Quantcast

5 Earth Conscious Women to Honor on International Women's Day

The Women's March, Jan. 19, 2019. The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

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:


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."

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.

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.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less
The head of England's Environment Agency has urged people to stop watering their lawns as a climate-induced water shortage looms. Pexels

England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A flock of parrots in Telegraph Hill, San Francisco. ~dgies / Flickr

By Madison Dapcevich

Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.

Read More Show Less
Fire burns in the North Santiam State Recreational Area on March 19. Oregon Department of Forestry

An early-season wildfire near Lyons, Oregon burned 60 acres and forced dozens of homes to evacuate Tuesday evening, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said, as KTVZ reported.

The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.

Read More Show Less
Edwin Hardeman is the plaintiff in the first U.S. federal trial claiming that Roundup causes cancer. NOAH BERGER / AFP / Getty Images

A second U.S. jury has ruled that Roundup causes cancer.

The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The decision comes less than a year after a jury awarded $289 million to Bay-area groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson over similar claims. The amount was later reduced to $78 million.

"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."

Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.

"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."

Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.

However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.

"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.

Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.

Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.

"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.

Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.