By Alexandria Villaseñor
This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.
After experiencing California's wildfires, I researched the connection between wildfires and climate change. Even though I was only 13 at the time, I realized I needed to do everything in my power to advocate for our planet and ensure that we have a safe and habitable Earth for not only my generation's future, but for future generations. Every day, our planet is increasing its calls for our help. Our ice caps are melting; sea levels are rising; heatwaves and droughts are increasing. We're seeing more frequent wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather events. Climate change is happening right now, and people all over the world are losing their livelihoods — and even their lives — as a result of the growing number of climate-fueled disasters.
My activism started with the youth climate strike movement, which began when Greta Thunberg started striking in front of the Swedish Parliament in 2018. However, I want to acknowledge that young people, especially youth of color, have been protesting and demanding action for the planet for decades. I'm honored to follow in the footsteps of all the youth activists who paved the way for my activism and for the phenomenal growth of the youth climate movement that we have seen since 2018.
My experiences in the youth climate movement have allowed me to see that one of the greatest barriers we have to urgent climate action is education. Because of the lack of climate education around the world, I founded Earth Uprising International to help young people educate one another on the climate crisis, which ultimately has the effect of empowering young people to take direct action for their futures.
The primary mission of Earth Uprising International is increased climate and civics education for youth. Climate literacy and environmental education are the first steps to mobilizing our generations. By adding climate literacy to curricula worldwide, governments can ensure young people leave school with the skills and environmental knowledge needed to be engaged citizens in their communities. A climate-educated and environmentally literate global public is more likely to take part in the green jobs revolution, make more sustainable consumer choices, and hold world leaders accountable for their climate action commitments. Youth who have been educated about the climate crisis will lead the way in adaptation, mitigation, and solution making. Youth will be the ones who will protect democracy and freedom, advocate for climate and environmental migrants, and create the political will necessary to address climate change at the scale of the crisis.
So this year, for Earth Week, I am thrilled to be organizing a global youth climate summit called "Youth Speaks: Our Message to World Leaders," on April 20. Together, in collaboration with EARTHDAY.ORG and hundreds of youth climate activists around the world, the summit will address our main issues of concern, including climate literacy, biodiversity protection, sustainable agriculture, the creation of green jobs, civic skill training, environmental justice, environmental migration and borders, the protection of democracy and free speech, governmental policy making, and political will.
From this summit, youth climate activists from all over the world will be creating a concise list of demands that we want addressed at President Biden's World Leaders Summit, occurring on Earth Day, April 22. We believe that youth must inform and inspire these critical conversations about climate change that will impact all of us!
For more information about our global youth climate summit, "Youth Speaks: Our Message to World Leaders," go to www.EarthUprising.org/YouthSpeaks2021. There, you will find information about how to participate in our summit as well as be kept up to date on the latest agenda, participants, and follow along as we develop our demands and platform.
The youth will continue to make noise and necessary trouble. There is so much left to be done.
This story originally appeared in Teen Vogue and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
A new report promoting urgent climate action in Australia has stirred debate for claiming that global temperatures will rise past 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decade.
Australia's Climate Council released the report on Thursday. The council is an independent organization of climate scientists and experts on health, renewable energy and policy who work to inform the Australian public on the climate crisis. But their latest claim is causing controversy.
"Multiple lines of evidence show that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above the preindustrial level, without significant overshoot and subsequent drawdown, is now out of reach due to past inaction," Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Prof. Christopher Field of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment wrote in the foreword. "The science is telling us that global average temperature rise will likely exceed 1.5°C during the 2030s, and that long-term stabilization at warming at or below 1.5°C will be extremely challenging."
The report is titled "Aim high, go fast: Why emissions need to plummet this decade," and as the name suggests, it is ultimately concerned with urging more robust climate action on the part of the Australian government. The report calls for the country to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2035 in order to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris agreement, which means limiting warming to well below two degrees Celsius.
"The world achieving net zero by 2050 is at least a decade too late and carries a strong risk of irreversible global climate disruption at levels inconsistent with maintaining well-functioning human societies," the authors wrote.
The report further argues that global temperatures are likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius in the 2030s based on existing temperature increases; locked-in warming from emissions that have already occurred; evidence from past climate changes and the percentage of the carbon budget that has already been used.
The report isn't a call to give up on the Paris agreement. It is possible that global temperatures could swell past 1.5 degrees Celsius but still be reduced by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Even if temperatures do exceed 1.5 degrees, every degree of warming that can be prevented makes a difference.
"Basically we can still hold temperature rise to well below 2C and do that without overshoot and drawdown," Will Steffen, lead report author from the Australian National University's Climate Change Institute, told Australia's ABC News. "Every tenth of a degree actually does matter — 1.8C is better than 1.9C, and is much better than 2C."
However, some outside scientists question both the accuracy and effectiveness of the report's claim. Both Adjunct Professor Bill Hare from Murdoch University and Dr. Carl-Freidrich Schleussner from Humboldt University told ABC News they have been trying to contact the Climate Council about its 1.5 overshoot claim for months. They said that it went against other major reports, including the UN Environment Program Gap Report and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on 1.5˚C.
"The big challenge their report reinforces is the need for urgent action to get on that 1.5C pathway, [so] it's very paradoxical to me that they've chosen to attack that target," Dr. Hare told ABC News.
