Master's article for
Taken by H. K., in Kuppenheim, Germany.
RIGHT: Photograph taken on Saturday 17 October 2009 at 8.30pm in a south-easterly direction looking 40 degrees up in the sky in Amsterdam, by C.Q., from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He reports: “Strangely enough it looked much ‘closer’ than other stars.”
The ‘star’ seen on YouTube videos
Hundreds of videos of the ‘star’ can now be seen on the YouTube website, and people are wondering what this unusual star-like object is, with its unique behaviour: changing colour, rotating, pulsating, expanding and retracting, staying still for hours or moving rapidly. Many people are discussing this worldwide phenomenon and its significance.
We include a small selection of footage where the camera’s zoom capacity is sufficient to reveal a more close-up image of the ‘star’.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, 19 September 2009
“I filmed what looked to be a weird colored weather balloon. It glowed and was at times translucent. It stayed very still for two hours before being blocked from our view by clouds.” (YouTube: kaufmanfan420)
Arizona, USA, 19 July 2009, 11.10pm:
Filmed by a honeymoon couple who report: “We went on our balcony, which overlooks the mountains, and saw a brilliant light in the sky, above the mountain. At first I thought it could be an airplane or helicopter but then realized it was too high for a helicopter. And that an airplane would not stay still for so long – there were also no red blinking lights that an airplane has when flying at night. There were few stars in the sky, due to some storm clouds and light pollution – it was the only light…
When we viewed the video enlarged, it appeared to be a gyro sphere shape made of mostly energy. You will see a rotating ball of light in the center of the screen. We left the camera on a tripod so it stayed stationary. As you will see it just hovers in the sky.” (YouTube: carolnoelstevenson)
San Isidro, Argentina, 29 September 2009, 11.23pm:
“More and more are showing up like never before. What is going on people? You do notice the plasma-like glow? How could this plane or kite or balloon or toy or UFO be all over the planet on film?” (YouTube: Vik456) Adds one commentator to the video: “I always see this type of glowing orb in the sky here in Belize, Central America. It’s weird. At first I thought it was a star, but it’s too close to be a star ... But there is something going on with all this.”
Erlanger, Kentucky, USA, 6 June 2009:Around 2.30am while on the way home “I noticed an oddly bright light in the north sky. It appeared about 3-5x bigger than the brightest star in the sky. Just a little more than enough to clearly define that it was not a star. When you looked close with a naked eye, it seemed to be strobing through different colors … In the zoomed video you can clearly see the strobing plasma lights and its overall, beauty … It’s really bright and weird auroras and strobes are visible, clearly … I knew it was a craft of some kind, beaming with light energy, or something!” (YouTube: tremontavenue)
Two skeptics see the 'star'
by Frances Oman
Soni is a district manager in California for a large national corporation. She has never been interested in phenomena like UFOs, or even wanted to read science fiction or watch a Star Wars film. “I am a level-headed kind of person,” Soni said. “Oddly enough, on 31 July 2009, my co-worker asked me whether I had ever seen a UFO. I answered, ‘No, but I wish I could see one.’” After saying that casually, she kept thinking about it, hoping to see a UFO if they really did exist.
That evening during a visit to her parents in Stockton, California, Soni saw what she believes may have been a UFO. Her father pointed out a mysterious light in the sky, unaware that Soni had just told someone that she wished she could see a UFO. …
She first saw the object in the sky at 8.45pm. They looked at
it through a telescope and saw that it changed shape and color.
…Still at her parents’ home the next day, she looked for the object around the same time as the previous night, and was surprised that it was there. It was glowing and changing shape and color. She kept watching it until 3am, wishing that she had her video camera with her.
The following morning Soni retrieved her video camera to take back to Stockton, hoping to video the object that night. The entire day she kept hoping to see it. It did reappear on 2 August and behaved in the same way as before, sometimes appearing as a cross, sometimes as a sphere, and changing colors. Soni watched it every night for nine days altogether. “It couldn’t have been a plane or satellite,” she said, “because it wasn’t moving fast enough. It couldn’t have been a star or planet because it was changing shape and color. I put the footage up on YouTube to see if anyone else knew what it might be.”
