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 Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.