However, Scientist Andy Pitman from the Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales told The Guardian that the report's assessment was correct.
"It's simply not possible to limit warming to 1.5C now," he said. "There's too much inertia in the system and even if you stopped greenhouse gas emissions today, you would still reach 1.5C [of heating]."
However, one aspect everyone agreed on involved the importance of lowering emissions as soon as possible.
"[There is] absolute fundamental agreement on the task at hand, which is to get emissions to plummet," Simon Bradshaw, report author and Climate Council head of research, told The Guardian.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
France moved one step closer this weekend to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to fight the climate crisis.
A bill prohibiting regional flights that could be replaced with an existing train journey of less than two and a half hours passed the country's National Assembly late on Saturday, as Reuters reported.
"We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions," Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Europe 1 radio, according to Reuters.
The measure now has to pass the French Senate, then return to the lower house for a final vote. It would end regional flights between Paris's Orly airport and cities like Nantes and Bordeaux, The Guardian explained. It would not, however, impact connecting flights through Paris's Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport.
The bill is part of a legislative package which aims to reduce France's emissions by 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, Reuters reported. It is a watered-down version of a proposal suggested by France's Citizens' Convention on Climate, BBC News explained. This group, which was formed by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 and included 150 ordinary citizens, had put forward a ban on flights that could be replaced with an existing train journey of under four hours.
However, the journey length was lowered after protests from KLM-Air France, which had suffered heavy losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, and regions who were concerned about being left out of national transit networks, as The Guardian explained.
"We have chosen two and a half hours because four hours risks isolating landlocked territories including the greater Massif Central, which would be iniquitous," transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said, as The Guardian reported.
However, some environmental and consumer groups objected to the changes. The organization UFC-Que Choisir compared plane routes with equivalent train journeys of under four hours and found that the plane trips emitted an average of 77 times more carbon dioxide per passenger than the train journeys. At the same time, the train alternatives were cheaper and only as much as 40 minutes longer.
"[T]he government's choice actually aims to empty the measure of its substance," the group said, according to The Guardian.
The new measure also opens the French government to charges of hypocrisy. It bailed out Air France-KLM to the tune of a seven-billion euro loan last year, though it did require the airline to drop some domestic routes as a condition. Then, days before the measure passed, it more than doubled its stake in the airline, BBC News reported. However, Pannier-Runacher insisted to Europe 1 radio that it was possible to balance fighting climate change and supporting struggling businesses.
"Equally, we must support our companies and not let them fall by the wayside," she said, as Reuters reported.
This is not the first time that climate measures and aviation bailouts have coincided in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Austrian Airlines replaced its Vienna-Salzburg flight with additional train service after it received government money dependent on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, BBC News reported.
The number of flights worldwide declined almost 42 percent in 2020 when compared with 2019. It is expected that global aviation may not fully recover until 2024, according to Reuters.
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By Sam Baker
What really makes this reporter's stomach churn thinking about climate change? Thawing permafrost. A scenario where it all melts, releasing copious amounts of CO2 and methane (it holds twice as much carbon as the atmosphere holds right now), and there's no going back.
But what's at the top of the list of concerns for those who study how climate change is unfolding – on ice sheets and urban street corners, in oceans and farm fields – the climate scientists themselves?
DW asked a dozen experts spanning climatology, entomology, oceanography and yes, permafrost research, what keeps them up at night when it comes to the climate.
The Greatest Unknown – People
Nana Ama Browne Klutse studies changing weather with climate models at the University of Ghana. While she says tipping points like permafrost thaw worry her, she also worries how individuals will handle changing climates.
"What can you do as an individual to avoid the impact of climate change?" she asked. "We need government policies for resilience, building of community, city resilience. Then we need that global action."
Climate scientist Ruth Mottram studies the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and sea level rise for the Danish Meteorological Institute, but it's not the science that worries her.
"I'm less concerned that there are unknown processes going on that we don't understand, and there could potentially be some unforeseen catastrophe on the way," she said. "We know what a lot of the impacts are going to be. I think what keeps me awake at night in a metaphorical sense is really the interaction between the physical system and how human societies are going to handle it."
Giving the example of sea level, she says we will see a meter rise this century — in our lifetimes or that of our children — and will have to make tough decisions about our coastal cities. But she says it won't end there.
"I think that human societies have not really grasped what that means and that adaptation to sea level rise is going to be a long process and we are going to be doing it for hundreds of years," said Mottram, suggesting that we start thinking in terms of the lifetimes of cities (hundreds of years) rather than just human lifetimes.
Protecting the Vulnerable
Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Permafrost Laboratory, said that while he thinks about how what happens in the Arctic will affect the rest of the world, his concerns are much more local.
"We should remember that there are still some people living in the Arctic," he said. Around 4 million people in fact who would have to deal with the real-life consequences of solid ground thawing beneath their feet and houses. "Changes in these local or regional kind of climates and environments, they impact these people and some of these impacts could be very severe."
Closer to the planet's other pole, Carolina Vera fears that existing inequalities will only be exacerbated by climate change.
