Nature & Human World News

Noteworthy N.E.W.S. (NorthEastWestSouth)

World Car Free Day, Sept. 22. Our friend from India, Mr. T. Vijayendra, age 77, has been a ‘dedicated’ cyclist all his life, meaning, he neither took a driving license nor did he ever drive a fossil fuel based vehicle. He recently wrote an article about sustainable transportation for CounterCurrents.org:

“Today, September 22 is the World Car Free Day. It is celebrated in many cities around the world to create awareness about how our locality will look and feel like without cars. It started on an ad hoc basis after the 1973 oil crisis. Only in 2000 it became a self-standing day held on September 22. On this day a large number of cities around the world are invited to close their city centers to cars. Pedestrians, bicycles, public transit and other forms of sustainable transportation are encouraged on this day. People can reflect on what their city would look like with a lot fewer cars, and what might be needed to make this happen. Advocates claim that over 100 million people in 1,500 cities celebrate International Car-Free Day, though on days and in ways of their choice.”

You can read his complete article at: https://countercurrents.org/2021/09/world-car-free-day/

Thank you, Mr. T. Vijayendra, for your dedication and commitment to the sustainability issues of the day!

We wish you a very happy Autumn Equinox and National Hispanic American Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct.15)!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) served as an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court for 27 years. She was appointed by President Clinton and became the second woman to serve in this important judicial capacity after Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice Ginsburg was a well-known champion of gender equality and women’s rights. She died on September 18th, 2020, at the age of 87, after her battle with pancreatic cancer. You might like to watch RBG (2018), a documentary about her life to learn more about her.

Portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg by artist Alix Mosieur of Loraine, Oregon.

NEW! Welcome to a new school year! The 2021 Skipping Stones Awards issue featuring 2021 Book Awards, Youth Honor Awards and the Asian Celebration Haiku Contest has been released on Sept. 1st, just in time for the new school year. You can read it here. We will also be uploading a few Noteworthy entries (that we wanted to include in the new issue, but couldn’t do so for a lack of space) in the Contents Section later this month. Visit the website as often as you can.

NEW. The 2021 Skipping Stones Book Awards have been announced. You can download the 2021 Skipping Stones Honors List here. Our hearty congratulations to all the authors, illustrators and producers of these wonderful multicultural, international and nature awareness books. You can download the reviews of all the 2021 Skipping Stones Book Award Winners here. Thank you.

• June 21. Happy Summer! In the northern hemisphere, the days are the longest this time of the year. In the southern hemisphere, it is winter time, and the nights are the longest.

A Patch of Lettuce and Chives in Paul and Pam’s Backyard Garden in Eugene. Photo by Arun Toké.

May 26, The Netherlands: Climate activists everywhere are celebrating a Dutch District court’s verdict in The Hague, Netherlands, on Wednesday that ordered fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions 45% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels. This is a historic ruling that activists hope will become just the beginning of holding the oil and gas industry accountable for driving the global climate emergency. The oil company expects to appeal the decision as expected. (Source: CommonDreams.org)

An Uprooted Tree in Dixie National Forest, outside of Bryce Canyon NP, Utah. Photo by Arun N. Toké.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! The Oregon Asian Celebration which had been planned as an outdoor Friday evening event for this month has been postponed until end of July due to the current high case load of Covid-19 in Oregon. While our Haiku Exhibit will be held as planned as a Window Front Exhibit at the Eugene Public Library for the month of May, we are also planning to have the exhibit during the Asian Celebration in July. Skipping Stones will publish select haiku and tanka poem entries in our next issue (to be published in September). The issue will also feature the annual Youth Honor Awards and the 2021 Book Awards.

• April 22. Happy Earth Day 2021. We have much to do if we want to change the ecologically destructive course that human society is on. Climate Crisis is here and we must act NOW to avoid this impending emergency. Read our editor’s Earth Day message here.

