A webinar on Peace & Reunification and a group tour to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was conducted with People for Successful COrean Reunification (PSCORE).

As always, art diplomacy has been part of the long-lasting peace efforts among the two-nation artists in the Korean peninsula. The recent one was entitled “Peace, the wind blows” a special art exhibition held in collaboration with artists from the North and South. It was hosted by the Odusan Unification Tower, at the mountain top where you can see the North Korean rural areas across the intersection of the Han and Imjin rivers. The organization that hosted the special exhibition hopes that “culture & art break the boundary, open the mind and deepen understanding of each other. This power will be a driving force of coexistence, overcoming and healing the pain of division, and recovering the homogeneity of South and North Korea. Moreover, it can and will be a bridge to connect South and North Korea who have lived differently for more than 70 years after the liberation… hoping that this exhibition is the beginning of a substantive exchange and communication between the artists in Seoul and Pyongyang as a regular exhibition.”

So, we are in the middle of so much excitement that very soon the world shall see fruitful efforts made with a big change at the United Nations. As an artist and social activist myself, I would like to see the world free of nuclear dangers and an end to the incessant arms race between the countries.  Let me finish the article by inserting a beautiful expression by the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy website on the power of art:

Since everyone can partake in creating and enjoying art, it is a powerful tool that can be used to raise awareness and understanding of issues, promote dialogue, and establish bonds between individuals of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The shared experience of creating and experiencing art is one that can establish sincere human relationships; relationships that cannot be broken by the words or actions of others.”http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/academy/index.php?en_acd_about

For more about the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN):

https://www.icanw.org/

Photos: Bereket Alemayehu 

A few days ago, a post on a Quaker Facebook group asked what the Quaker position was on dealing with insurrection. An excellent and, er, disturbingly timely question. To which, of course, there is not a single Quaker answer. To my mind, the best way to approach it is to look at live examples in…

Insurrection, Civil War & Quaker Dilemmas — A Friendly Letter

13.01.2021 – Los Angeles, USA – Robert Hunziker

An Exhausted Planet Limps Into 2021
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Early this new year, the Alliance of World Scientists (13,700 strong) delivered a biting report, not mincing words: “Scientists now find that catastrophic climate change could render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable consequent to continued high emissions, self-reinforcing climate feedback loops and looming tipping points.” (Source: William J. Ripple, et al, The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review, Scientific American, January 6, 2021)

The mission: “We scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat.” (Source: https://scientistswarning.forestry.oregonstate.edu/)

Even though it is very difficult to accept a cartoonish statement that “We Are Destroying Earth,” get accustomed to it because it’s happening but not right before our eyes or under our collective noses. To better understand the carnage, study the science and discover collapsing ecosystems within a chaotically threatened climate system, especially where nobody lives. That’s where it starts and most prominently stands out in full living color for all to see in the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Australia, Siberia, the world’s rainforests, and within the vast expanse of the oceans. Almost nobody lives in those ecosystems. What’s next?

Nascent efforts to stem the impact of a bruised climate system are underway. Increasingly, all across the land, a serious climate emergency is being recognized for what it is. In fact, over the past two years, 10% of the world’s population has declared a climate emergency:

(1) 1,859 jurisdictions in 33 countries have issued climate emergency declarations on behalf of 820 million people. Nearly one billion people “Get it”

(2) 60 million citizens of the UK, or 90% of the UK population, now live in areas where local authorities have declared a climate emergency (Hello XR).

(3) Australia, UK’s stepchild – Over one-third of the population has declared a climate emergency.

(4) The Argentina Senate, representing 45 million people, declared a climate emergency on July 17, 2019.

(5) Canadian assemblies representing nearly 100% of the population declared a climate emergency in 2019-20.

(6) In Italy, nearly 40% of the population via assemblies declared a climate emergency in 2019-2020.

(7) Spain 100%.

(8) The United States 10%, meantime, under Trump’s ironclad directive, the remaining 90% vigorously rejects any consideration whatsoever of climate change.