"Climate change is already impacting the most vulnerable sectors of our planet," said Vera, who studies climate variability as a principal researcher for the National Council of Science of Argentina, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and chief of staff for Argentina's Ministry of Science and Technology. Her work has led her to incorporate local knowledge and data collection into studies, involving communities that are balancing the problems of deforestation with their need to farm.
Heat and New Extremes
Perhaps not surprisingly, global heating is a key concern for many researchers, like Dim Coumou, who studies extreme weather at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Of most concern to him are heat and humidity extremes in the tropics – especially highly populated parts like West Africa, Pakistan and India – which will make it unbearable to be outside. When cooling down by sweating is no longer possible, people can't work outside and therefore can't grow food. The likely result being mass migration.
But it's not just the tropics.
Closely related to heat is the increase in extreme weather brought on by a warming climate. Coumou and his colleagues' research shows how changes to the jet stream will lead to more extreme weather in Europe, including floods and droughts.
This increase in extreme weather is climate scientist Abubakr Salih Babiker's biggest climate concern.
"A warmer atmosphere can hold more water in it and when it rains, it rains heavily leading to floods. A warmer ocean can lead to stronger tropical cyclones," said Babiker, who works for the East African Climate Center ICPAC in Nairobi. He explained that cyclones gain more energy from warmer water.
"We have seen evidence of all these events," he said. "The strongest tropical cyclones to impact the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, and Mozambique occurred in the past 20 years!"
Science for Solutions
Pests, drought and flooding are on Esther Ngumbi's mind too.
An entomologist and professor of African American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she said that what keeps her up at night is the thought: "How can my science truly help?"
Ngumbi's work on pest and drought-resistant crops is driven by her concerns for vulnerable farmers who live in countries lacking social safety nets, where one season of crop devastation due to insects can mean going hungry and being unable to pay for their children's education.
"That truly makes me wake up every day and go to the lab to understand how my research can contribute to solutions that we need," she said.
Natasha Picone – an urban climatologist at the National University of Central Buenos Aires – says it's the solutions that occupy her thoughts too.
"With the pandemic, I realized that we are not doing enough for changing our cities to be more livable," she said. Her research informs urban planners about phenomena such as the urban heat island effect, air pollution and urban run-off that can lead to flooding. "If we don't change the path now, it will be really difficult to go back."
Weighing on the mind of oceanographer Renata Hanae Nagai at the University of Parana in Brazil is her four-year-old nephew and what his life will look like in a warmer world, but he also gives her hope. During a recent trip to the beach to watch nesting turtles, he warned others to leave the turtles alone.
She sees this same care in her students – learning about problems and coming up with solutions.
"People are the solution," she said. "We try, even under the hardest conditions."
'Scientists are Humans' Too
"For me, that's like morally totally unacceptable what they do – they lie," said the climate physicist from Maynooth University in Ireland, reflecting on encountering such people at public talks. "I mean, you can't argue with climate."
But this only pushes Caesar to better communicate what the science shows.
They Worry About Us
A common thread of this (rather unscientific) survey is that while we laypeople might be worrying about what the science says, climate scientists are often worrying about us.
"Scientists always think about what are the results of their studies, how are they important for, you know, for usual people, for normal people," the permafrost scientist told me. While doing his research, Romanovsky said he's always thinking about "how this could be used to make life of people easier or more predictable."
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
Maine State Senator Chloe Maxmin doesn't identify as a "traditional Democrat."
She has a good reason for this: "I don't really trust the government," she told EcoWatch. "I haven't trusted our government throughout how it's responded to COVID and I don't trust it in terms of how it's going to respond to the climate crisis."
Sen. Maxmin was elected to represent Maine's 13th Senate District this past November. Two years prior, she was elected to the Maine House of Representatives, serving as the 88th District's first-ever Democrat, where she won by canvassing the historically conservative district and talking to people regardless of their political affiliation.
Sen. Maxmin's love for home on her family's farm in Nobleboro, Maine, inspires her work in community organizing, climate advocacy and uplifting the rural voice in electoral politics — a perspective she believes the left abandoned, she wrote in The Nation during her first campaign.
But in a politically divided state that is warming faster than most parts of the U.S., Sen. Maxmin works to implement climate policy that both sides of the political spectrum can get behind. In early March, she introduced the Pine Tree Amendment, which would secure state citizens the right to a healthy environment in Maine's constitution.
The amendment's introduction follows a growing movement that's led by Maya K. van Rossum, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and founder of the Green Amendments For The Generations, a nonprofit organization that inspires states to amend their constitutions to give every person inalienable rights to "pure water, clean air, a stable climate and healthy environments."
In 2019, two constituents brought the idea for a green amendment to Sen. Maxmin, who liked the idea of including the rights to clean air and water in the state's constitution because it was "much more foundational" than the volatile environmental laws being discussed in the state's capital.
So far, Montana and Pennsylvania are the only states to include green amendments in their state constitutions, but popularity around the movement is growing and similar amendments are being proposed in various states, including New York, New Mexico and Oregon. While the movement's goal is to build enough momentum to implement environmental rights at a federal level, van Rossum said the movement requires the foundation of multiple building blocks — first starting at the local level.
"If we can go state by state, not only are we going to be educating and organizing and building the foundation for the successful passage of a federal amendment at the right time, but in the interim, we will be harnessing the power of the bill of rights section of our state constitutions for the benefit of environmental protection and the people," van Rossum told EcoWatch.