• April 15. A coalition of 36 organizations and 64 experts in child development and the impact of technology have appealed to Facebook with their concerns and asking that the ongoing development of an Instagram specifically designed for children ages 12 and younger be scrapped. The letter was written by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). Facebook and Instagram are officially restricted to users ages 13 and older, due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, COPPA. Although Instagram requires users to be at least 13, many younger children have lied about their age to set up accounts. (Source: commondreams.org)

• To help address the global economic inequality, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed support for a wealth tax on the world’s wealthy elites whose fortunes have soared during the coronavirus pandemic. He delivered his remarks at the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development. The coronavirus pandemic has already claimed the lives of more than 3 million people and it is far from over according to Mr. Guterres. He cited the “global vaccine gap,” and said there was a dollar figure on that inequity. He said the cost might be more than U.S. $9 trillion. “To end the pandemic for good,” said Guterres, “we need equitable access to vaccines for everyone, everywhere. (Source: commondreams.org)

The month of April is celebrated as the National Poetry Month. Launched by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month reminds the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world that observes poetry’s important place in our lives. Skipping Stones publishes poetry by youth around the world. This week, we plan to publish two poems by Mohammed Faisal, a 19-year-old Rohingya poem living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Read some of the recently published poems on our website.

April 6, 2021: We must Act! For the first time in recorded history, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) surged past 420 parts per million (PPM) this past weekend, according to a measurement taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii. When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research station began collecting CO2 data in the late 1950s, the CO2 concentration was around 315 PPM. On Saturday, the daily average was 421.21 PPM. World leaders MUST take a note of this RED FLAG! (Source: commondreams.org)

• Replacing fossil fuel-based heating and cooking systems with electric technologies in our residential and commercial buildings in the country over the next 30 years would lead to a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions—equivalent to removing 65 million cars from the road, according to a new study published by Environment America Research & Policy Center, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, and Frontier Group. The report—entitled Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment—documents how cutting fossil fuel usage out of homes and offices through electrification would decrease the carbon emissions driving the climate emergency, lower utility bills, and improve public health. (Source: commondreams.org)

• For years, plastic caught by fishermen on the Kollam coast in India’s southern state of Kerala was thrown back into the water, damaging aquatic ecosystems and killing fish. But fishermen are now helping clean up the ocean—along with their daily hauls of fish, they pull in and collect the waste that gets enmeshed in their nets. Bottles, ropes, toys, shoes, discarded fishing nets and plastic bags are sorted, washed, shredded, before being recycled into material added to asphalt to help to build local roads. In 2017, the Kerala state government launched its Suchitwa Sagaram (Clean Sea) initiative, providing nylon bags to the 1,000 or so fishing boats to collect the plastic rubbish. The plastic is processed onshore and fed into a shredding machine, then sold on to road-builders. Nearly 3,000 fishermen and boat owners in Kollam are participating in this GREEN initiative. (Source: HPI, Hindu Press International).

April 1, 2021: Youth climate leader Greta Thunberg expressed frustration with inadequate climate response by world governments, given the urgency of the climate crisis. Commondreams.org, a nonprofit news website, reported that in an interview published on 31 March, Greta told the Financial Times , “We need to stop focusing on dates and numbers and actually accept and acknowledge the fact that we need to reduce our emissions right now,” and “We can talk about 2030 or 2040 as much as we want. But it is what we are doing (right) now that really matters.” (Source: commondreams.org)

Spring Equinox Greetings!

Spring is gardening time! Gardening improves our lives, our communities, and our planet. Here is a great resource for educators and students interested in gardening: Kidsgardening.org. Based in Burlington, Vermont, they support a community of educators and caregivers to bring the life-changing benefits of gardening to kids through grant programs, curriculum, and educational activities. KidsGardening is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

March: Women’s History Month; March 8th: International Women’s Day

A few portraits of women sent by our artist friend Jon Bush of Massachusetts.

Noteworthy N.E.W.S. (NorthEastWestSouth)

March 22. Thousands of Experts Urge World Leaders to Put Marine Ecosystems at the Heart of Climate Policy. A healthy ocean, teeming with life, is vital to tackle global heating. The oceans are under threat like never before. Written by the Environmental Justice Foundation, and endorsed by more than 3,000 scientists, politicians, and other public figures, the open letter urges national governments to recognize the critical importance of our oceans in our fight against the climate emergency. It is now open to public signature and will be presented to governments before November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. —CommonDreams.org

• March 19. Fridays for Future youth climate strikers returned to streets around the world to demand urgent, ambitious action on the global climate emergency. “The first step must be to start treating it like a crisis and to just take in the full picture, to see this in a holistic point of view,” Greta Thunberg, age 18, who began the youth movement, said. “Science says that we can still avoid the worst consequences. So it’s possible, but it’s not possible if we continue like today.” —CommonDreams.org

