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Leaders Respond to Ticking Clock

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Photos by Charly SHELTON Gov. Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were among several U.S. mayors and governors as well as many local and national leaders from China who attended a climate change summit held this week.

Photos by Charly SHELTON
Gov. Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were among several U.S. mayors and governors as well as many local and national leaders from China who attended a climate change summit held this week.

By Charly SHELTON

The Doomsday Clock is at three minutes to midnight.

The Atomic Scientists keep what is called the Doomsday Clock, which has a hand moving closer to or further from midnight depending on the threats the world faces.

“And why has it gotten so close?” asked Gov. Jerry Brown. “First of all there is the nuclear proliferation, there’s build up by our nations’ powers and their nuclear arsenals. But for the first time, this year, the people who run this Doomsday Clock have added climate change [to the calculation]. Climate change is now occupying a similar status to what the threat of nuclear annihilation was. It’s not something that can happen in a moment or a flash, but it gradually builds up over the years and decades and centuries.”

The governor’s comments were part of an address given at a climate summit.

With the world apparently sitting on the brink of disaster, two nations came together when an agreement was made this week in Los Angeles. The U.S.-China Climate Leaders Declaration was signed by Gov. Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, their signatures joining those of U.S. mayors and governors as well as many local and national leaders from China. The declaration states that these leaders commit themselves and their governed areas to uphold a higher standard of green initiatives than even the national standards of their countries. L.A. is at the forefront of this, committed to a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025, 60% reduction by 2030 and an 80% emission reduction by 2050, while the national standard asks only for a 23.1% reduction by 2030. In addition, L.A. has just confirmed that it will be purchasing electric vehicles for city workers, making it the largest city-owned electric vehicle fleet in the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown took the podium to address attendees of the summit.

Gov. Jerry Brown took the podium to address attendees of the summit.

“Those residents who call our cities, our states, our provinces home, let us deliver for them and let us say, ‘I was there in 2015 in Los Angeles when it all began,’” said Mayor Garcetti in his address at the summit. “Our people are counting on our actions, they are relying on our leadership, they are waiting for us to be bold, they are waiting for us to be courageous. And I know that today that work has already begun.”

China and America are the two largest producers of greenhouse gases worldwide, contributing 40% of the world’s total emissions, and now the two nations have steeled their resolve to do something about it. The declaration and summit were, Garcetti said, a way to open up the dialogue between nations and between cities. Many of the mayors who attended the summit echoed this opinion, and encouraged each other to borrow, copy and steal ideas from one another to take back and put to use in their own cities.

“We believe that this summit [and the] climate that it established [between] the governments of the two states will spearhead a new work in terms of our actions in the climate effort. [China itself] will also make a great contribution in the climate effort,” said Li Shixiang, executive vice mayor of Beijing.

The Chinese representatives who spoke had much the same sentiment as the U.S. mayors and governors in that this is an issue that warrants attention but, Shixiang said, America has more low carbon technology and more experience living greener. While much of China is still in an “industrial development stage,” he said, the technology is worthy of further study and implementation in their cities and provinces.

“For us, it is not the Far East, it is the Near West,” said Garcetti. “We’ve exchanged ideas and innovations with China for decades, ever since the first Chinese arrived here in the 19th century to help us build this state’s and this nation’s infrastructure. We have open arms, welcoming shores and, on most days, beautiful weather [that] combined with unmatched creativity makes this a fitting place for us to gather.”

As the innovations and cooperation between governments roll on, there is still a part for individuals to play. Conservation and the choice to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle are fundamental on the lowest level of the consumer chain, and makes a difference. As the Doomsday Clock ticks ever closer to midnight and concerns grow, the Atomic Scientists’ advice from 1949, when the clock was at the same time, rings true still.

“We do not advise Americans that doomsday is near… But we think they have reason to be deeply alarmed and to be prepared for grave decisions.”

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