The movement hasn't avoided critics, however, who will ask van Rossum, "What does it mean to have clean water?" since the terminology can be broad. Van Rossum explained that the green amendments put the rights to clean air, water and a healthy environment on par with the rights to free speech and religious freedom.
"Broad language is a characteristic of the bill of rights amendments," she told EcoWatch, adding that the language must provide both a level of guidance and enough flexibility for government officials and courts.
In 2013, van Rossum and her team used Pennsylvania's green amendment to win a legal battle against a pro-fracking law. The victory proved the amendment worked, "even in a pro-fracking state with a very conservative court in place, at the time," van Rossum told EcoWatch. And in Montana, the green amendment has been used to rescind a permit for industrial gold mining.
But the amendments do more than protect basic rights to clean air and water, van Rossum explained, adding that they can also empower communities to take ownership over their natural resources. When people's environmental rights are written into the constitution, rural communities that have a deep personal relationship with natural resources can raise their expectations of the government's ability to protect those rights. "This is really returning the power to the people, because we always have to remember that fundamentally the constitution is about the people telling government how they want them to behave," van Rossum said.
This is especially valuable for rural Mainers who are increasingly impacted by climate change but may be resistant to environmental legislation for "really good reasons," Sen. Maxmin added.
"The legacy of climate policy in rural communities has been kind of a heavy-handed government ideology that does not reflect the realities of our rural lives," Sen. Maxmin told EcoWatch, referencing current offshore wind development projects being proposed off of the Gulf of Maine. Fishing communities consider the projects to be controversial, claiming they would jeopardize lobster fishing zones.
Bills such as the Pine Tree Amendment are unique since they don't "impact one person more than the other," Sen. Maxmin said, adding that the amendment is a valuable stepping-off point for future climate policy.
In Maine, the amendment has received bipartisan support from the Legislature's Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. It now faces votes in both the Maine Senate and House of Representatives, where it requires a two-thirds majority approval and approval from the majority of Maine voters.
At the very least, van Rossum stressed how green amendments can encourage important conversations across states and local communities. "There is something intellectually and emotionally very deeply empowering and touching for people when you are talking about their water and their air," she told EcoWatch. "It's just so personal."
Senator Maxmin hopes that the Pine Tree Amendment can encourage further discussion on what a fair clean energy transition will look like, specifically for the frontline communities who would traditionally be displaced from an energy transition. "No matter what, the Pine Tree Amendment gives us all the equal rights, the equal foundation and the equal footing to have these conversations," she concluded.
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Three hundred years ago in 1723, Antonio Vivaldi composed "The Four Seasons," a series of violin concertos inspired by the natural world. Now, scientists, composers and designers have reimagined the classic to help envision what the future might feel like in 2050 — a world forever changed by the climate crisis.
Tim Devine, executive creative director of AKQA, the design firm that masterminded the project, told EcoWatch, "On the surface, the original Four Seasons is about weather and seasonal variation, but it is very much about our human relationship to the world. That's what makes it a great fit for the narratives that climate science tells us the future could be like."
The collaborators on the updated Vivaldi score used algorithms to predict specific impacts of global warming in 2050, and to interpret those changes in sonic terms. The result is "The [Uncertain] Four Seasons." In it, they explored how to "derive a lived experience of climate science predictions for RCP 8.5 in 2050," Devine explained. (RCP 8.5 is an emissions scenario for global warming.)
Hugh Crosthwaite, the composer of the piece, told EcoWatch, "The data tells us things are looking grim. Without urgent and profound action, the world will be absolutely and starkly diminished."
According to the United Nations (UN), "No corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of climate change." These include environmental degradation, mass extinctions, natural disasters, extreme weather, Arctic melting, sea-level rise, acidifying and warming oceans and wildfires. The human impact will range from food and water insecurity to economic disruption, conflict and terrorism, the UN warned.
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra played their local variation of "The [Uncertain] Four Seasons" — with intense heat, biodiversity die-offs and protracted storms — for Syd Fest. Yaya Stempler / AKQA
Because climate change will have disparate effects around the globe, the team also created roughly 1,000 unique scores, personalized for every major orchestra on the planet. These are based on regional weather models, geospatial datasets and UN IPCC reports on climate change. For example, in Shanghai, which is predicted to be underwater by 2050, the concerto is full of rests and silence.
By comparing the human experience of each season in the future with Vivaldi's depictions, the team created a dire warning of what's to come. For example, Vivaldi's original included birdsong to represent spring, along with other elements that represented each of the seasons he appreciated. In almost satiric parallel, the updated version has removed birdsong notes based on data about declining bird populations and species collapse. "The more at risk a place is the greater the reduction of notes," Devine told EcoWatch.
Meanwhile, allusions to soft, summer storms have an ultra-Locrian scale (based on dissonant cords) to reinforce discomfort. Drawn-out repetitions of lightning and thunder representations match what the data indicates about rising sea surface temperatures increasing storm intensity.
"[A]t first, the storms sound intense, but with further repetition, their intensity normalizes and they lose their initial jolt," Devine said. This mimics how extreme weather has already become more frequent
.Devine told Yale Climate Connections, "We really wanted to walk that line between being too ridiculously catastrophic and kind of meaningfully changing this to make it sound what we think it might feel like to live in that time."