March 17. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), during the last six months, over 12 million people were displaced internally, and over 80% of these forced displacements were due to disasters, mostly caused by climate and weather extremes. Asia had more climate related refugees than any other region in the world. —CommonDreams.org

• March 12. Now that the United States has joined the Paris Agreement, the government is preparing to unveil a new domestic emissions reduction target. The U.S. is expected to announce its Paris Agreement pledge for 2030 prior to a climate leaders’ summit which will be held at the White House on Earth Day 2021 (April 22). To meet its long-term target of net-zero emissions by 2050, the United States must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 60% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Climate Action Tracker (CAT) found that in order for the U.S. to do its fair share to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C by the end of the century, the country must reduce at least 57% to 63% of its emissions by the end of the decade and provide financial support to developing nations striving to transition away from climate-destroying fossil fuels.

The tropical forests, including the Amazon Rainforest, could soon stop serving as our carbon sinks. A new study that takes into account other greenhouse gases (as the Carbon dioxide is not a lone actor) suggests the world’s largest rainforest may already be contributing to the warming of the planet. The outlook from the Amazon is that the impacts of human activities will be worse than we realize. —CommonDreams.org

• March 12. A report from leading economists including Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Michael Spence (released by the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Commission on Global Economic Transformation) rebukes the “ugliness of vaccine hoarding” by some wealthy nations and calls for a suspension of pharmaceutical companies’ patent rights to counter the unequal access to vaccine doses and thus help end the coronavirus pandemic. The authors point to the glaring deficiencies in our global debt regime and frame their proposals as immediate measures that would foster robust recovery. There have been “unseemly and unfair vaccine grabs by the governments of some of the advanced countries,” the report says. —CommonDreams.org

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, says that although Black History Month has ended, Black History should be celebrated all year long. NAACP works all year long to improve their life, and to empower the community to harness their full potential.

February was celebrated as the Black History Month in the nation, but we needn’t stop! Let’s continue learning our multicultural history.

We invite you to explore a few thought-provoking writings, poems, plays, art, and/or movies by African American authors, artists and/or directors. Need ideas? Start with some famous authors like Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovani, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, or others. You can ask your school teacher/librarian, your parents, or a reference librarian at your public library for book recommendations.** The poem Hill We Climb (see below) is also a great start. Several issues of Skipping Stones* have poems and writings by African American authors, both aspiring and established. There are also some excellent educational and entertaining films pertaining to this subject. Ask your librarian about a few recommendations.

• The current issue of Skipping Stones features an essay: Muted: Fifth Grade Conversations About Slavery by Iris Haq Lukoyo, a ten-year-old African American girl. Julianne McShane, a freelance journalist working with the Lily, the gender-focused publication of the Washington Post, saw it online and wrote a thought-provoking article featuring Iris’s experiences that enabled her to write the essay. We highly recommend this wonderful article by Julianne in The Lily. Click on the link below to read it! https://www.thelily.com/shes-the-only-black-kid-in-her-fifth-grade-class-she-spoke-up-when-slavery-wasnt-included-in-a-lesson-plan/

** Here is one such book on this topic Have I ever told you: Black Lives Matter by Shani Mahiri King (Tilbury House Publishers, Tilburyhouse.com). This book affirms the message repeatedly and tenderly throughout its 80 pages. It honors many Black role models and celebrates their achievements in all walks of life… arts, literature, music, sports, theater, science and more. Short biographies of 116 featured role models follow the short, bold main text of the book. A great read for all ages!

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center for the last three decades, has a new name now: Learning for Justice! Please visit them at www.learningforjustice.org

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman, California:

Washington, DC. Jan. 21, 2021: Amanda Gorman, the 2017 National Youth Poet Laureate from California, was invited to recite her poem, The Hill We Climb, during the January 20th inauguration ceremony of Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States, in Washington, DC. Amanda has received high praise for her presentation. As a multicultural magazine for today’s youth, Skipping Stones is pleased to share the profound words she shared in front of a national audience of millions of people. Amanda’s dream is to become the President of United States in January 2037. Click on the link below to read the poem.  https://www.skippingstones.org/wp/2021/01/22/the-hill-we-climb/

You can also watch Amanda’s January 20th presentation on Youtube.