5 Earth Conscious Women to Honor on International Women's Day
Today women and their allies celebrate International Women's Day. This year, the theme for the day—and the campaign that will run all year—is promoting a gender balanced world. "A balanced world is a better world," the day's organizers write. They are asking people around the world to take a picture of themselves making the #BallanceforBeter pose and post it on social medial to promote the cause of gender equality. Here is one example:
We believe in #BalanceforBetter: "I code to help leads towards greater transparency and sustainability of our ocean… https://t.co/qyJC6VUqXf— Global Fishing Watch (@Global Fishing Watch)1552057333.0
When it comes to the environment, a balanced world really does seem to be better. A 2016 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) review found that countries with more female members of parliament were more likely to ratify environmental treaties. In recent years, women of all ages and backgrounds have been at the forefront of fight to protect our common home. Here, then, are five female environmental leaders to celebrate this International Women's Day.
jayk7 / Moment / Getty Images
1. Greta Thunberg
When Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg decided to go on strike from school to protest lack of global action on climate change last August, she was just one person handing out flyers in front of the Swedish parliament. She has since inspired students from Australia to Brussels to join her weekly strikes as part of the #FridaysforFuture movement, building towards a worldwide strike on March 15.
The movement she inspired pushed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to pledge a quarter of $1 trillion to fighting climate change over the next seven years.
"I realized no one is doing anything to prevent this from happening so then I have to do something," Thunberg told RollingStone of her decision to strike for climate action. "I can't vote, so this is one of the ways I can make my voice heard."
Today is #WomensDay. Today we honour sisterhood. Nowhere in the world today women and men are equal The more I read… https://t.co/DookR5qkoS— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1552025847.0
2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated long-time New York Democratic Representative Joe Crowley in a surprise primary victory last June, she became the Democrat with the most ambitious platform on fighting climate change. The Green New Deal she has championed since taking office has caught the public imagination, with early polls suggesting that 81 percent of U.S. voters support it. At least five 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have also endorsed the plan.
The resolution that Ocasio-Cortez co-sponsored with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey calls for a 10 year program to transition the U.S.away from fossil fuels while providing green jobs and greater equality.
"This is really about providing justice for communities and just transitions for communities," Ocasio-Cortez said of the deal.
#GreenNewDeal sign spotting at this year’s St. Pat’s For All parade in Sunnyside! ☘️ 🌎 💚 https://t.co/W660uyMo8P— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1551637760.0
3. Isatou Ceesay
Isatou Ceesay has been called the Queen of Recycling in the Gambia because of her efforts to help women collect plastic pollution and transform it into items like bags and wallets that they can sell to raise money for themselves and their communities. She began her efforts in 1997 with a group of four women in her village of N'Jau who worked to educate their community about the importance of reusing plastic and not simply dumping it behind their homes. She learned how to upcycle plastic waste from a Peace Corps volunteer, and turned the recycling project into a revenue stream for women. You can buy their products at One Plastic Bag.
Ceesay also counted it as a victory when the government of the Gambia consulted her group on a plan to ban the import of plastic bags, which they did in 2015.
"Throughout the world, women carry an incredible responsibility; they are by nature the engine of human development. I love them so much," Ceesay told Climate Heroes. "Their commitment and their strength are unrivalled. We have fallen behind in our development in Africa by not including them."
How to Recycle Plastic Bags into Purses: Isatou Ceesay - Njau, Gambia www.youtube.com
4. Katharine Hayhoe
Katharine Hayhoe is a U.S. climate scientist who is committed to spreading accurate information about climate change. Not only did she help write the Fourth National Climate Assessment report that scared the Trump administration so much they tried burying it by releasing it Thanksgiving weekend, she also wasn't afraid to call out cable news for giving more airtime to climate deniers than actual scientists.
In a Twitter thread last November, she explained how she taped a segment for Anderson Cooper on the assessment that did not make the final cut, while an interview with Rick Santorum spreading disinformation did. CNN later told The Daily Beast that her segment was bumped for breaking news about Paul Manafort, but her thread, in which she pointed out other incidents in which cable news canceled on her last minute, raised important questions about how climate change is covered.
In the un-aired segment, which was posted online, Hayhoe had a clear comeback for deniers like President Donald Trump.
"Unfortunately, facts aren't optional," she said. "We can say we don't believe them, but they're still true."
