While it may be an unseasonably warm December, there's still Christmas hope in the air.
Nearly 200 nations have pledged to reduce carbon emissions this weekend at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 21, as it's afectionately known (the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties).
It's an historic gesture from world leaders in taking responsibility for our long-held reliance on fossil fuels, and a milestone declaration in the shift towards clean energy... But what does that really mean?
It's all about accountability, Hip Hop Caucus president and CEO Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., told BET.com via statement. "The main objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, and to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts," he said. "... The problem is only going to get worse unless we come together."
For example he reminds, "Carbon pollution (which comes from oil, coal, and gas) is disproportionately dumped in communities of color and poor communities. This leads to high rates of asthma, cancer, heart disease and attacks, and other respiratory illnesses. We are dying because of this pollution."
And it's not only medical bills on the bottom line. Clearly, the cost of energy is a pivotal point. "Extreme weather caused by climate change results in extreme heat waves, like we have seen in Chicago, and extreme droughts like we are seeing all of the world, and increased hurricanes and storms, like Hurricane Katrina and super-storm Sandy," he said, further pointing out that, "... increased heating and cooling costs for homes puts extreme stress on poor families."
Really good thing then, that the pact was signed Saturday.
As for what should be done on an individual level, he said:
1. Make your home and household energy efficient.
We all unthinkingly leave lights on when we are not in the room; or switch off the TV by the remote instead of at the wall; fire up the heater, when we could put on an extra layer of clothing; or turn on the air conditioner, when we could open the window and turn on a fan.
2. Walk, cycle or take public transport.
Cars are not only a slow way to get to work when you’re faced with a city gridlock, they are also a huge user of oil (which is running out globally) and cost the tax payer hefty amounts in road building and maintenance. Getting people from A to B using trains, buses, bikes and on foot is much more greenhouse friendly, and often considerably cheaper.
3. Telecommute and teleconference.
Telecommuting can be an effective way of doing "paperwork" in your home office and more and more employers are seeing the benefits of this and embracing the concept.
4. Use your culture, and make climate change your issue.
This is your issue. No matter who you vote for, who you pray to, what cuisine your nation is proud of, or who you sleep with, it does not matter. There is only one Earth, there is no "Planet B." Use culture and music to create change. Music is a great way to educate and reach people and culture will get more people to join the global movement to solve climate change.
Visit HipHopCaucus.org to learn more about how to #ActOnClimate.
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Rewind! Watch: News: President's Weekly Address: Confronting Climate Change in the video below.
(Photo by John Ricard/BET/Getty Images)