Since then many people have sent her web links to similar videos
taken throughout the world. One of those people suggested she go to hear Benjamin
Creme who was scheduled to speak in San Francisco the following weekend. Soni
had never heard of him but said: “I felt that there was a purpose behind me
seeing that object,” so she went and heard about how a “star-like luminary”
was a sign like the Star of Bethlehem. “I am not of a Christian upbringing,
but what Mr Creme said about the financial and political crisis and this ‘star’
all seemed quite rational to me. It seems to me that there is a purpose behind
my experience and I hope there is a wide discussion of all of this so the truth
of what it is can be verified for all.”
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the mysterious light in the sky was indeed the ‘star’.)
Ex-US Air Force officer sees “bright objects in the sky”
Tom has spent his life working in science and technology. He has degrees in science from the University of California at Berkeley, a Systems Analysis degree from the US Air Force’s Institute of Technology, and also spent time in the US Air Force. “From being in the Air Force I was familiar with the concept of UFOs and the fact that many pilots have seen these kinds of objects. I didn’t think UFOs were non-existent but I never had any personal experience with anything like that.”
After leaving the Air Force, Tom moved to Canada where he and his wife live on a hundred acres of land. One evening, when Tom and his wife were out of the house, their daughter saw something burning in the hay field. “Who the heck would be lighting a bonfire on our property?” she wondered. Then she realized that the fire was well above the ground. “She’s the kind of person that this kind of thing does not appeal to at all,” Tom said. It was literally a fireball. She was just barely beginning to absorb that this might be something unusual when the fireball suddenly disappeared and then reappeared about 30 degrees to the right of where it had just been.
“I’m certainly the kind of person who doesn’t jump to conclusions about anything without going through the scientific process and having good evidence,” Tom said. He looked on the internet and found a couple of websites that covered the history of crop circles in England going back to the 1970s. “In looking through all of that I realized that there was really something here. We don’t have the technical skills to produce things the size of several football fields in less than a few minutes or even during a single night. This, of course, threw my thinking back to the UFO business again.”
Tom wanted first-hand evidence, so in September 2008 he and his wife visited an area near the base of Mount Shasta in northern California with a group, hoping for a UFO sighting. The very first night everyone saw unusual phenomena in the sky.
The first inexplicable sight was what they called “flashbulbs.” Every now and then they saw random flashes go off in the clear night sky above the mountain. “I know aircraft, and they were nothing to do with aircraft. They were just isolated in space and would sometimes vary from yellow to red or green or white.” There would be nothing for about half-an-hour and then the group would see more “flashbulbs”.
Suddenly a very bright silvery object appeared out of nowhere in the sky and stood still. Out of that object came a large flash and “what was incredible about it was that the flash was square in shape,” Tom said. “It wasn’t circular at all. It was like a screen and we could all see just briefly that there was some sort of pattern on it. Then it was gone. That was pretty amazing and got everybody excited. As we stayed there, every night we would see similar objects of about that size. They might zip out briefly and then make a sudden turn and then disappear again. It was quite intriguing.”
One night near the end of their visit Tom and his wife were out with a large group in the same wooded area where they had seen these phenomena. At a certain point, through a gap in the trees, they saw a huge bright object in the southern sky. It looked about one-quarter the size of the moon, much larger than the stars around it, but there was no moon that night. The object was utterly motionless and so bright that it cast clear shadows of the trees. It was as bright as a large full moon.
A few months later Tom came across a Share International news release on the internet and read that there would be an appearance of a large bright ‘star’ that could be seen both day and night. “Just that description alone made me think of the object that we had seen, because it was so large and bright that it could easily have been seen during the day, even though I only witnessed it at night.”
Several months later, after midnight on 16 August 2009, near Sausalito California, Tom was with several people who were sure they were witnessing the ‘star’. Tom, true to his skeptical nature, thought the object in the sky was Jupiter, and went to bed. Later the same night, a woman who had also thought the object was Jupiter, saw it blink or pulse rhythmically for about 15 minutes while it remained motionless in the sky. Another person kept watching it through a telescope and saw it “blink out” at around 4am.
