Climate Change Emerges as Key Issue in Close Finland Election
The center left Social Democrats secured a narrow victory Sunday in a Finnish election dominated by the question of climate change.
In Finland, one-third of which sits above the Arctic Circle, most parties campaigned on taking greater climate action, while the nationalist Finns party argued against climate policy that it said required sacrifices from the populace.
"Never before has climate and the limits of planet Earth been discussed with such seriousness in Finland," Greenpeace Finland said, as the Associated Press reported. The group called it "the climate election."
However, that climate focus could have helped the Finns Party come in a close second, some analysts said.
"Well-meaning people wanted to make these elections climate elections, but they only set the table for an election victory for the Finns Party," Helsingin Sanomat columnist Saska Saarikoski tweeted ahead of the election, as The New York Times reported. "Could we learn something from this?"
In the final tally, the winning Social Democrats took 17.7 percent of the votes, while the Finns Party won 17.5 percent. The center-right National Coalition won 17 percent and the current Prime Minister's Centre Party took 13.8 percent, making this the first Finnish general election in one-hundred years in which no party has claimed more than 20 percent of the vote, Reuters reported.
During the election, eight of the nine parties offered plans to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, such as taxing meat or airfare or limiting logging. The Finns Party, meanwhile, presented these proposals as sacrifices imposed on ordinary voters by an urban elite.
"Climate hysteria wrecks the Finnish economy and industry, and it destroys the fruits of decades of work by citizens," Finns Party chairman Jussi Halla-aho said in a video blog reported by The New York Times.
The Finnish election broke a trend in northern European elections by seeing climate displace immigration as the right's favorite hot-button issue. Project manager at climate think-tank Adelphi Stella Schaller told The New York Times that the right could begin to exploit climate across Europe.
"They use identity-laden frames, such as national independence, the homeland, our nature and environment," Schaller said. "They make it an emotional issue by fueling fears of rising energy prices and higher consumer costs. The way they communicate about this is dramatic and personal."
Anita Hellman, who canvassed for the Social Democrats, said she felt the Finn Party had distorted her party's message, making voters believe "the Social Democrats will come and rip your car out of your front yard."
However, many other voters in Finland want more ambitious climate policy.
"For everybody, it's about the climate. It's kind of a climate election. Everybody's feeling some kind of a depression about it," Helsinki interior architect Sofia Frantsi, 27, said, according to the Associated Press.
Young people have been inspired by protests led by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. University of Helsinki political science lecturer Tuomas Yla-Anttila said only a minority were swayed by Finn's positions, though that minority could still make a difference given that the vote was divided between nine parties, according to The New York Times.
Despite the nationalists' close second, it is Social Democratic Party Chairman Antti Rinne who will have the first chance to form a government, which means he could be the first left-wing prime minister in the country since 2003, CNN reported.
"For the first time since 1999 we are the largest party in Finland," he told supporters in Helsinki, according to Reuters.
Climate Change More Than Doubled the Odds of Europe's Heatwave, Scientists Say https://t.co/YbaY9xxQAs https://t.co/iIAGOrtQdy— Renewable Search (@Renewable Search)1532705957.0
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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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By Eoin Higgins
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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