Greta Thunberg Kicks Off Third Year of Fridays for Future Protests
By Jessica Corbett
Swedish climate leader Greta Thunberg donned a mask and joined a socially distanced Fridays for Future protest in Berlin just a day after she and three other youth activists met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government took over the European Council presidency in July, to discuss the planetary emergency.
Thunberg—along with Luisa Neubauer of Germany and Anuna de Wever van der Heyden and Adélaïde Charlier, both of Belgium—met with Merkel on Thursday exactly two years after the first school strike for the climate took place, which the four activists noted in an op-ed for the Guardian Wednesday that detailed their plans to share with her an open letter from July, now signed by over 125,000 people, calling on European Union and global leaders to #FaceTheClimateEmergency.
About 100 activists reiterated that demand with their Friday demonstration in the German capital. Tweeting about the meeting with the chancellor, Fridays for Future Berlin wrote that "conversations must be followed by deeds—that's why we take to the streets together!"
School strike week 105. We’re back, social distant. Berlin! #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture #schoolstrike4climate… https://t.co/jcY5vVtahZ— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1598003937.0
BREAKING: Nach dem Gespräch mit Merkel gestern haben heute 100 Aktivist:innen von #FridaysForFuture zusammen mit… https://t.co/e2UwCuZtNA— Fridays for Future Berlin (@Fridays for Future Berlin)1598000400.0
After the 90-minute meeting with Merkel, Thunberg told reporters that "we want leaders to step up, take responsibility, and treat the climate crisis like a crisis."
The Swedish teenager added that the Fridays for Future activists want world leaders "to dare to step out of their comfort zones, to prioritize the future ahead of us now, and to be brave enough to think long-term."
Citing a German government statement issued after the meeting, Politico reported that "the group discussed the climate priorities of the German E.U. Council presidency, the E.U.'s objective of becoming climate-neutral by 2050, and efforts to hike the bloc's 2030 emissions reduction targets."
According to Reuters:
The government spokesman said Merkel and the activists agreed that global warming posed a challenge for the world and that industrialized countries had a special responsibility to tackle it.
"The basis for this is the consistent implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement," the spokesman said.
The German government admitted earlier this week that it would have missed its climate target for 2020 if the economic havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic had not caused a large drop in greenhouse gas emissions.
Neubauer told journalists that Merkel "at least confirmed that she is willing to get stuff done during the [E.U.] presidency... Yet eventually, at the end of the day, it's about common budgets, it's about very clear targets, it's about numbers and figures and that we need action, more than really nice and big words."
"It became very clear that we look at the situation from different perspectives," Neubauer said of the climate crisis after the meeting. "As a physicist, [Merkel] does understand the science. As a politician, she well understands the political complexity behind that struggle. The question is now how to fill that gap."
The German activist added that "the interests of future generations have to be somehow balanced with interests of generations today—and that's a huge challenge and we're not denying that at all."
During the Corona crisis, the #FridaysForFuture demonstrations could not take place. Now #climate activists, includ… https://t.co/clnemnAEmp— Deutschland.de | Germany (@Deutschland.de | Germany)1598018404.0
Neubauer also shared that Fridays for Future is mobilizing another worldwide strike next month, while acknowledging challenges posed by the pandemic.
"We used to strike in masses on the streets which was for many weeks not thinkable during corona and is still a very challenging task," she noted. "We're listening to the science and we are adjusting. We're moving to spaces where we can strike safely—sometimes digitally, sometimes in smaller numbers on the streets."
"We have decided to strike again globally and safely, if possible on the streets... we're mobilizing right now for September 25," Neubauer said. "The climate crisis hasn't slowed, it's escalating. We need people to demand action and this is obviously what we keep doing."
The calls for urgent action in Berlin on Friday were echoed by other school strikers across the globe. Some participated in the weekly Fridays for Future protest digitally due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while others wore masks and took additional safety precautions like the strikers in Germany.
Week 36! #schoolstrike4climate from Kenya. let's stop talking and act!Action is better than words. We cannot eat co… https://t.co/WN3Nn5db4G— Dorcas Wakio (@Dorcas Wakio)1597992004.0
School has started again and we are back at the #ClimateStrike in front of the Swedish Parliament again! The strike… https://t.co/8X9zhEvlKz— Isabelle Axelsson🌍 (@Isabelle Axelsson🌍)1597990502.0
#ClimateStrikeOnline week17 危機感を持てば、行動せずにはいられません。 危機に気づくということは行動するということです。 ※私たちの"行動しないリーダー"はまだ気候危機の深刻さを理解していないのです。… https://t.co/l0fxBus5lN— Tenshin てんしん (@Tenshin てんしん)1597978589.0
#FridaysForFuture climate strike at Sydney Town Hall https://t.co/N6DByTMqGK— Fridays For Future Sydney (@Fridays For Future Sydney)1597989997.0
"This is week 80 of my #schoolstrike4climate but are you listening?" tweeted Leah Namugerwa, a 16-year-old in Uganda. "Whether you do or not I'll continue doing what is right for my and future generations."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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