Talking about the news release announcing the ‘star-like luminary’, Tom said: “Benjamin Creme has an explanation of why it would be there now. This part is a little more challenging for a person like me who has to have cold hard facts in order to believe anything. He talked about it representing a sign that Christ was returning to the world. When I read that I immediately connected the star he was talking about with the Star of Bethlehem and the wise men, and the fact that the star literally moved to guide them to Bethlehem. I’ve known people who’ve speculated that that could possibly have been a UFO.
“So while this seems like a pretty way-out story, I’m also quite
familiar with what is going on in the world today. We’re facing unprecedented
crises everywhere. Prophecies of this kind of crisis are common to many of
the world’s religions. So in that respect I find it interesting that my reaction
to Mr Creme’s statement is much more positive than skeptical.”
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the light seen over Canada was a fiery sign put out by a spacecraft which itself remained invisible.
The lights over Mount Shasta were emitted by spacecraft while themselves remaining beyond the range of vision, and the silvery object which suddenly appeared was a spacecraft from Mars. The “huge bright object” seen later at Mount Shasta was a UFO, a small mothership from the planet Mars.
The object seen in the sky on 16 August 2009 near Sausalito, California, was the ‘star’.)
All photographs are taken from Soni’s video on YouTube
We present a selection of quotations on the theme of Unity from Maitreya (Messages from Maitreya the Christ, and Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life), Benjamin Creme’s Master (A Master Speaks), and Benjamin Creme’s writings.
Against all the odds, and in spite of all appearances to the contrary, mankind is about to emerge from its chrysalis of darkness, its impotence and fear. With growing boldness and assurance, the steps of men are set in the direction of unity and justice, co-operation and sharing, simplicity and trust. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The need for trust’)
My children, My friends, I have come more quickly, perhaps, than you expected. But there is much to do, much that needs changing in the world. Many hunger and die, many suffer needlessly. I come to change all that; to show you the way forward — into a simpler, saner, happier life — together. No longer man against man, nation against nation, but together, as brothers, shall we go forth into the New Country. (Maitreya, from Message No.1)
Everyone looks to identify with something larger than themselves. That sense of unity is essential because everyone is looking for it whether they know they are looking for it or not. Unity is the soul’s awareness of the unity of cosmos. Nothing less than that. And where you create unity in your work, in your group, in your nation, or in the group of nations, you benefit humanity. (Benjamin Creme, The Art of Co-operation)
Evolution is moving towards greater unity, fusion, blending, the creation of the one humanity – not the sameness of life but the unification of all diversity. The greatest unity with the greatest diversity is the evolutionary aim. Market forces work in the opposite direction, by creating more and more divisions. Maitreya calls market forces “the forces of evil”, because of their in-built inequality. They have created division in the world which has now reached crisis proportions. He can no longer stand aside and watch what He calls “the massacre of the innocents”. So He has come into the world with the knowledge that there is a large body of people who are longing, and able, to co-operate, whose view of life is one of co-operation, justice and freedom for everyone. He is here to inspire and confirm those who see co-operation as the way forward, and awaken those who are holding on to the old competitive modes. (Benjamin Creme, The Great Approach)
In unity there is diversity. The time has come to awaken. Be what you are. Do not follow one another. Gradually you will become evolved. No two persons are alike. No two persons can be carbon copies. The moment you take on another’s personality you are creating a distance between Me and you. The moment you are what you are, you begin to enjoy bliss, serenity, tranquility. Then there is no distance between us. (Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life)
Underlying the search for meaning in the life of everybody is the search for unity. They want to be part of the group, of the human existence, because they are souls. They are already divine, and the nature of divinity is unity. There are countless millions of manifestations of that divinity in the universe, but the nature of the absolute divinity from which it all came is unified, unmoving, endless, eternal, never changing. That is behind each one of us. As Maitreya puts it, that is the Being of humanity. The becoming is what happens when that takes the form of living. We go through the process of evolution; that is the becoming. Essentially we are the Self, which is the Divine. Divinity, when we grasp it, when we understand it, recognize it, gives us the experience of what we call life. That is the meaning and essentially the purpose of who and what we are. (Benjamin Creme, The Art of Living)