"For me, the whole of the works is greater than the sum of the individual changes," explained Crosthwaite. "This is important to me because it will be the whole of the changes [due to the climate crisis] that we will experience and future generations will be forced to endure."
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra played their local variation of "The [Uncertain] Four Seasons" — with intense heat, biodiversity die-offs and protracted storms — for Syd Fest. Yaya Stempler / AKQA
Music turned out to be a perfect medium for the two to share their climate message because it's "a very human thing," according to Devine. It can breathe life into stark climate data and facts. As a composer, Crosthwaite uses music to conjure a wide range of feelings and ideas. He said of the sonnets, "I feel they really capture, directly, the impact of climate science through art. We have created a modern lens through which to see Vivaldi's world and the impact of climate change."
For listeners, the familiar-but-unsettling tune serves as a warning about how the world could feel if nothing is done to prevent the worst-case scenario. Crosthwaite hopes that his audiences will leave with a profound emotional experience that motivates urgent climate action.
AKQA exists "to create a better future," Devine said. The company has worked on several projects to further the collective understanding of climate change, and how to change and reframe human behaviors. In particular, "The [Uncertain] Four Seasons" is aimed at COP26 and getting more leaders to sign the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, Devine explained.
Devine concluded, "The challenge is not awareness of climate change. We're all aware of the science. The challenge is action. What are we doing? What are our governments and businesses doing? The [Uncertain] Four Seasons is a creative act, a response to the science. Its intention is to create more noise in communities around the world so that their local and national leaders feel more responsibility to act. COP26 is that opportunity."
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By Jessica Corbett
While scientists and campaigners continue calling on world leaders to pursue more ambitious policies to cut planet-heating emissions based on moral arguments and physical dangers, a U.S. think tank released survey results on Tuesday that make a clear economic case for sweeping climate action.
The Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law invited 2,169 Ph.D. economists to take a 15-question online survey "focused on climate change risks, economic damage estimates, and emissions abatement," according to a report on the results. Nearly three-quarters of the 738 economists who participated in the survey say they agree that "immediate and drastic action is necessary."
"In sharp contrast, less than 1% believe that climate change is 'not a serious problem,'" the report says, noting a jump in support for bold climate action now compared with a 2015 survey. "Nearly 80% of respondents also self-report an increase in their level of concern about climate change over the past five years, underscoring the high level of overall concern among this group."
Just out: an impressive new international survey of 738 economists with expertise in climate by @NYULaw… https://t.co/eHGdjvMLHl— Dana Nuccitelli (@Dana Nuccitelli)1617120585.0
Of those surveyed, 76% believe the climate crisis will likely or very likely have a negative effect on global economic growth rates. Additionally, 70% think climate change will make income inequality worse within most countries and 89% think it will exacerbate inequality between high-income and low-income countries.
"People who spend their careers studying our economy are in widespread agreement that climate change will be expensive, potentially devastatingly so," said Peter Howard, economics director at the institute and co-author of the research, in a statement. "These findings show a clear economic case for urgent climate action."
As the report details:
Respondents were asked to estimate the economic impacts of several different climate scenarios. They project that economic damages from climate change will reach $1.7 trillion per year by 2025, and roughly $30 trillion per year (5% of projected GDP) by 2075 if the current warming trend continues. Their damage estimates rise precipitously as warming intensifies, topping $140 trillion annually at a 5°C increase and $730 trillion at a 7°C increase. As expected, experts believe that the risk of extremely high/catastrophic damages significantly increases at these high temperatures.
Sixty-six percent of respondents "agree that the benefits of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would likely outweigh the costs," compared with just 12% who disagree. As the report says: "Costs are often cited as a reason to delay or avoid strong action on climate change, but this survey of hundreds of expert economists suggests that the weight of evidence is on the side of rapid action."
The economists also foresee a "rapid expansion of clean energy technologies" in the coming decades, and 65% of respondents expect the costs of emerging zero-emission and negative-emission tech will drop rapidly, similar to the recent developments with solar and wind energy. While a majority also expects negative-emission technologies will become viable in the second half of the century, the report notes that "a very high percentage of 'No Opinion' responses underscores the uncertainty of this projection."
Our global survey of over 700 economists gathered expert views on a series of key climate change questions. The ov… https://t.co/ftp9Ix3Sbq— Institute for Policy Integrity (@Institute for Policy Integrity)1617113684.0
"Economists overwhelmingly support rapid emissions reductions, and they are optimistic about key technology costs continuing to drop," said co-author Derek Sylvan, strategy director at the institute. "There is a clear consensus among these experts that the status quo seems far more costly than a major energy transition."
The survey comes as governments party to the Paris agreement are revising and releasing emissions pledges for the next decade ahead of a global summit in November. A United Nations report recently warned that the pledges put forth so far are dramatically inadequate. As Power Shift Africa director Mohamed Adow said: "It's staggering how far off track countries are to dealing with the climate crisis."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Andrea Germanos
Climate action groups and ocean defenders issued strong praise Monday after the Biden administration announced its intention to boost the nation's offshore wind capacity with a number of steps including preparing forfede leases in an area off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
"Today's announcement marks a revolutionary moment for offshore wind. This powerful renewable resource has been waiting in the wings of our energy system for too long, and now it can finally take center stage," Hannah Read, an associate with Environment America's Go Big on Offshore Wind campaign, told Common Dreams.
