Thousands of Australian Students Strike Over Climate Change Inaction
Thousands of Australian students defied their country's Prime Minister Friday when they walked out of school to protest insufficient government action on climate change.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had criticized the planned School Strike 4 Climate Action protests on Monday.
"Each day I send my kids to school and I know other members' kids should also go to school but we do not support our schools being turned into parliaments," Morrison said, The Guardian reported. "What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools."
But the students showed Morrison exactly what they thought of his opinion, both by gathering in Australia's capital cities and 20 regional centers en masse on Friday, as The Guardian further reported, and by responding directly in some of their signs.
"Why should we go to school if you won't listen to the educated?" one sign shared by Environment Victoria on Twitter read.
"What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts given by the finest scientists are ignored by ou… https://t.co/q6OqBwesBZ— Environment Victoria (@Environment Victoria)1543533872.0
Organizers told The Sydney Morning Herald that Morrison's words actually brought more students out into the streets.
"Numbers through the website since Monday have almost doubled," one campaigner said. "Sign-ups have grown significantly. We have had a flood of media."
It’s brilliance is in it’s simplicity. #climatestrike https://t.co/QwIYnH73FS— Ira Snave (@Ira Snave)1543544520.0
Trent, a parent of an eight-year-old protester interviewed by Australia's ABC, said the students' education was actually driving their activism.
"I heard students today at the rally talking about the IPCC report, talking about the 700 odd days until emissions can peak before we exceed 1.5 degrees," he said. "These are kids that actually understand the science in a way that I think most of parliamentarians don't."
Hey @AdaniAustralia can you hear us? That's 10,000 young people telling you we don't want you stuffing up our futur… https://t.co/w7GO3HZJRE— School Strike 4 Climate (@School Strike 4 Climate)1543556430.0
The Australian government, however, has said it will continue to exploit its coal reserves even after the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report called on world leaders to phase out coal by 2050 in order to keep warming to only 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Morrison has said Australia will meet its pledge under the Paris agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, but the most recent IPCC report found global emissions must actually fall to 45 percent of 2010 levels by that date. The most recent UN Emissions Gap Report found that Australia had made no improvements to its climate policy since last year, BBC News reported.
The Australian students were inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old activist who launched a similar protest movement in her country. Thunberg, in turn, took to Twitter to wish the Australian students well.
Time for bed in Sweden. But in Australia it’s already morning and the 30th of November. IStand strong Australia. We… https://t.co/qv48JGWvfZ— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1543521058.0
The Australian movement was spearheaded by two 14-year-olds in the state of Victoria, Milou Albrect and Harriet O'Shea Carre.
"The climate change emergency is something we have been thinking about for a long time," O'Shea Carre told BBC News. "We wrote letters and did different things but they never seemed to make a difference. Really, education, is our only power. By sacrificing that [on Friday], it's making a big point."
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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