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Get the “Love the Pope” Tee Shirt

Pope Francis comes to the United States next week with a message of love, hope, and concern for all people and the planet.

He will arrive in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, September 22. On Wednesday, September 23, he will meet with President Obama at the White House. On Thursday, September 24, he will address a joint session of Congress. That night he will travel to New York City, where he will address the UN General Assembly on Friday, September 25. On Saturday, September 26, he will come to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. While here, he will give a speech at Independence Hall, visit a prison, say mass on Ben Franklin Parkway, and then fly back to Rome that same night.

And you thought you had a busy schedule.

Throughout his U.S. visit, Pope Francis is expected to emphasize concern for the poor and disadvantaged, the need for moral and spiritual growth, and the crucially important issue of environmental degradation of the planet, including the need to fight climate change.

As people of conscience committed to fighting climate change, we come from diverse religious traditions or no religious tradition at all.  But when it comes to climate change, we love the Pope because of the strength and clarity of his message. He reminds us that this is a moral issue.

To commemorate the visit of Pope Francis, we have commissioned a limited run of tee shirts with the “Love the Pope” logo on the front and the words “Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change” on the back for the first 100 people who make a minimum donation of $20 to A Call to the Bar through the donate button on our web site. Also, send us an email at info@calltothebar.org with the size of the tee shirt (youth large, and adult M, L XL, and XXL). We will ship as soon as possible so hopefully they will arrive in the mail before the Pope gets to Philadelphia.

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A Call to the Bar is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, and all funds are used to further our mission. We are not a tax exempt organization under IRS Code section 501(c)(3). We decided not to seek tax exempt status because that would place legal limits on our lobbying efforts, and we will accept no limits on our efforts to convince elected officials of the need for immediate government action on climate change.

Philadelphia Eagles Lead All Leagues in Sustainability

Several of our volunteers and supporters recently toured Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles, and learned why the Birds are #1 in sustainability.

As explained to us by tour guide Norman Vossschulte, who serves as Director of Fan Experience, the Eagles are the greenest team in all of American sports. Check out these facts:

  • 100% of the Eagles’ operations are powered by the sun and wind. A total of more than 11,000 solar panels on the roof, over some of the parking spots, and on the front of the building provide 30% of the energy. The rest comes from the purchase of renewable energy credits.
  • Through continuous efforts in recycling and composting, the Eagles have sent no waste to landfills in over two years.
  • A team of 80 people work on game days sorting every bag of trash. With the audio piped into the sorting room, the sorters cheer for their team as they work.
  • The Eagles use no chemicals to clean the stadium, but rely entirely on a water and electrolyte solution that is generated on site and recycled.
  • The Eagles offer beer in aluminum cans with no plastic cups offered, and they recycle the cans, crush them, and sell the aluminum in bulk.

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The Eagles are on the cutting edge of sustainability for American sports teams. As owner Jeffrey Lurie told the New York Times in 2010, “[w]e’ve read a lot that excellent environmental practices are too expensive or not wise for a company. We challenged that.” Major credit goes to Mr. Lurie and his co-owner, Christina Weiss Lurie.

We thank the Eagles for the awesome tour. In addition to all the green stuff, the tour of lockers rooms was pretty cool. Special thanks to Pennsylvania Businesses for a Healthy Climate, which organized the tour.

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Season of Hope on Climate Change

Today the cause of combatting climate change gains a very important ally. Pope Francis has issued a papal encyclical on climate change that throws the full moral weight of the world’s largest religious organization in favor of taking action to preserve the planet.

His Holiness has not spoken to us directly, but it’s pretty clear that he is trying to influence public opinion in the critical months leading up to the UN Climate Summit this December in Paris.  The UN Meeting in Paris represents possibly the last clear chance to limit the harm from climate change to a further increase of no more than 2 degrees Celsius, which many climate scientists think is the limit the planet can endure without a full scale catastrophe.

Between now and December, we expect to hear much more from the Pope on climate change, particularly when he visits the United States this Fall and speaks to a joint session of Congress on September 23 and the UN General Assembly onSeptember 25.

We hope to be enlisting a lot of support from lawyers between now and December. We have just launched our social media campaign with three blog posts.

Please check them out and most importantly, share them with others, and ask them to sign the Petition for Immediate Government Action on Climate Change.

We are planning activities now for the remainder of the year, including educational programs at law schools and bar associations around the country. We will share updates about our progress and news item of great interest.

Economists Agree on the Solution to Climate Change

By now everyone should know that there is no reasonable debate among scientists that global climate change AKA global warming is real, is caused by greenhouse gas emissions primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), and will cause catastrophic consequences for humans in the coming decades if we do not substantially reduce emissions soon. If you doubt any part of that statement, check out Lawyers Should Listen to Scientists on Climate Change.

What seems to be less well known is that there is a near universal consensus among economists that the most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions is through some type of carbon pricing policy.

In the United States, proponents of a carbon pricing to reduce CO2 emissions include well known economists such as:

That’s just some of the many prominent economists who support carbon pricing. In fact, most economists support carbon pricing because it would make using fossil fuels more expensive, so people would use less of them. At the same time it would make other alternatives—like conservation and renewable energy sources much more attractive. It would “unleash a wave of innovation to develop technologies, lower the costs of clean energy and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and infrastructure,” as Hank Paulson said.

One particularly attractive alternative is the carbon fee and dividend proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby. Under this proposal, all of the revenues collected would be returned to citizens on a per capita basis. As George Schultz has said, “It’s not a tax if the government doesn’t keep the money.”

