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Greta Thunberg to Set Sail for NY Climate Summit

Climate
picture-alliance / Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP photo

Greta Thunberg is set to head into a stormy Atlantic Wednesday on board the "Malizia II," a no-comfort, high-tech ocean racer skippered by a champion yachtsman and a member of Monaco's royal family.


Sixteen-year-old Thunberg — who has long refused to fly due to planes' carbon emissions — is setting sail on a zero-emissions yacht to New York for a UN climate summit.

The Fridays for Future star's voyage is skippered by round-the-world sailor Boris Herrmann from Hamburg and Pierre Casiraghi, the grandson of Monaco's late Princess Grace Kelly.

Critics will find fault with its 18-meter-long, carbon-fiber hull — derived from oil — but otherwise relies on its sails and autopilot, hydrofoils for underwater dynamics, a solar panel and water-driven turbines for electricity.

A mandatory diesel motor is sealed away for emergencies.

Dozens of Offers

Thunberg announced mid-June that she had no intention of flying to avoid the "enormous climate" costs of aviation, and soon after she received dozens of trans-Atlantic sailing offers, deciding on "Malizia."

The 16-year-old plans on September 23 to attend a New York "climate action" summit called by UN Chief Antonio Guterres.

Deafening Hull Acoustics

At 15 knots, every wave resounds deafeningly through the hull and can toss crew off balance. On deck safety lines are essential, reported the German Jacht magazine. In the pantry is merely a gas cooker.

Herrmann, who in 2015 sailed heat-thawed Arctic waters and helps run a climate-awareness sailing program for school pupils, said the exact route to New York depended on avoiding the Atlantic's equatorial hurricane season.

"Perhaps we'll sail northerly around one of other lows (air pressure zones)," said Herrmann

"I can imagine that because of her impressive understanding of climate issues she'll bring a strong curiosity for the weather and navigation," he added.

Also due on board were Thunberg's father and actor Svente, and Norwegian filmmaker Nathan Grossman.

Ocean Novice

At a Plymouth dockside briefing last Sunday, Herrmann said Thunberg had assured him she was upbeat despite being a maritime novice, the risk of seasickness and spartan equipment.

To his question whether she was scared, she answered with a "clear no," said Herrmann, who yacht at top speed does 25 knots (46 kilometers per hour).

Efforts "Fading," Warns Guterres

While visiting worried low-lying Pacific island nations in May, UN chief Guterres decried "fading" efforts to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius as agreed in the UN's 2015 Paris agreement — and aimed a net-zero emissions by 2050.

Already, the planet's surface has warmed by 1 degree on average since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century.

Passenger Ship Demise


Upwards of 2,500 flights take place daily
across the Atlantic, with each one-way trip estimated to emit about one ton of carbon dioxide per passenger.

In some 50 countries — from Burundi in Africa to Paraguay in South America — the average resident emits less carbon dioxide in a whole year.

Compared to mainstream trans-Atlantic crossings that brought migrants to the Americas in the 19th century, passenger shipping was overtaken in the 1950s by jetliners.

The few current maritime passenger alternatives across the Atlantic are the luxurious Queen Mary II and several hundred container and cargo ships that carry but only handfuls of paying passengers.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Deutsche Welle.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.