The greatest diversity within the greatest unity, or put the other way, the greatest unity with the greatest diversity, is the ideal which humanity is seeking, and is in alignment with the Plan of our Logos for the development of this world. It is not a boring sameness – in fact, the very opposite. Maitreya in one of His early messages [No.3] said: “Let Me take you by the hand and take you into a land where no man lacks, where no two days are alike, where the joy of brotherhood manifests through all men.” (Benjamin Creme, The Art of Co-operation)
New temples dedicated to religions in the New Age will be opened soon … They will be centres not just for religious faiths but for the arts and sciences. These temples will be unique because they are the symbols of the fountains of wisdom and knowledge sought by poets and scientists. The temples will begin to unify diverse faiths. It is still important that there are different faiths and beliefs, for without diversity there is no unity. “As the Self is unified in Me so it retains its separate identity.” (Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life)
The Teaching of Maitreya – to be honest in mind, sincere in spirit and detached – helps the Self to move into creation and not play the role of guru, saint or prophet, but with humility to respect, revere and obey the Divine Will which governs Creation. Therefore you will experience freedom in Creation: freedom in Oneness and Manyness; freedom in Unity and Diversity and ultimately salvation which comes from the Supreme Divine Will. When you reach this stage in life, there is no difference between the soul and the Almighty, in which there is no beginning and no end. (Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life)
Sharing and justice alone, Maitreya will say, will ensure the future of men. Strive for unity and co-operation for the men of Earth are One. “See your brother as yourself” and take the first step into your divinity. “Take your brother’s need as the measure for your action and solve the problems of the world. There is no other course.” Thus will Maitreya speak to the people of Earth. Thus will He endeavour to change the direction of their thinking. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The blasphemy of war’)
It is not the evolutionary Plan that one form of government, democratic or otherwise, should prevail. The needs of men are more real and more important than ideologies. Tolerance of difference unites, while ideologies divide.
When Maitreya speaks openly, therefore, He will show that unity in diversity is the key to future harmony. That all the nations have a destiny, unique and sacred. He will point the way to achieve this blessed state and encourage men to open their hearts to a wiser understanding of the Plan. Under Maitreya’s guidance, men will come to appreciate and value the richness of the achievements of themselves and others. The urge to compete and to dominate will gradually subside and a new chapter will open for men in brotherhood and peace. Thus will it be. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Unity in diversity’)
If you could see this world with the eyes of a person living
2,000 years ago, you would be astonished by radio and television, facilities
for travel and so on. A completely different world pertains today from 2,000
years ago. If you had the vision to see ahead say, 1,000 years from now, you
would be astonished by the world which would await your gaze at that time:
modes of travel which today you cannot even imagine – thinking yourself to
Australia if that is what you want to do. Can you imagine the world 1,000 years
from now? A world in which unity is the keynote, in which synthesis actually
prevails; in which there are no wars, no hunger, no great divisions; a world
living in unity, in harmony; a world in which the cities are beautiful.
(Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission, Volume Two)
Gradually, all opinions, religions and divisions will be united. “I want My garden to be restored. It will be full of diversity, yet united. It will be beautiful and flourishing.” (Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life)
The time is soon coming when men will see for themselves that the direction on which they are now embarked is false, fruitless for their future happiness, and doomed to failure. Seeing this, they will pose the questions: Why this emptiness? Why do we fail to achieve the peace we seek? Where have we gone wrong? Turning then to Maitreya, they will evaluate His words, testing them for relevance to their plight. They will find that central to Maitreya’s thought is the concept of Oneness. Men must, He will assure them, see themselves as One, each part of a united Whole – the human family – and that all that they do must reflect that Oneness. The present failure to appreciate this reality, He will contend, is responsible for all our difficulties and troubles, our disharmony and fears, our conflicts and wars.
