Statue at the entrance to Le Bourget Airport near Paris, honoring Charles Lindbergh, the first to solo the Atlantic, and Frenchmen Charles Nungesser and François Coli, who attempted the crossing two weeks earlier and disappeared without a trace. Each day during the Paris climate change conference, participants passed by the statue — a tribute to the Lindbergh Moment, which resonated with many COP21 attendees. Photo Courtesy of abac077 flickr. Add this image to a lesson
Published January 25, 2016
In May 1927, a fearless aviator named Charles Lindbergh circled his fragile single-engine monoplane, waiting for tens of thousands of expectant Parisians to clear the runway at Le Bourget Field. When he landed, completing his solo trans-Atlantic flight, the jubilant crowd erupted — it was a unifying moment of “can-do” optimism that electrified people around the globe.
Eighty-eight years later, on Dec. 12, 2015, history was made again at Le Bourget. Delegates from 196 nations, for the first time ever, agreed at the 21st United Nations Climate Summit to reduce their carbon emissions, wean the world economy off fossil fuels, and give the human race a shot at surviving the rapidly escalating dangers of global warming in the decades ahead.
Well over 10,000 people crowded the summit venue, and in a fashion similar to Lindbergh’s landing, they were stunned by the outcome, abuzz, euphoric. Despite gloomy predictions, history had been made. The Paris Agreement — though voluntary and still fuzzy on how goals will be reached and enforced — exceeded the expectations of many.
That bolt of optimism also passed through faith leaders onsite and around the world. They sensed their moment had arrived. As COP21 participants celebrated, I dashed into the media center and stopped the first person I recognized, Joe Ware, a spokesman for Christian Aid, a faith-based group in London dedicated to environmental protection. He was breathless.
“Creation care is what this [Paris] agreement is all about,” Ware exclaimed, having just read the 31-page document. “And creation care is at the heart of every world faith. For too long, the movement has been hijacked by environmentalists, the good guys, really. But they only scared people away. The church is now playing catch up, even the Catholic Church, which moves at glacial speed. But now it’s in the forefront,” thanks to Pope Francis’ climate change and environmental leadership.
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