Hayhoe's dedication to spreading climate information isn't limited to government reports or TV interviews. She also speaks to groups across the country and runs the PBS series Global Weirding, which explains the science to children.
Pacific Northwest, Alaska & The Islands | Global Weirding www.youtube.com
5. Christina Figueres
Christina Figueres is a Costa Rican diplomat and former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) whose efforts led to the passage of the historic Paris agreement to limit global warming to well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, as Quartz reported.
It was a major achievement, but Figureres is also honest about the fact that there is more to be done. Her next initiative is Mission 2020, which seeks to mobilize the globe to reverse the rise of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
In a article for Pacific Standard Friday, Figueres said she was inspired to be hopeful about humanity's chances of meeting the Paris goals because of other women leaders like Thunberg and Ocasio-Cortez, as well as female scientists she met on a recent trip to Antarctica.
"I see in the women I met working on the Paris Agreement, in the women currently leading a new conversation on climate change in the public and political spheres, and in the women I met in Antarctica, an inbuilt, stubborn optimism that will allow us to prevail even when a task can seem insurmountable," she wrote.
Celebrating women and their leadership! #WomensDay https://t.co/Mjfflmm1l5 html— Christiana Figueres (@Christiana Figueres)1552062262.0
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.
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For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.
What Is PTSD?<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">PTSD</a> can occur when someone is exposed to extreme exposure traumatic experience. Typically, the trauma involves a threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Along with war veterans, it happens to refugees; to victims of gun violence, rape and other physical assaults; and to survivors of car accidents and natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes.</p><p>PTSD can also happen by witnessing trauma or its aftermath, often the case with <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd" target="_blank">first responders</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-many-faces-anxiety-and-trauma/202006/invisible-wounds-the-frontline-heroes" target="_blank">front-line workers</a>.</p><p>All this adds up to tens of millions of Americans. Up to 30% of combat veterans and first responders, and 8% of civilians, <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/epidemiology.asp" target="_blank">fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD</a>. And that criteria is not easily met: symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive trauma memories, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of reminders of trauma, negative emotions, and what we call "hyperarousal symptoms."</p>
Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
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By Jeff Berardelli
For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.
International Effort to Evaluate Climate Models<p>For the past 25 years the international community has been evaluating and comparing the world's most sophisticated climate models produced by various teams at universities, research centers, and government agencies. The effort is organized by the World Climate Research Programme under the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.</p><p>Climate models are complicated computer programs composed of millions of lines of code that calculate the physical properties and interactions between the main climate forces like the atmosphere, oceans, and solar input. But models also go a lot further, incorporating other systems like ice sheets, forests, and the biosphere, to name a few. The models are then used to simulate the real-world climate system and project how certain changes, like added pollution or land-use changes, will alter the climate.</p><p>Every few years there is a new comprehensive international evaluation called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). In the sixth such effort, known as CMIP6 and now under way, experts are reviewing about 100 models.</p><p>Information gleaned from this effort will act as a scientific foundation for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next major assessment report, scheduled for release in 2021. The goal of the report – the sixth in 30 years – is to inform the international community about how much the climate has changed, and, importantly, how much change can be expected in coming decades.</p>
A Conundrum Emerges<p>Over the past year, the CMIP6 collection of models being reviewed threw researchers an unexpected curveball: a significant number of the climate model runs showed substantially more global warming than previous model versions had projected. If accurate, the international climate goals would be nearly impossible to achieve, and there would be significantly more extreme impacts worldwide.</p><p>A foundational experiment in every report addresses "sensitivity": If you double levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) that were in the air before the Industrial Revolution, how much warming do the models show? This doubling is not expected for a few more decades, but it is a quick way to communicate the critical role of greenhouse gases in changing the climate.</p><p>The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 35% since the 1800s because of the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, global temperatures have already increased by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit.</p><p>In the first IPCC assessment report, published in 1990, the answer to that question about the impact of doubling carbon dioxide gave a fairly wide range of results – between 2.7-8 degrees F of global warming. Since then, four more assessments issued six to seven years apart reached nearly the exact same conclusion on sensitivity.</p><p>But that sensitivity may, for the first time, change significantly in next year's assessment. Why? Because starting last year, numerous models in the CMIP6 collection displayed even bigger spikes in temperature upon doubling of CO2 concentrations. We're in serious trouble if the climate sensitivity falls in the mid or upper range of the previous assessments. But if the new, higher estimates are correct, the impacts on civilization would be catastrophic.</p>
In the above CarbonBrief interactive visualization, the bars offer a comparison in the range of sensitivity in the CMIP5 models (gray) and CMIP6 models (blue).
