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Teen Climate Activist to Crowd of Thousands: 'We Can't Save the World by Playing by the Rules'
By Jessica Corbett
Addressing some 10,000 people in Helsinki on Saturday at what some campaigners are calling Finland's largest ever climate demonstration, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg urged marchers to fight for the major systemic changes that experts have said are necessary to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert a looming climate catastrophe.
"Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground, so we can't save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change. Everything needs to change and it has to start today," declared the Swedish teenager, who traveled to the capital city of her nation's Nordic neighbor for Saturday's massive march.
"A lot of people say that Sweden or Finland are just small countries and that it doesn't matter what we do," Thunberg added. "But I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to."
Thunberg garnered international media attention when, ahead of Sweden's September election, she refused to attend school and instead protested outside the Swedish parliament, handing out educational pamphlets to passersby. Now that the election has passed, the self-described "climate radical" and others who have joined the strike return to school for four days each week but still protest on Fridays.
"We young people don't have the vote, but school is obligatory," she told The Local in August. "So this a way to get our voices heard."
At her "now-famous" protest spot and in interviews with the press, Thunberg has stuck to the same message she delivered Saturday about the necessity of a rapid global shift away from fossil fuels and toward sustainable energy sources.
"I think the election didn't matter," she said to The New Yorker about Sweden's latest batch of political races. "The climate is not going to collapse because some party got the most votes. The politics that's needed to prevent the climate catastrophe—it doesn't exist today. We need to change the system, as if we were in crisis, as if there were a war going on."
Thunberg's recent actions have been celebrated by climate activists including 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who highlighted the march and thanked the teen for her leadership in a tweet on Saturday:
The thousands of people who participated in Saturday's "The Time to Act is Now!" demonstration are demanding that politicians from all of Finland's parties commit to cutting off subsidies for fossil fuels by 2020 and totally outlawing dirty energy by 2035, according to the local chapter of Greenpeace, which helped organize the event.
Helsinki University researcher Tero Toivonen told Yle News that the unexpectedly high turnout for demonstration—which featured a march from Helsinki's Senate Square to the parliament building—suggests that the public is starting to realize the urgency of the climate crisis.
"Everyone has joined in the demand that something needs to be done now. We are definitely seeing more talk like this from the politicians," he said.
The demonstration comes on the heels of a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the United Nations' leading body for climate science—detailing what the world could look like if the global temperature rises to 1.5°C and underscoring the need for "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented" efforts worldwide to prevent "climate catastrophe."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.