In sharp contrast to the posturing of the United States pre-January 20th, the Alliance of World Scientists is not pulling any punches about the challenge ahead: “The climate emergency has arrived and is accelerating more rapidly than most scientists anticipated, and many of them are deeply concerned. The adverse effects of climate change are much more severe than expected, and now threaten both the biosphere and humanity.” (Scientific American)

Those are heavy words: “…threatening both the biosphere & humanity….” Meaning- “Scientists now find that catastrophic climate change could render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable,” Ibid.

“Global warming has already made parts of the world hotter than the human body can withstand decades earlier than climate models expected. Measurements at Jacobabad in Pakistan and Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates have both repeatedly spent at least 1 or 2 hours over a deadly threshold.” (Source: Climate Change Has Already Made Parts of the World Too Hot for Humans, NewScientist May 8, 2020)

As it happens, excessive heat combined with excessive humidity leads to death within 6 hours. Early signs of this are already appearing decades ahead of expectations. After all, the human body has limits. If the temperature/humidity index is extreme enough, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. It’s the Wet-Bulb Temperature WBT. Generally speaking, a threshold is reached when air temperature climbs above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) combined with humidity above 90 percent.

According to scientists, in order to stem the onset of Web-Bulb Temperature peril, CO2 emissions must be sharply reduced, quickly, especially in consideration of the disquieting fact that all five of the hottest years on record have occurred since 2015.

A recent study found extreme humid/heat combinations occurring well beyond prolonged human physiological tolerance for 1-to-2 hours duration concentrated in South Asia, the coastal Middle East, and the coastal south of North America. (Source: Colin Raymond, et al, The Emergence of Heat and Humidity Too Severe for Human Tolerance, Science Advances, Vol. 6, no. 19, May 8, 2020)

Meantime, the main culprit, or CO2, the key driver of global heat recently reached an all-time record high for the Holocene Epoch, which represents 11,700 years of stable climate behavior, the Great Goldilocks Sleep Walk Thru Time Era. That is until excessive levels of CO2 started cranking up global warming, post-1750.

The Alliance of World Scientists’ article declares 2020 as one of the hottest years on record, and it prompted massive extraordinary wildfire activity all across the planet, Siberia, the Western U.S., the Amazon, and Australia. These unprecedented disruptions are indicative of a malfunctioning climate system. Clearly, the planet is sick.

According to the Alliance: “Every effort must be made to reduce emissions and increase removals of atmospheric carbon,” Ibid.

Along the way, several countries have committed to zero net carbon emissions by 2050-60; however, there is mounting evidence that those goals are inadequate, rather, new evidence suggests net zero carbon must be achieved by 2030, not 20-30 years later. That’s far too late.

In order to achieve something beyond a mere semblance of climate system balance (if that is even possible) it will be necessary to adhere to the goals of The Bonn Challenge Global Restoration Initiative of 2011 restoring 350 million hectares of forests and lands by 2030. Seventy-four countries have endorsed this nature-based solution.

The Alliance of World Scientists offers solutions to the dilemma:

  • Get off fossil fuels, a top priority.
  • Stop industrial emissions like methane, black carbon (soot) and similar emissions in order to dramatically reduce the rate of warming.
  • Restore natural ecosystems, especially farming, and of special note: “The logging of the Amazon, tropical forests in SE Asia, and other rainforests, including the proposed cutting in the Tongas National Forest of Alaska is especially devastating for the climate,” ibid.
  • Reduce beef and meat products to help reduce methane emissions. Plants are edible and healthier.
  • Transition to a carbon-free economy that reflects our dependence upon the health of the biosphere affectionately referred to as Mother Earth. Adopt eco economics as a healthy replacement for the neoliberal brand of forever-growth capitalism, cruising along on a golden paved road to a never-never land of fantasy and ecstasy.
  • Today’s human population growth rate of 200,000 per day newborns needs to stabilize and decline via support for and education of young women throughout the world.

Accordingly, the Alliance proclaims: “In December 2020, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleaded for every nation to declare a ‘climate emergency.’ Thus, we call for the U.S. government to proclaim a climate emergency with either Joe Biden declaring a national climate emergency through an executive order or Congress passing major climate mitigation funding and a declaration of a climate emergency (H.Con.Res.52S.Con.Res.22) that has been buried in a Congressional committee throughout 2020. One year ago, we were troubled about poor progress on mitigating climate change. We are now alarmed by the failure of sufficient progress during 2020.” (Source: Scientific American)

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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