New and Encouraging Evidence Is Emerging<p>At first, scientists were uncertain whether the new model runs were on to something, so the international modeling community dug in to produce multiple studies. The results are not yet conclusive, but a gradual collective sigh of relief seems to be materializing.</p><p>"Evidence is emerging from multiple directions that the models which show the greatest warming in the CMIP6 ensemble are likely too warm," explains Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.</p><p>For example, <a href="https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2020-23/" target="_blank">a study</a> released April 28 evaluated the past performance of the models making up the CMIP6 ensemble. The team assigned weights to each model based upon historical performance of their warming projections, weighing the poorer performing models less. By doing so, both the mean warming and the range of warming scenarios in the CMIP6 ensemble decreased, meaning the warmest models were the ones with weaker historical performance. This result supports a finding that a subset of the models are too warm.</p><p>That conclusion is supported by another new study evaluating one particular model – the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) – that showed greater warming. Using that model, the researchers simulated the climate in the early Eocene era, about 50 million years ago, when rainforests thrived in the Arctic and Antarctic. The CESM2 simulated a historical climate that seems way too warm compared with what is known about that era from geological data, indicating that the model is likely also too warm in its future projections.</p><p>Two other recent studies of the CMIP6 models being evaluated use clever analysis methods to <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2019-86/&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNHYwFB-1KqndGfJ4sXdrrm9DpbLaQ" target="_blank">narrow the range</a> of future warming projections and also <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz9549&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNEhKY1YZ19qgjSZ_hJM14JmzqXOXw" target="_blank">reduce the projected warming</a> of the CMIP6 models by 10 to 15%.</p><p>Through the intensive research spurred by the CMIP6 climate-sensitivity curveball, scientists have been able to turn a confounding challenge into a confidence builder, providing even greater certainty than they had before in both the abilities of the climate science community and in the computer models used. Moreover, the experience has helped unearth uncertainties remaining in the modeling process.</p><p>Experts conclude much of this uncertainty probably lies in the complexity of clouds. "We have been looking as a community at why the models with greater warming are doing what they are doing – and it's tied to cloud feedbacks in the southern mid-latitudes mostly," explains Schmidt.</p><p>In fact, <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/26/eaba1981" target="_blank">a new study</a> addressing the increased sensitivity was published in Science Advances stating, "Cloud feedbacks and cloud-aerosol interactions are the most likely contributors to the high values and increased range of ECS [sensitivity] in CMIP6."</p>
Understanding the Complexity of Clouds<p>It's long been known in climate modeling circles that cloud processes and interactions are a potential weak link for climate modeling. That reality has been brought front and center by the urgent challenges posed during this CMIP6 evaluation period, but the current evaluation of models also provides an opportunity for discovery and improvement.</p><p>Cloud complexity comes from the reality that clouds have a multitude of sizes, altitudes, and textures. Some clouds cool Earth by providing shade, reflecting sunlight back into space. Others act like a blanket, trapping heat and warming the world.</p><p>Given that about <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/icesat_light.html" target="_blank">70% of the globe</a> is covered by clouds at any given time, it's no surprise that they play an integral role in regulating the climate. The challenge is to figure out which types of clouds will increase, which will decrease, and what the net effect will be on cooling or warming as the climate changes.</p><p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0310-1" target="_blank">One study</a> last year reached an alarming conclusion: Left unchecked, the release of CO2 into the atmosphere may lead to a tipping point where shallow low clouds disappear – leading to runaway, catastrophic warming of nearly 15 degrees F. While scientists see that outcome as only a remote possibility, it drives home the urgent need to better understand clouds.</p><p>"We have a saying at NOAA: It isn't rocket science – it's much, much harder than that," quips Dr. Chris Fairall, ATOMIC's lead investigator. "One of the major problems for modeling is there is not clean separation of scales." The photo below is one that Fairall took from the NOAA P-3 aircraft.</p>
Investigating the Secrets of Clouds<p>To address the urgent question about the dynamics and role of clouds in a warming world, NOAA and European partners launched their ongoing research effort unprecedented in scale. The U.S. contribution, ATOMIC – short for Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign – is an international science mission that was featured recently on "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/study-aims-to-examine-links-between-climate-change-and-clouds/" target="_blank">CBS This Morning: Saturday</a>."</p>
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