Jane Fonda Arrested During Climate Protest on U.S. Capitol Hill Steps
Oscar-award winning actress and long-time political activist Jane Fonda was arrested on the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Friday for peacefully protesting the U.S. government's inaction in combating the climate crisis, according to the AP.
Fonda, 81, was one of 16 people arrested for protesting and charged with "crowding, obstructing or incommoding" for demonstrating on the East Front of the Capitol, a misdemeanor under Washington, DC law. The city prohibits protestors from obstructing public building entrances, Capitol Police said, as The New York Times reported.
Video of Fonda's arrest appeared on social media.
The protest was part of Fire Drill Fridays, a movement Fonda launched, inspired by Greta Thunberg's Friday for Future strikes and named for the teenage activist's quote, "We have to act like our house is on fire, because it is," as Fire Drill Fridays wrote on Twitter.
On her website, Fonda said she announced that she had moved to DC and that she planned to protest every Friday until the new year.
"Inspired by Greta and the youth climate strikes as well as Reverend Barber's Moral Mondays and Randall Robinson's often daily anti-apartheid protests, I've moved to Washington, DC to be closer to the epicenter of the fight for our climate," she wrote on JaneFonda.com. "Every Friday through January, I will be leading weekly demonstrations on Capitol Hill to demand that action by our political leaders be taken to address the climate emergency we are in. We can't afford to wait."
Fonda's recently shared with the Los Angeles Times how Thunberg's commitment had inspired her into action.
"She read the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report and she realized that the crisis was barreling straight at us, like a train, and looked around and people weren't behaving appropriately," she said to the Los Angeles Times. "It so traumatized her that she stopped eating. I hadn't realized that she stopped eating and speaking for almost a year. And that really hit me."
Fonda said that every Thursday, on the eve of her protest, she will convene a panel of experts in a live stream to explain the climate crisis to interested viewers, according to the BBC. She has invited members of the Sunrise Movement — a group of young people who want to stop the climate crisis while creating millions of new jobs in a greener economy that does not rely on fossil fuels — as The Washington Post reported.
Last Monday, Fonda posted a picture to Twitter of herself at dinner with youth activists from the Sunrise Movement and the Fridays for Future climate strikes.
Fonda, who will be back on the Capitol steps next Friday, said her group wants to persuade lawmakers to support the Green New Deal, which calls for an overhaul of infrastructure and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for the U.S. economy by 2050. Ancillary to that, the demonstrators want Congress to put an end to fossil fuel exploration and to "phase out" fossil fuel infrastructure, said Ms. Fonda, as The New York Times reported.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
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