Taken together, the initiatives will create 77,000 jobs, generate enough electricity to power over 10 million homes for a year, and avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, according to the administration.
The plan would general 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030—a capacity that would surpass the roughly 19 GW predicted in 2019 by some industry analysts. As NBC News noted, the nation's offshore wind capacity is largely untapped:
[W]hile on-land wind farms have flourished in recent years, offshore wind has yet to take off in a significant way, in part due to bureaucratic and permitting hurdles that were a source of major frustration for renewable energy companies during the Trump administration. As of now, the U.S. has only one operational offshore commercial wind farm, with just five turbines.
According to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, making up for such inaction is urgent.
"For generations," Haaland said in a statement, "we've put off the transition to clean energy and now we're facing a climate crisis."
Although "every community is facing more extreme weather and the costs associated with that," Haaland said that "not every community has the resources to rebuild, or even get up and relocate when a climate event happens in their backyards." She noted that the "climate crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income families."
"As our country faces the interlocking challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, and the climate crisis, we must transition to a brighter future for everyone," said Haaland.
Among steps announced by the Interior, Commerce, and Energy departments were a data sharing agreement between NOAA and offshore wind development company Ørsted Wind Power North America to help development of infrastructure; the identification of nearly 800,000 acres in the shallow ocean triangle known as the New York Bight to be "Wind Energy Areas"; $8 million for 15 new offshore wind research and development projects; and notice that BOEM would launch an Environmental Impact Statement for Ocean Wind's proposed 1,100 megawatt facility off the coast of New Jersey.
"The ocean energy bureau said it will push to sell commercial leases in the area in late 2021 or early 2022," the Associated Press reported.
@SecDebHaaland @SecGranholm @SecRaimondo @SecretaryPete @ginamccarthy46 It’s a bit buried, but here’s the final map… https://t.co/TBdHTFQOdl— Brett Edkins (@Brett Edkins)1617040318.0
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.)—who's previously introduced legislation to incentivize offshore wind—framed the development as "a sea change in American energy policy and a new day in the fight against climate change."
"This is a down-payment on our national future for our children and their children after them," Pascrell tweeted.
Read, with Environment America, said the administration's announcement could serve as a major catalyst.
"The potential to power our country using clean, renewable energy off our coasts is immense, and the Biden administration's commitment forges a path to take full advantage of offshore wind. This federal leadership should give states the confidence to continue making bold commitments to go big on offshore wind. Now that the executive branch is throwing its weight behind timely and ambitious development, it's full-steam ahead," she said.
The news also drew praise from climate group 350.org, which, like Haaland, put the announcement in the context of the multiple crises gripping the nation.
"This is the type of climate action we need from the Biden administration: major investment in renewable energy that creates thousands of good-paying union jobs," the group's U.S. communications director Thanu Yakupitiyage said in a statement.
"In this moment of compounding health, economic, racial, and climate crises," Yakupitiyage continued, "it's beyond time to get our country off fossil fuels and on track towards a renewable future that centers the working class and communities of color."
For Oceana, the administration's good news for offshore wind must be matched with an equally important element—a forceful departure from dirty energy.
"We applaud the Biden-Harris administration helping to make offshore wind a reality in the United States—a necessary step in our climate strategy," said Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer with the group, adding that it must also have "strong protections for ocean habitat, especially for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale."
But for "the U.S. to successfully take full advantage of this unlimited resource that can help solve our climate and energy challenges, Oceana is calling for permanent protections from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling as well," Savitz added.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Cities around the globe dimmed their lights for an hour on Saturday, to mark Earth Hour. The annual event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) encourages countries to dim their lights for an hour starting at 8:30 p.m. local time.
This year, organizers said they wanted to highlight the link between the destruction of nature and increasing outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19.
Experts are of the opinion that human activity, such as widespread deforestation, destruction of animals' habitats and climate change, is spurring an increase in the incidence of disease, and warn more pandemics could occur if nothing is done.
Cities Across the World Go Dark
The Asia Pacific kicked off the event, by turning off their lights at night time. New Zealand was the first to do so, with Auckland's Sky Tower and Wellington's parliament buildings switching off their power.
In Europe, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, Paris' Eiffel Tower, and the Vatican's Saint Peter's Basilica also hit the light switch. Other cities that celebrated included Tokyo, Sydney, Moscow, New Delhi, and London.
"#EarthHour reminds us that small actions can make a great difference for our planet," tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
"Whether it is a decline in pollinators, fewer fish in the ocean and rivers, disappearing forests or the wider loss of biodiversity, the evidence is mounting that nature is in free fall. Protecting nature is our moral responsibility but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change, and threatens our food security," said Marco Lambertini, director-general of the WWF.
"One hour is not enough for us to remember that climate change is actually a problem — I don't really see (Earth Hour) as very significant," he added.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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By Nicole Greenfield
The climate crisis disproportionately impacts women—and women of color in particular. This is why women must lead on its solutions.