We already know that climate change is a serious problem that must be addressed soon or our children will face a world growing increasingly unlivable. Now we know that there is a solution endorsed by all serious economists. Faced with this knowledge, we as lawyers should do all we can to convince elected officials to establish effective carbon pricing now.

You can start by signing the Petition for Immediate Action On Climate Change

Lawyers Should Listen to Scientists on Climate Change

As lawyers, one thing we know is the value of specialists and specialized knowledge, of all types. If you’ve got an ERISA issue, talk to an ERISA lawyer. If you’ve got a skin growth, talk to a dermatologist. We count on specialists to give us advice not based on their own quirky view of the problem, but instead based on the knowledge and learning of people in their field.

On climate change, we should listen to people like Richard Alley, Ph.D., of The Pennsylvania State University. Richard is a geologist who studies glaciers and climate change. He is widely recognized in the scientific community for his research and scholarship on climate change aka global warming.

Richard spoke to a meeting of lawyers in Philadelphia in the fall of 2014 and shared the basics about climate change. Video clips of Richard’s talk are available on our web site, but in case you don’t have time to review them, here is the quick recap:

  • “Yes it is getting warmer.” There is no reasonable doubt among scientists that the planet is getting warmer.
  • The Fifth Grade Version of Climate Change. The cause of the warming is carbon dioxide (C02) caused by human activity. C02 is invisible but it does have mass and weight, and the average American pumps 40,000 pounds of it a year into the atmosphere. “This cannot continue.”
  • “It’s physics!” People ask Dr. Alley whether he believes in global warming. He doesn’t believe it—he knows it because it’s physics. There is no scientific debate on the subject because the scientific facts are the scientific facts.
  • “The uncertainties are all on the downside.” During all the time humans have been on earth, we have never caused CO2 in parts per million to be anywhere near this high. The consequences for life on earth are projected to be very bad in the relatively near future, but they could be even worse sooner.

The insights that Dr. Alley shared in Philadelphia are not unique. Many other scientists have spoken out on these same points, and the world’s leading scientific organizations have recognized a broad scientific consensus on the cause and urgency of climate change. The inescapable conclusion is that we must reduce CO2 emissions. To find out how we can do that in a way in a way that will stimulate economic growth, check out Economists Agree on the Solution to Climate Change

We need the help of all people of all walks and calling, but lawyers and the legal community can and should take a leadership role. You can start by signing the Petition for Immediate Action On Climate Change.

Calling All Counsel Concerning Climate Change

This is the inaugural post for the blog of A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change. We are lawyers (including law students) dedicated to convincing government to take immediate action to substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Our group is unique in focusing our call to action at lawyers. We support the efforts of all the other groups and people dedicated to saving the planet. We believe that lawyers when motivated to help can be particularly effective in the fight against climate change.

  • As lawyers, we are highly educated and can understand the facts about climate change, the availability and feasibility of a solution, and the grave consequences of not acting soon.
  • Creating effective arguments and convincing policy makers is a core function of lawyers.
  • We exercise a great deal of influence over elected officials. In fact, many if not most elected officials are lawyers. The same is true of lobbyists.
  • The solution to climate change must be expressed in law, and lawyers will write the law.
  • Climate change is at its core a justice issue, and promoting justice is our most important function as lawyers.

While there are many people already working on convincing government to take action on climate change, the general public is not yet demanding action because there is a lack of understanding about the facts of climate change and the urgency of the problem. We hope to stimulate action by focusing on lawyers and the legal industry. We encourage people in all other professions, vocations, and callings to do the same.

Robert Kennedy said: “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” We want to be a ripple.

The timing of our actions is critical. This year 2015 will end with the UN Climate Meeting in Paris in December. Pope Francis is expected to issue an encyclical on climate change this month. We believe that our actions between now and December could help to convince elected officials to take action this year. But we will continue working on this issue until the fight is won.

We intend to achieve our goal by taking the following steps and encouraging other lawyers everywhere to do the same.

  1. Educate ourselves and other lawyers about the problem, the solution, and the need for action.

Climate change is simultaneously a very simple and incredibly complex problem, which helps to explain why it has been the subject of so much misinformation. Educating ourselves and other about the basics is one of the most effective strategies for fighting climate change.

Lawyers and law students can organize educational programs at bar organizations and law schools featuring knowledgeable speakers about the problem, the solution, and the need for action. If you need help organizing a program in your community, volunteer lawyers from A Call to the Bar can help. Contact info@calltothebar.org.

  1. Adopt resolutions, declarations, and petitions calling for immediate government action on climate change and encouraging others to do the same.

Don’t underestimate the power of formal resolutions, declarations and petitions. The United States of America began with a declaration.

To date, three bar associations have passed strong statements calling for government action on climate change.

We need many more bar associations, including student bar associations, to pass resolutions on climate change! We are actively seeking to work with bar associations and student bar associations that are interested in passing resolutions. If you need help, contact info@calltothebar.org.

We also encourage everyone, non-lawyers included, to show their support for A Call to the Bar by signing the Petition for Immediate Action On Climate Change. Please sign it now.

  1. Talk to elected officials about the need for government to take immediate action to substantially reduce C02 emissions.

Whenever we have the chance, we seek to tell our elected officials, including perhaps most importantly members of Congress, about our concern over climate change and the need to adopt carbon pricing to fight climate change. This is not a partisan issue. We seek the support of members of both of our major political parties as well as independents and others.

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There are many issues that we call care about and as to which we may have differences of opinion. But climate change unites us all, because it will affect us all. We hope that lawyers and law students everywhere will join in the call for action. We believe that our children and grandchildren will thank us.