Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Climate strike: Schoolchildren protest over climate change
- Surge in US economists’ support for carbon tax to tackle emissions
- Climate protesters disrupt London fashion week by blocking roads
- UK fracking industry pushes for review of earthquake limits
- The school climate change strikes are inspiring – but they should shame us
- Florida is drowning. Condos are still being built. Can't humans see the writing on the wall?
- Pacific Ocean variability influences the time of emergence of a seasonally ice‐free Arctic Ocean
- Invasive species and carbon flux: the case of invasive beavers ( Castor canadensis) in riparian Nothofagus forests of Tierra del Fuego, Chile
BBC is among many outlets to cover the climate strikes which took place across the UK last Friday. Pupils went “on strike” as part of a global campaign for action on climate change, says BBC News. The campaign calls on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem, BBC News adds. Organisers said more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall joined the strike, reports the Guardian, which also has a summary of the protests. Traffic outside Parliament was brought to a standstill by the protest, says the Daily Telegraph. Many of the children “were keen to point out it is their generation who will be left to pick up the pieces of our civilisation’s waste and pollution,” reports BBC education reporter Judith Burns. “We’re running out of time for meaningful change and that’s why we’re seeing young people around the world rising up to hold their governments to account on their dismal climate records,“ says Anna Taylor, of the UK Student Climate Network, which coordinated the strikes, reports the Independent. DeSmog UK notes more protests by school strikers are planned globally for 15 March 2019.
The Financial Times, the Evening Standard, Buzzfeed News, Vice, Al Jazeera, the Scotsman and the Daily Telegraph also cover the strikes. The Hill also covers the story, while the New York Times reports more widely on the protests which took place across Europe. EurActiv covers the protests in France. The Guardian also had a live blog and video covering the protests. BBC News also has several videos and an article asking: “Why are students striking and will it have an impact?”
Three children were arrested during the protests, says the Sun, which adds that “Youngsters swigged booze, chanted ‘f*** Theresa May’ and clambered on Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square.” The strikes left many parents “concerned they would face a £60 fine for truancy”, according to the MailOnline.
The children earned a mild rebuke from the prime minister’s office for disrupting classes, says Reuters. A spokeswoman for Theresa May, the prime minister, said the government welcomed the students’ engagement, but that disruption to schools and lessons would be difficult for teachers. But her energy minister Claire Perry said she was “incredibly proud” of the young people, Reuters adds. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said schoolchildren were “right to feel let down by the generation before them”, while Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said it was the “most hopeful thing that’s happened in years”, says BBC News. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed the protest, saying the actions are a “cause for optimism in an often dark world”, reports the Press Association. In Germany, similar protests led Chancellor Angela Merkel to say such demonstrations couldn’t have happened without “outside influence”, reports Politico, although her spokesman later said she supported climate action protests by schoolchildren.
US economists are uniting in record numbers to back the idea of a carbon tax as the most effective and immediate way of tackling climate change, says the Financial Times. Former US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, who is leading the grouping, told the FT the “green new deal” programme was costly, whereas the carbon tax would be the “most efficient way” to reduce emissions. Meanwhile, Axios reports on plans from senate Democrats to push an amendment on a green new deal resolution on acknowledgement of human-driven global warming. The moves aim to put Republicans on the record on whether they support the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, says Axios. Vox has an article on how a California “coalition” is moving to begin the “tedious, but oh so necessary” work of decarbonising buildings. “As the green new deal acknowledges, any plan to tackle climate change has to tackle the building sector, even if it won’t get headlines,” it says. Think Progress, meanwhile, looks at the “20-year-old playbook that explains Republicans’ attacks on the green new deal.”
A protest from the environmental action group Extinction Rebellion disrupted the third day of London fashion week on Sunday, reports the Guardian. The protestors formed human blockades on roads around event venues to “highlight the spiralling throwaway culture in the UK’s clothing market” and “urge the British Fashion Council (BFC) to declare a climate emergency”, adds the Guardian. Over 100 activists joined the protest, says the Evening Standard. The action follows a letter Extinction Rebellion sent to Caroline Rush, chief executive at the British Fashion Council, which said the fashion industry “could be revolutionary force for change” and called on the organisation to declare a climate emergency, reports DeSmog UK. The Times reports on government plans that could force fashion retailers and manufacturers to “pay a levy on every garment sold” in a bid to cut on down on clothing waste. BBC News has a quiz on whether your clothes are damaging the environment.
The UK’s fracking firms are headed for a “crunch moment” that will determine whether the industry has a future, according to observers and insiders, says the Guardian, as two of the leading shale companies lead a “concerted lobbying drive” calling for the government to review rules on tremors limits. Channel 4 News has a video on the 48 geoscientists who signed a recent pro-fracking letter backing the calls for the regulations to be reviewed. It finds that many of the signatories have links to the oil and gas industry. A Sun editorial meanwhile says the Tories are “suffocating” the new fracking industry “at birth” by “persisting with an absurdly low limit on the level of tremor allowable when drilling”.
“Such is the upside-down, topsy-turvy state of our world, that the children are now the adults and the adults are the children,” writes Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland of the school climate strike which took place on Friday. “At first sight the reaction surely has to be one of unfettered joy… And yet, there is a harsher truth to face. These demonstrations by the young are a terrible indictment of the rest of us.” George Monbiot also writes on his support for the “Youth Strike 4 Climate”, saying: “My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back.” BusinessGreen editor James Murray also writes on the protest and other recent climate-related action. In the Scotsman, Dani Garavelli: calls the striking schoolchildren a “beacon of hope”. And ConservativeHome carries an article from Paul Goodman asking how many younger voters “know about the [UK’s] emissions reduction record” and questioning if they are “conscious of the potential trade-offs” of zero emissions by 2050. The New Statesman profiles Greta Thunburg, the Swedish 16-year-old who has inspired the wave of school walkouts.
A Scottish Daily Record editorial says: “Young campaigners will change climate, not politicians or the wealthy”. A Times editorial also comes out in favour of the schoolchildren: “They will live in an era of heightened risk of irreversible planetary damage. They are right not to take it meekly, or to reserve their dismay to evenings and weekends.”
A feature in the Guardian looks at why people are still building new condominiums in Florida despite the forecasts that Florida has five of the 20 urban areas in America that will suffer the most from rising seas. “Humans tend to respond to immediate threats and financial consequences – and coastal real estate, especially in Florida, may be on the cusp of delivering that harsh wake-up call,” it says.
Natural variability in the Pacific Ocean could affect the time of emergence of the first “ice-free” Arctic summer, a study suggests. Previous research has suggested that, unless greenhouse gases are rapidly reduced, the first “ice-free” Arctic summer could occur around the middle of the century. The new research finds that shifts in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, a phenomenon affecting long-term sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, could affect emergence time by around seven years. The authors say: “Our results suggest increased likelihood of accelerated sea ice loss over the coming decades and an increased risk of an ice-free Arctic within the next 20-30 years.”
Invasion by North American beavers is significantly harming carbon stocks in Chilean forests, a study finds. Researchers tracked the impact of the non-native beavers on the carbon stored by trees in forests in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. They find beavers had a harmful effect on plant survival and, thus, carbon stocks. “These results document the impacts of invasive mammals on large terrestrial [carbon] sinks and highlight the need for understanding the magnitude of such effects across both landscape- and regional-scales,” the authors say.
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