Last fall, two powerful hurricanes, Eta and Iota, slammed into Central America within two weeks of each other, causing massive flooding and landslides and affecting millions of people, primarily in Honduras and Nicaragua. Thousands were uprooted from their homes, and women, many with children in tow, suffered the greatest. The events followed a disturbing but familiar trend: The United Nations estimates that 80 percent of people displaced by climate change are women. And it's not just storms that affect them; researchers in India have found that droughts, too, hit women the hardest, rendering them more vulnerable than men to income loss, food insecurity, water scarcity, and related health complications.
"The climate crisis is not gender neutral," says Katharine K. Wilkinson, coeditor of the anthology All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, a book of essays and poems written entirely by women contributors. "It grows out of a patriarchal system that is also entangled with racism and white supremacy and extractive capitalism. And the unequal impacts of climate change are making it harder to achieve a gender-equal world."
In the face of this reality, the world needs to embrace a feminist approach to tackling the climate crisis, she adds. That includes a collective mission to shift who is leading the way on solutions to the crisis, and what the approach will be.
A Multiplier of Injustice
"The intersections of climate and justice and feminism include the disproportionate impact of climate change and the entire climate continuum on women," says Jacqueline Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. "We also add the race lens, of course, and the additional risks that are unique to BIPOC women and, most specifically, Black women."
Climate change developed in an unjust world, and now it's exacerbating the vulnerabilities and inequalities experienced by women, particularly those who live in rural areas or the Global South and those who are Black, Indigenous, or other people of color. Patterson reflects on this injustice in the essay "At the Intersections," which appears in the All We Can Save collection. She opens with an anecdote about the first time she saw racism, misogyny, and poverty collide with environmental issues as a Peace Corps volunteer in her father's homeland of Jamaica. Later in her career, as a human rights activist working internationally to combat HIV/AIDS and gender injustice, Patterson learned the story of a woman who left her native Cameroon because the crops in her community had dried up, only to become a victim of rape and then to contract HIV at the country's border. "These stories drew my tears," she writes. "There is a pandemic of devastating impacts at the intersection between violence against women and climate change."
These days in her environmental justice work with the NAACP, Patterson is committed to ensuring that communities in "grindingly desperate circumstances, communities that aren't even thought about," like those without running water or electricity, for example, aren't left out of the climate conversation. And that means not just including them, but deliberately prioritizing them and ensuring their voices are heard on all levels. She asks, "How do we make sure we don't continue with the ills of the past in terms of assuming the rising tide will lift all boats?"
“A Feminist Climate Renaissance”
According to Wilkinson, these injustices of the climate crisis also highlight a leadership crisis. What we truly need, she and All We Can Save coeditor Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist, write, is a "feminist climate renaissance." Without this, a just and liveable future becomes impossible. "Research shows that women's leadership and equal participation result in better outcomes for climate policy, reducing emissions, and protecting land," Wilkinson adds.
Indeed, many of today's most influential climate leaders are women. On the international stage, Christiana Figueres, as the head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was the architect of the historic 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which in its preamble called out the need to empower women in climate decision making. Celebrities like Jane Fonda have brought attention to the climate crisis through civil disobedience and Fire Drill Fridays—inspired, of course, by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and the powerful Fridays for Future movement she began. Female government officials are likewise leading on climate. New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, recently declared a climate change emergency and committed her country to going carbon-neutral by 2025. Meanwhile in the United States, representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the visionary behind the Green New Deal, a plan for the country to move away from fossil fuels and toward a clean-energy future. And over the past few years, groups like the Sunrise Movement, led by Varshini Prakash, have done critical work inserting the climate crisis into American public discourse.
Wilkinson and Johnson see four main characteristics shared by leaders like these. First and foremost, they prioritize making change over being in charge. "We need to get over ego, competition, and control—all that patriarchal, supremacist, hierarchical stuff that gets in the way, burns a lot of energy, and keeps us from collaborating," Wilkinson says.
Feminist climate leaders also tend to have a deep commitment to justice and equality. Having emotional intelligence is necessary, too. "This is the biggest challenge humanity has ever grappled with, and we're not going to solve it from our prefrontal cortex alone," Wilkinson declares. "We need to come to this as whole human beings. And that means the grief, the uncertainty, the rage, the anxiety, but also the really ferocious love."
Last, feminist climate leaders recognize that building community is a prerequisite for building a better world. Community holds incredible wisdom, while "individualism comes up short on good ideas, and certainly on a sense of purpose and joy," Wilkinson says. Nurturing that sense of community in the broad climate movement is often a first step, especially when uniting allies from disparate groups. As Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy founder Colette Pichon Battle advises, before diverse groups of women can stand on the front lines together, they must heal the relationships and reconcile the unjust social dynamics that exist between their various communities.
The good news is that women are uniquely prepared to take on this social and environmental healing work. "Women have had to develop a coping and a nurturing set of skills in order to see the survival of our families," Patterson says, adding that caring for a family under the most dire of circumstances has been bred into the DNA of Black women, who carry the trauma of slavery. "Women have just had to," she says.
For her part, Wilkinson says that she sees evidence of the growth and power of the feminist climate ecosystem every time she turns around. Leaders in the youth climate justice movement embody these characteristics, and increasing numbers of women are getting a seat at the national table (including former NRDC president Gina McCarthy, another All We Can Save contributor, who is now steering domestic climate policy from the White House). "There are lots of signs that this galloping herd is getting bigger and faster and stronger. And that gives me a lot of courage," Wilkinson says.
