Monday, October 15, 2012

Power of We- A Journey from Self to Us!


October 15 is a special day to me- it’s my birthday today, it’s the day I started training youth on climate change at national level and most importantly, it’s the Blog Action Day!

So, again like two years before on same day, I thought myself to become the part of Blog Action Day and start my birthday with my story of Power of We- A Journey from Self to Us!

The time I was a little school going child, living with my family in a remote town of northern parts of the KPK province, somewhere in my mind, thoughts continued to invoke myself, why changes in the natural beauty of my town are happening so rapidly. Our women continued to travel more and far to fetch water due to drying up springs and wells and our farmers always felt uncertainty over the sudden heavy rains and storms, enough to destroy their crops and their months’ long efforts in just a single day.

I could never connect the dots, until the time I, for the first time, went to Melbourne and learnt from Honorable Al Gore why we are becoming vulnerable to extreme weathers despite our negligible share in global carbon emission. I was then able to understand how our changing weathers in Pakistan, drying up springs and destruction of crops are linked with the phenomena of climate change.

I couldn't  however came out of the fear what can I do, being alone, to solve such a big problem. Can I do something? Can I do anything in a situation where people in Pakistan are least concerned or known to the facts of climate change but buried in the challenges of poverty, insecurity and lack of access to quality health and education for their children?

And the best solution I could found was to change myself from Self to Us and there I find the Power of We! I remember the time, I talked to my 9 colleagues about climate change after I returned from Australia and got trained by Honorable Al Gore. My first presentation was a mix of fear and excitement. I thought people can react on me, think it as not our problem or considering it an attempt to intervene in what people in our conservative society usually think as rule of nature.

However, what I realized and observed from my first presentation to my 9 colleagues was their excitement of learning from the facts how human induced activities are altering the normal weather into extremes and how important it is to stop global warming. 

And then I started talking to more colleagues and communities with more confidence about the human hands behind the adverse change in our climate, rather than the nature itself. My strong points in convincing conservative communities was always to link climate change phenomena with our Islamic teaching where people are instructed not to destroy crops and trees, nor to harm innocent people even in the state of war. If we cut a tree, we simply commit a sin by making our soil vulnerable to landslide and putting our people lives at risk. And same goes to people in richer parts of the world, who with their excessive emission of carbon put the people lives at risk by altering our climate.

Having more support from friends, I could start my community education campaign on climate change at national level. We took our start from the very first national level training for youth and civil society organizations on 15th October 2009. Since then, we together with our friends and volunteers, could spread the word in many parts of the country by helping them understand science of climate change, understand our vulnerabilities and opportunities and gather support in taking community level initiatives to fight climate change.  

It was the time when three years back I, myself could take the first step with lots of fears in my mind and talking to only 9 people. And then the time came when WE could raise our voice and reached to almost 8.6 million people around the world to show them the reality of climate crisis and challenges to Pakistan and our planet due to climate change.

Today as we celebrate Blog Action Day, my personal feelings and belief go stronger on the Power of We, where often challenges being tackled alone become impossible, however working together can make such impossible challenges easy to overcome.

Asif 

A Climate Campaigner from Pakistan


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Join 24 Hours of Reality this November 14-15, 2012- Live and online broadcast


Dear friends, 

This November 14-15, 2012 Climate Reality project, under the leadership of Honorable Al Gore, will be organizing a live and online broadcast on "Dirty Weather" due to climate change and ignite a global discussion how it is impacting lives of millions around the world.

You can also join this live and online broadcast by number of ways. We will inform you more details about the event as we move closer to the event. Right now, what you can do is to contribute by highlighting climate crisis in Pakistan and its impacts on our people. You can contribute in the following ways;

Short videos/footage: If you have a short video/documentary on flooding in Pakistan, drought or other such footage related to climate change in Pakistan then email it to videos@climatereality.com 

T-Shirt design submission: You can also create a T-shirt design to show what dirty weather means to all of us. Climate Reality partners at Threadless are accepting submissions for the T-shirt designs until October 11. And yes, there will be prizes for the chosen designer. Climate Reality will use the winning T-shirt to spread the word. Go to this website and submit the designhttp://atrium.threadless.com/dirtyweather/

You can join our facebook group to keep yourself updated about the event; http://www.facebook.com/groups/climateprojectconnectors/ 

Be with us in representing Pakistan during the 24 Hours of Reality! 

And more importantly- spread the word, share this message among your friends, using your network and social media channels. 

