Greta Thunberg Declines $51K Environmental Prize, Says ‘Climate Movement Does Not Need any More Awards’
Greta Thunberg wants action, not prizes.
The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist was awarded the 2019 Nordic Council Environment Prize Tuesday, but refused to accept it, CNN reported.
"I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour," Thunberg wrote in an Instagram post from the U.S., where she is currently traveling. "But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science."
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I have received the Nordic Council’s environmental award 2019. I have decided to decline this prize. Here’s why: “I am currently traveling through California and therefore not able to be present with you today. I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour. But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science. The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words. But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita - if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping - then it’s a whole other story. In Sweden we live as if we had about 4 planets according to WWF and Global Footprint Network. And roughly the same goes for the entire Nordic region. In Norway for instance, the government recently gave a record number of permits to look for new oil and gas. The newly opened oil and natural gas-field, ”Johan Sverdrup” is expected to produce oil and natural gas for 50 years; oil and gas that would generate global CO2 emissions of 1,3 tonnes. The gap between what the science says is needed to limit the increase of global temperature rise to below 1,5 or even 2 degrees - and politics that run the Nordic countries is gigantic. And there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required. The Paris Agreement, which all of the Nordic countries have signed, is based on the aspect of equity, which means that richer countries must lead the way. We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing. So until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1,5 degrees or even 2 degrees celsius, I - and Fridays For Future in Sweden - choose not to accept the Nordic Councils environmental award nor the prize money of 500 000 Swedish kronor. Best wishes Greta Thunberg”
A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on
The Nordic Council is one of the "main forums for official Nordic cooperation," according to its website. It brings together Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland in order to "make the Nordic region the most sustainable and integrated region in the world."
But in her rejection post, Thunberg criticized the Nordic countries for the gap between their rhetoric and their action when it comes to the climate crisis.
"The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words," she wrote. "But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita—if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping—then it's a whole other story."
She pointed to data from WWF and Global Footprint Network showing that we would require around four planet earths to sustain us if everyone lived like the population of Sweden. She also called out Norway's newly-opened Johan Sverdrup oil field, which is expected to produce oil and natural gas for 50 years.
"So until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees or even 2 degrees celsius, I—and Fridays For Future in Sweden—choose not to accept the Nordic Councils environmental award nor the prize money of 500,000 Swedish kronor," ($51,000) she concluded.
The theme for the council's 2019 prize was "initiatives that promote sustainable consumption and production by doing more with less," according to its website.
Thunberg was nominated by Sweden and Norway, and selected by the jury for "breathing new life into the debate surrounding the environment and climate at a critical moment in world history."
In Thunberg's absence, the award was presented by Swedish environmental activist Noura Berrouba to Isabelle Axelsson and Sophia Axelsson of Fridays For Future, who declined it on Thunberg's behalf.
Greta Thunberg was awarded the Nordic Council Environment Prize, but has chosen not to accept it in protest at a lack of climate action. This was the message from Isabelle Axelsson and Sophia from #FridaysForFuture 🌍 during the award ceremony: https://t.co/vxnuakQuMH #ActNow— Nordic Co-operation (@nordenen) October 29, 2019
Fridays for Future was started by Thunberg in August 2018 when she launched a one-person school strike outside Swedish parliament that grew into a global youth movement.
"Like none before her, in a very short space of time Greta has succeeded in raising awareness of climate and environmental issues in the Nordic countries and the rest of the world. She has stubbornly and persuasively urged the world to listen to research and act on the basis of facts," the Nordic Council wrote.
Her refusal message is a case in point.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
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