Power and Joy
For their nonprofit All We Can Save Project, Wilkinson and Johnson have developed a 2030 vision for women leading on climate to hold the power to create transformational change and experience deep joy in their work. Their community-minded approach to solving the climate crisis prioritizes the collective lifting of one another's spirits and helps build momentum—both of which serve as an antidote to the gloom that can sometimes consume the lone climate warrior. "We're really into this idea of power and joy," Wilkinson explains. "Power is what you need to make change happen. And joy is frankly what you need to keep showing up every day."
With climate feminists at the helm, more resources and investments could be procured for the transformational climate work that cisgender and trans women and nonbinary leaders are already doing—developing solutions, researching and writing, doing community organizing—often at night or on the weekends. These leaders and their teams can also serve as examples and mentors for emerging climate feminists of all genders and ages.
And of course, men can be climate feminists too. "There's a really important role for men, and I think it starts with listening," Wilkinson says. "And when we consider core approaches to climate leadership, things like compassion, connection, creativity, collaboration, care, a commitment to justice, all of that is open to people of any gender." She notes that men in positions of power—whether they control funding or platforms or lead an institution—can be more intentional in helping to change the face of climate leadership. They can extend invitations to more women and to others from diverse backgrounds to bring forth ideas and lead projects, or they can step back and let others make decisions and set the vision.
Such collaborative work is increasingly urgent. "Even now, at the 11th hour for climate action, so many people in power are denying, blocking, and delaying, or putting forward hollow promises about what they're going to do," says Wilkinson. "It's absolutely devastating. But I do think the tide is turning. I think we will win."
She adds that Ireland's former and first female president Mary Robinson sums up the situation perfectly with the tagline to her Mothers of Invention podcast: "Climate change is a man-made problem—with a feminist solution!"
Reposted with permission from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
On Saturday, March 27, people around the world will celebrate the annual Earth Hour, albeit in a slightly different way.
This annual tradition, first launched by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and its partners in Sydney in 2007, involves participants from more than 180 countries switching off their lights on the last Saturday in March in order to call attention to the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. This year, the organizers are adding something extra: a virtual spotlight that can be shined on the Earth by sharing their video.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, is among the major landmarks that will turn off its lights for Earth Hour on March 27, 2021. Antoine Antoniol / Getty Images
"Our goal is simple," organizers wrote. "Put the spotlight on our planet and make it the most watched video in the world on March 27 (or beyond!) so that as many people as possible hear our message."
The virtual spotlight comes about a year into the coronavirus pandemic, as many countries remain under some type of safety regulation. While COVID-19 necessitates an online celebration, it also reflects the importance of protecting the natural world.
"Protecting nature is our moral responsibility but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change, and threatens our food security," WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said in a press release. "We must stop taking nature for granted, respect its intrinsic value, and — importantly — value the crucial services it provides to our health, wellbeing and economy."
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. 🕣The time has finally come as #EarthHour is in 2 days! Here’s how to take part in our Virt… https://t.co/jNddKv6lAK— Earth Hour Official (@Earth Hour Official)1616645400.0
This year's Earth Hour also comes at a crucial moment in the international push to protect the world's plants and animals. In a few months, world leaders will gather in Kunming, China, for the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Scientists, activists and the UN are hoping the summit will result in an agreement to protect 30 percent of land and oceans by 2030.
Earth Hour said they hoped their video would build momentum toward this conference. At the same time, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recorded a video in support of Earth Hour.
"In this make or break year, let your actions and voices send a clear message to leaders everywhere," Guterres said. "Now is the time to be bold and ambitious. Let's show the world that we are determined to protect the one home we all share."
This year's Earth Hour will also include the traditional lights-out celebration. Major landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Colosseum in Rome, Sydney Opera House and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, will all go dark. Anyone can join by simply turning off lights for an hour beginning at 8:30 p.m. local time.
To participate online, keep an eye on Earth Hour's pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and share the video when it drops. It can be added to a social media story, reposted or even sent in private messages.
'We urgently need to take action to prevent further degradation of our natural world, for securing our own future," John Kani, an actor and environmentalist who will lend his voice to the video, said in the press release. "Join me this Earth Hour when we collectively raise our voice for nature to secure a greener, healthier future for all."
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Last year, COVID-19 lockdowns forced many restaurants to close and events to be canceled at the last minute, so a lot of food that was already purchased stood to be wasted.
"There were a lot of businesses that were faced with that harsh reality that they just had so much food that could not be utilized," says Phil Acosta of Aloha Harvest, a Hawaiian food rescue organization.
The group quickly mobilized to collect that food and distribute it to people in need.
As the pandemic wore on, chefs whose restaurants were closed rushed to help meet the growing demand. Aloha Harvest partnered with an organization called Chef Hui.
"And we started to prepare foods and get that out to the community – so, ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat type of meals," Acosta says.
Rescuing food not only helps feed people. It can also reduce global warming pollution because less food needs to be grown, packaged, and shipped. And less waste ends up rotting in landfills and releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
"We want to make sure that everything that's produced is consumed in some way and not wasted," Acosta says. "We need to do a much better job of utilizing our precious food resources."
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.