25 of the Most Powerful Voices on Climate Change Brought to You by The Weather Channel
Some very prominent voices have gotten a lot of media attention for their comments on climate change, including President Obama and Pope Francis. And there are people within the scientific community who have been speaking out for years, providing us with information and thoughtful insights.
The Weather Channel's new media package, The Climate 25: Conversations With 25 of the Smartest Voices on Climate, Security, Energy and Peace, is bringing to the forefront a diverse set of voices and perspectives worthy of more attention.
It describes the project as "a digital media and television experience featuring interviews with the world’s 25 most compelling voices on one of the most pressing issues of our time—the impact of climate disruption on human security."
"There are are only a few issues more contentious than climate change in American political life," it says. "But while the climate change debate rages in some quarters, in others, most notably among those who study the climate, there is wide consensus. It’s for this reason that the Weather Channel has adopted a position on climate change that can generally be summed up as follows: we report the science, and the science consistently says climate change is real, humans are causing it and we must prepare for its effects."
All 25 people spotlighted start with the assumption that climate change is occurring, and go on from there to offer their opinions as to what that might mean for the planet, for local economies, and for peace and security. Some of the voices have names people might know, such as former Republican governor of New Jersey and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator under President George W. Bush, Christine Todd Whitman. Others most probably have never have heard of such as Ugandan community leader/farmer Constance Okollet, who speaks out about the impact of climate change on her village.
The 25 individuals spotlighted include former politicians and government officials, business people, scientist, writers, retired military officers and community leaders. They range from the powerful, such as former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulsen who calls climate change "the biggest economic risk the world faces," to Syrian refugee Farah Nasif who talks about how drought fueled the revolution and the refugee crisis in her homeland.
"Everything changed with the drought," she says. "The drought was one of the main reasons for the revolution. They have that anger, that hate for the government. They said, 'Oh, this government doesn't help me before and I don't expect in the future so I will destroy it.'"
One interesting aspect of the Weather Channel's Climate 25 is that most of the political figures are Republicans, including Whitman, Paulson, former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis and William K. Reilly, U.S. EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush, a rebuke to the climate deniers who make up the majority of the Republican presidential field. Inglis has attributed his defeat in 2010 to his outspokenness on the need to take action on climate change. In his video, he explains how he evolved from thinking climate change was a figment of "Al Gore's imagination" to introducing a carbon tax bill in Congress.
"Our challenge is explaining why conservative would want a new tax, especially a tax on carbon dioxide," he says. "My fellow conservatives, they sort of break out in hives if you mention the word 'carbon.' They go into anaphylactic shock when they hear the word 'tax.'"
"You cannot have thriving economy if people don't have clean air to breathe or clean water to drink or good quality of life," says Whitman. "The way the Republican Party is addressing the issue of climate change is both frustrating and puzzling, because if you think about it, it's our history. The first president to set aside open space was Abraham Lincoln with Yosemite. Then you have Teddy Roosevelt and the national park system and all he did to expand that. It was Richard Nixon who established the EPA. It's ours. It's our issue. It's conservation. It's conservative. This is an issue we should be talking about in a rational way."
In addition to those mentioned above, the Weather Channel's Climate 25 includes New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, General Charles H. Jacoby (ret.), Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Climate Central chief scientist Heidi Cullen, White House science advisor Dr. John Holdren, Global Crop Diversity Trust special advisor Cary Fowler, Energy Innovation CEO Hal Harvey, author Cleo Paskal, Major General Munir Muniruzzaman (ret.), Papua New Guinea community leader Ursula Rakova, Rear Admiral David Titley (ret.), former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Sherri Goodman, Eli Lehrer of free market think tank R Street Institute, Brigadier General Stephen Cheney (ret.), founding editor of Climate Progress Joe Romm, president & CEO of Care USA Helene Gayle, former firefighter and director of climate change science and policy integration at WWF Nicky Sundt, former CIA director James Woolsey and Associate Director for Climate Change at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. George Luber.
The multi-platform project launched today on the website, mobile and Facebook, with a week of five mini-episodes airing on the Weather Channel. The Climate 25 is the latest commitment by The Weather Channel to "explore important topics at the nexus of weather, climate and impactful news."
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A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
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