Thematic forum in Human Resource Development Network on climate change




Friday, October 5, 2012

When Different Cultures Unite on Climate Crisis...


Despite all these realities, world politics continue to fight over authenticity of science over climate crisis. When all the major science academies acknowledge consensus over anthropogenic climate crisis, we still see our world leadership divided to solve the climate crisis.
Where the world leadership fails or show little interest to accept science or take action, we, on the other hand, witness a number of good initiatives to advocate on climate crisis. Whether it is a personality like Mr. Al Gore, who keeps transforming the lives of thousands to accept reality and ignite global movement to solve crisis climate or it is a country like Maldives who voluntarily commit to go 100 percent carbon neutral, despite their negligible share in global climate pollution.
However, what is most exciting is the spirit of thousands of individuals who volunteers their lives to educate others and empower them to take action in different ways and capacity. "Make Your Own Climate Volunteers" is one of the initiatives by the Climate Project Connectors campaign in Pakistan, which links climate volunteers from different cultures and backgrounds and motivate volunteerism to fight climate crisis.
Individuals in this campaign are encouraged to form their own volunteers group and start climate actions at personal, community, schools, or broader level. Anusha Sherazi and Dave Finnigan are the two examples of people who, although they belong to the two different cultures of Pakistan and the U.S., come to volunteerism in climate action; they have no difference in thoughts and ambition for a common cause.
Anusha grew up in Sahiwal, a small agricultural city of Pakistan. Due to her father's service in the armed forces for three decades in different parts of the country, Anusha moved city to city along with her family. She lived over the hills of Murree, Kashmir, Kohat, the deserts of Bahawalpur; the coasts of Karachi and Hyderabad; the grassy terrains of Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Sialkot; and the plains of Jhelum and Lahore.
Anusha says:
"Coming from a family culture where people enjoy lavish cuisines, extravaganza of cladding styles, hues of festivity and a profound essence of customs and orthodoxy; invokes the first impression that the land should be full of industries, textile mills, restaurants and vehicles, no matter how much greenhouse gases it releases. However, travelling everywhere and witnessing the dramatic changes in the climate of Pakistan rather turned me to become a climate volunteer which makes me avoid a luxurious life style."
With her academic background of environmental science, Anusha could bring contrast in her life where she usually volunteers herself with various environmental organizations. Anusha, after joining the initiative "Make Your Own Climate Volunteers," started her online campaign to educate youth on climate crisis and seeking opportunities for actions. She says:
"We are in the age where generations prefer to spend five to six hours every day with computers, playing games, making friends on Facebook, sending tweets and exploring the world through YouTube. That's why brining attention of youth toward climate change and environment, using the social media would work differently. Now every day I get feedbacks from schools, young researchers, fresh graduates, students and different experts on climate change and thinking of productive ways for climate action."
Anusha loves reading, music and climate campaigning. Currently she lives in Canada to upgrade her knowledge and experience on environmental sciences and plans to bring back rich experience to her country in this field.
Now let's talk about Dave Finnigan, who was born in Annapolis, Md., just before World War II. His dad was in the U.S. Navy, so his family lived with his grandparents in Bethlehem, Penn. After the war, Dave's family lived in Guam, Sasebo Japan, Ottawa, Canada, and in Navy towns all over the U.S. Dave also served in the Army for five years and was stationed in Germany and South Korea; he stayed in Asia for 10 years working in national family planning programs for the governments of Korea, Taiwan and Philippines. Dave also served in U.N. agencies in Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal and Turkey.
The world exposure also attracted Dave toward a responsible life with a sense of environmental protection. Dave visited more than 2,000 elementary schools in 41 states and 12 countries with his instructional program, Juggling for Success. Since 2007, when he went through Mr. Al Gore's "The Climate Project" training, Dave refined his new program, Climate Change is Elementary, in 17 schools in five states.
Dave says:
"Our one-day program gives students, teachers and parents glimpses of the Climate Change problem. We stress actions that families and schools can undertake to go green, regardless of parental beliefs about anthropogenic global warming."
After joining "Make your Own Climate Volunteers," Dave and his team changed their program name to "Youth to the Rescue." This is because they realized that whether parents believe in global warming or not, almost everyone agrees there is benefit to going green.
Dave plans to design a website where kids can report family actions, and where suppliers can offer discounts to families and rebates to schools for green purchases, together with a carbon calculator into the site. Dave juggles, swing dance and love to spend his time with family.
This blog was originally published on the Huffpost.