“See your brother as yourself,” says Maitreya. Create an International Storehouse from which all can take. Only thus, by Sharing, can the world be renewed, is His Teaching. Only by Sharing, He will affirm, will men find the happiness they seek. Sharing alone will bring Justice and Peace. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The Oneness of Humanity’)
Each age confers on humanity a specific quality of achievement.
Pisces, the age now at an end, has given to men the divine achievement of Individuality,
together with the qualities of Devotion and Idealism. These are mighty advances
in the long journey of evolution and have prepared mankind for the blessings
The new age, Aquarius, has, too, its intrinsic quality – Synthesis – and in this coming time will, indeed, cause this divine attribute to manifest its beneficent Unity throughout the world. This present time of turmoil, division and separation will gradually give way to an era in which the ever-increasing forces of Aquarius will perform their magic, blending and knitting together the disparate, unruly, parts. Thus will men undergo an extraordinary transformation, greater and faster than ever before in their long history. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Aquarius – the Giver of Unity’)
The old, mechanistic views of nature and of the forces at work within her are fast disappearing and a new awareness is dawning of the unity underlying all manifestation. More and more, the concept that all is energy, that energy and matter are different states of one reality and can be affected by thought, is being accepted on a wide scale and is changing men’s view of life. Enlightenment is growing apace and soon the methods and technology will be found to demonstrate this fact. This is of profound significance for the future evolution of the race. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Growth of consciousness’)
[Unity] achieves beauty because it reflects a divine purpose. If it is true to say that the purpose of all life is the creation of unity, then indeed it is behind the divine idea in the mind of the Logos of our planet. In other words, it is God’s will that beauty should express the strength and the reality which we call unity. … Unity has to be seen as a continuous gain, something into which you put time, energy and nourishing love, and out of that comes the beauty of the unity which can only be achieved in that way. (Benjamin Creme, The Art of Co-operation)
As we near the beginning of a new era, the thoughts of men turn to the sky and the possibilities which exist for future travel between the planets. Already, instruments probe deep into space, gathering the information which may throw light on the nature of the system in which we live. Men’s thoughts turn upwards and outwards for the first time. This concern is new for man. Seldom before has his thought reached further than his own hearth, restricting his vision of the vast scope of cosmos which awaits his exploration. At the same time, new discoveries about the nature of Life Itself are awakening men to the need for an outer expression of the unity which, they now know, underlies our Universe. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The Divine science’)
Essentially, all men inwardly seek unity and find its reflection in conformity of thought and ideas. This instinct is behind the formation of political parties and other groups. The ideological consensus acts as a magnet and strengthens the potency of the whole.
Groups and parties founder when the inner unity is disturbed. Unity is a soul quality and essential for the cohesion of the group. Too great an emphasis on individuals and personality differences thus tends to weaken the unifying ties which hold the group together. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Unity’)
Mankind is not only a unity, it is a unit. It is a fused Being, and each unit in that Being is held together in a dynamic relationship by that energy we call Love. So that it is absolutely intrinsic to our nature. When we demonstrate hatred or anything else but Love we are only demonstrating Love in a distorted fashion. Goodwill is Love on a lower level, hatred is Love on the other side of the coin. That Love is everywhere in the universe; there could not be a universe without the manifestation of the energy we call Love. There are other, higher aspects than Love – and the Christ comes to show a higher aspect which includes Love. That is the New Revelation. (Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom)
I shall show you wonders of which you cannot dream. I shall release from your eyes the blindfold of ignorance. I shall drive from this earth forever the curse of hatred, the sin of separation. Let Me take you with Me, My friends, back to your Source, back to the cradle of your Being, and release in you your Godhead. My Masters will serve you, too, will teach you to live together in true brotherhood, in justice and harmony. Forget not, My brothers, that you are One, that the Father of All has created you in His Divine Image, that through you shines the same blessed Light of Love and Truth. The time is coming, My friends, when the Light of Truth shall shine all around you, when Man shall take his brother to his heart and know him as himself. Let Me lead you, My friends, into that blessed state. Say yes to My Advent. Say yea to My Coming, and be enfolded in the blessing of My Love. May the Divine Light and Love and Power of the One Most Holy God be now manifest within your hearts and minds. May this manifestation lead you to see yourselves, together, as children of the One Father. (Maitreya, from Message No.51)
