'Insult to Our Young People's Future': UK Budget Neglects Climate Crisis
By Jake Johnson
While British Prime Minister Theresa May's Autumn budget rollout was accompanied by much fanfare and lofty promises—"the era of austerity is finally coming to an end," proclaimed UK Finance Minister Philip Hammond—the specifics of the budget detailed on Monday were met with a mixture of disgust and alarm by the Labour Party and environmentalists, who argued that the plan is stuffed with "half measures" and tax cuts for the rich but zero policies to address the human-caused climate crisis.
Highlighting May's recent speech declaring that deep cuts to public spending are over, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn excoriated May and Hammond for delivering a "broken promise budget" that vows "quick fixes while austerity grinds on."
"Far from people's hard work and sacrifices having paid of ... this government has frittered it away in ideological tax cuts to the richest in our society," Corbyn said. "The government claims austerity has worked so now they can end it. That is absolutely the opposite of the truth—austerity needs to end because it has failed."
Austerity is not over. #Budget2018 https://t.co/wEWegAwuZS— Jeremy Corbyn (@Jeremy Corbyn)1540837455.0
Just ahead of May's big budget unveil, the Labour Party tweeted out a video that portrays May and her cabinet as cruel plutocrats and condemns their record of slashing life-saving programs for vulnerable in order to deliver massive gifts to the ultra-wealthy.
It's time for change. #Budget2018 https://t.co/tqWqrkD38y— Jeremy Corbyn (@Jeremy Corbyn)1540809110.0
Though May's Autumn budget does call for some increases in social spending, critics said these boosts will not be nearly enough to recover from years of Tory austerity.
While touting the budget's proposed increase in education spending, Hammond boasted that schools will now be able to afford "the little extras they need"—a remark that was quickly denounced as an insult to British schools that are facing massive teacher shortages and cutting hours due to lack of funds.
"Cannot believe how out of touch this government is," Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the UK Green Party, wrote on Twitter. "Schools don't just need money for 'little extras'—they are struggling to pay staff, upkeep buildings, and provide vital support to children with special needs."
The grassroots left-wing group Momentum added that, in May's budget, "schools are getting less money than the pot hole fund."
"We have oversized classes, lack of basic stationery, and a cap on teachers' pay," the group wrote on Twitter. "Your budget is an insult to our young people's future."
Your austerity programme has cut vital support for the most vulnerable, shattered education budgets and left our ho… https://t.co/eXRxE6koAP— Momentum (@Momentum)1540817680.0
May's budget was similarly denounced by environmentalists as an appalling insult to the planet, given that—in his speech detailing the Autumn budget—Hammond didn't bother to mention the climate crisis once.
Hammond did, however, announce that the budget will maintain special tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
"Three weeks since the world's leading climate scientists said governments have just 12 years to turn the tide on the catastrophic and irreversible consequences of climate change, the chancellor has delivered a budget that reads as though he missed the memo," Greenpeace UK declared on Twitter, referencing a recent United Nations report warning that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avert global catastrophe.
Preferential treatment for North Sea oil & gas, keeping the freeze on fuel duty and trimming aviation tax send all… https://t.co/4FpOgmyo0T— Greenpeace UK (@Greenpeace UK)1540833181.0
"It's unforgivable that Hammond failed to even mention climate change," concluded Lucas of the Green Party. "It's not clear what planet Hammond is living on—because he's certainly doing nothing to protect those of us living on this one. His deluded budget was built on a fantasy future where the technical revolution will solve all of society's problems. Our children will never forgive him."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.
For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
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By Jeff Berardelli
Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020
If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.
<div id="ecf36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2dcc9d48a6cd61f247df1544539a783"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290959314132361216" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Naming heatwaves is a good idea—making the abstract concrete, the invisible visible. Why should hurricanes and wild… https://t.co/hDWgYb79Ob</div> — Ed Maibach (@Ed Maibach)<a href="https://twitter.com/MaibachEd/statuses/1290959314132361216">1596623660.0</a></blockquote></div>
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