There has never been an Avatar better equipped for His task than Maitreya. There has never been a need for such an Avatar, but this world is now so complex, so divided, so riddled with both good and bad, positive and negative, that all of these forces have to be reconciled. This is His aim, this longing in the heart of the Christ for unity, for using His powers, His insights, to establish His nature, which is love, in the world. In this way He teaches us how to love and, as the Master says, “love again.” To love again is not to love in a normal, reactive sense, but to love totally, unconditionally, in the way that the Masters do. This will establish the brotherhood of man. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission, Volume Three)
Maitreya will emphasize the utter necessity for peace, and that the complete renunciation of war can only be achieved by trust. Sharing alone, Maitreya will affirm, can engender that trust. Thus will Maitreya speak, thus will He foster the sense of the One humanity and the need for sharing. Needless to say, not all men will respond to Maitreya’s call for Unity and Brotherhood, but as the voice of reason and justice penetrates the hearts of men, more and yet more will see the truth of His insight and the necessity for change. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The people awaken’)
Take unity as your banner and walk the way of power. Unity makes all things possible. Without unity nothing is certain; the finest possibilities come to dust. Achievement lies in the right use of the given capacities; lacking unity, the highest potential may be wasted.
Unity is a manifestation of Spirit, for the true nature of humanity is One. All that leads to unity benefits the race and lends wings to the journey. Unity is invincible; the dark ones beat on the shield of unity in vain. The time is coming when unity will be achieved but the first steps in that direction must be taken now. Useless it is to wait for others to start; the move towards unity must be made by each one. Nothing so pierces the web of unity as criticism. A thousand possibilities are lost in this way. Keep silent the tongue of criticism and protect the precious fabric so carefully spun.
Each in his own way knows the power of unity; each seeks from his neighbour approval and consent, but mechanical conformity of thought here has no place. Each move in the direction of unity adds power to the whole and lightens the task of the Toilers behind the scenes. Create unity and know the true nature of man. Preserve unity and allow the Spirit of man to flourish. Teach unity and unleash the love in your brother’s heart. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The need for unity’)
My Teaching will bring to you a new but simple Truth, and show you to yourselves as God. My Teaching will release in you that Godhead, and further, thus, God’s Plan. Many await My coming with trepidation, fearing the loss of all that they have loved, all that they have amassed and gained. Fear not, My friends, for the loss will be the loss of separation only, of division and fear, of envy and hate. To clear these from the world all must be remade. Know this, My friends, and be ready to share, to see your brother as yourself, to clasp him in your arms and call him friend. In this way, My brothers, you manifest God’s Plan. Towards the completion of that Plan do I work and call you to My side. Work with Me, My friends; together we shall make all things new. Good night, My dear friends. May the Divine Light and Love and Power of the One Most Holy God be now manifest within your hearts and minds. May this manifestation lead you to see your brother as yourself. (Maitreya, from Message No.125)
Historic action by 56 newspapers worldwide
The following editorial was published on 7 December 2009 by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. The text was drafted by a team of journalists at the UK’s Guardian newspaper, during more than a month of consultations with editors from over 20 of the papers involved. Like the Guardian most of the newspapers took the unusual step of featuring the editorial on their front page.
Copenhagen climate change conference:
'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation'
“Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.
Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.
Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.
The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C – the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction – would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.
Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.
But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay."
At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided – and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.
Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.
Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world's biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.
Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets
and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean
technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions.
The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous
multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible
assessment of "exported emissions" so that the burden can eventually
be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those
who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual
developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for
instance newer EU members, often much poorer than "old Europe", must
not suffer more than their richer partners.
The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance – and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.
Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.
But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.
Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.
Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature".
It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.
The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.” (Source: The Guardian, UK)
International day of climate action
An emerging global grassroots movement demonstrated its strength
on 24 October 2009 when people in 181 countries took part in 5,200 events to
highlight the need for strong action on the climate crisis.
The focus of the international effort was the number 350. The figure is most generally accepted by scientists and climate experts as the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million (ppm). Until about 200 years ago, the Earth’s atmosphere contained 275 ppm of carbon dioxide. The current figure is 390 ppm, and is increasing by 2 ppm each year.
Unless humanity can rapidly reduce the carbon dioxide concentration to 350 ppm, there is a serious risk of irreversible impacts to the planet – such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased melting of permafrost. This according to Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, the group that organized the 24 October event. What took place on that day, McKibben said, “was ordinary people rallying around a scientific data point to send the message that our leaders actually need to lead.”
McKibben said: “Parts per million CO2 sounds too obscure an idea to attract crowds on six continents, but there were thousands of people in the streets from Togo and Ethiopia and Paraguay to Seattle and London and Sydney.” In front of the ‘Hollywood’ sign in California, the White House in Washington, the pyramids in Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and thousands of other locations worldwide, people called attention to the number 350 in creative ways and sent their photos to the 350.org website.
As the next step in this growing global movement, millions of people plan to take action on 12 December 2009 during the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. (Source: www.350.org)
Wealthy Germans call for higher taxes
A group of wealthy Germans have offered an unusual contribution
to aid Germany’s economic recovery by demanding to pay higher taxes.
The 44 signatories to a petition which calls on the government to raise taxes for the rich say that simply donating money will not be enough to deal with the problems. Since they have more money than they need, the petitioners say, they want a change in the government’s approach. Worried about the increase in unemployment, poverty and social inequality, the group wants the extra tax revenue used to fund economic and social programmes: “The path out of the crisis must be paved with massive investment in ecology, education and social justice”.
The petition, which will be presented to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, says the country could raise €100 billion in two years with a five per cent wealth tax for the richest. According to Dieter Lehmkuhl, the retired doctor and heir to a brewery who started the petition, there are 2.2 million Germans with a fortune of €500,000 or more. One of the signatories, Peter Vollmer, told AFP news agency he supported the proposal because he had inherited “a lot of money I do not need”. (Source: BBC News Online, UK)
Gene therapy experiment improves sight in 12 patients
An experimental gene therapy has improved the vision of 12 people suffering from a rare congenital disease. The therapy, which involves a single injection of genes, helped improve worsening eyesight caused by an inherited disease called Leber congenital amaurosis, or LCA. The disease makes most patients blind by the age of 40.
“All 12 patients given gene therapy in one eye showed improvement in retinal function,” according to a report written by a team of researchers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their report was published in The Lancet medical journal.
LCA causes the retina to degenerate and the researchers found that the younger the patient treated with the therapy, the better the effects. Although the experiment was intended mainly to prove that the treatment was safe, it showed surprisingly strong effects, according to researchers Dr Katherine High and Dr Jean Bennett.
“This study reports dramatic results in restoring vision to patients who previously had no options for treatment,” said Dr High. “These findings may expedite development of gene therapy for more common retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.”
In a commentary written for the report, Dr Frans Cremers and Dr Rob Collin of Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands, said: “The study by Bennett and co-workers will further boost gene therapy trials and provide hope for patients with inherited blindness and other genetic disorders.” (Source: Reuters)
Free market flawed
A new worldwide poll conducted for the BBC World Service has discovered widespread discontent with free-market capitalism. Only about one in ten of those questioned across 27 countries thought that it still works.Many said that regulation and reform were required, and nearly a quarter of all those who responded thought that capitalism was fatally flawed. In France, that figure was even 43 per cent, in Mexico 38 per cent, and in Brazil 35 per cent. A majority around the world think that wealth should be distributed more evenly, and that governments should intervene more to regulate business. (Source: BBC, UK)
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|First published April 1999,|