Newsdesk – November 17

“Many of you know that my husband Alan Burns has been in Europe for the past several months on a pilgrimage to raise awareness about climate change. He and a group of fellow activists were walking from Rome to Katowice Poland in time for the Climate Conference. I received news Sunday morning that Alan had died while the pilgrims were in Slovenia. Please hold Alan, his family, and his friends in the light as we process this transition, and do whatever is in your power to continue his work to avert the worst catastrophe this planet has faced. Alan was a kind soul and a tireless worker for peace, justice, and equality; he lived his life as he hoped others would, and I think died doing exactly what he wanted to be doing – helping to save the world.”

– Liz Burns


“Charlotte friends, I just ran across this incredibly sad news that we lost one of the most dedicated climate activists I’ve ever met, and I’m sure some of you may have known, Alan Burns. He was one of the kindest and open people in the movement. He passed while participating in another one of his pilgrimages to bring attention to climate action, this time across Europe on his way to Katowice, Poland ahead of the international COP-24 meeting there. We first crossed paths now almost 10 years ago, as I myself began exploring and learning about social justice in its many forms.”

– Sebastian Marcin Feculak


“I was dismayed to hear of Alan Burns passing while on a pilgrimage to raise awareness about climate change. Alan was among the first people I met after moving to Charlotte in 2014. I had gone to his house to talk to him about his solar array, when Solarize Charlotte was still in the planning phase. He welcomed me into his home, pulled out a binder of data that he had collected on PV production, and was eager to share any insight he could offer on solar energy. In that first conversation, he conveyed his warmth, sincerity and desire to make change. Over several years, many meetings, van rides to Raleigh, and actions in uptown Charlotte, I saw how wholeheartedly committed Alan was to stopping climate change and making the world a better place. His endearing smile, unwavering activism, and weekly newsletters will be sorely missed. Sending love to his family and community.”

– Hanna Mitchell


“It was so tragic to hear about my friend Alan’s sudden passing this last weekend.
Alan was probably the gentlest, most selfless, passionate, and most aware and concern about climate change human being I’ve ever met.  He was a huge inspiration for me. His  website, Think Global Green will continue his legacy beyond the COP24  in Katowice, and beyond his sad departure.  I for one promise to work on the TGG Newsdesk on days to come, although I know Alan’s contribution could never be replaced…”

– Filip Zembowicz, 14


“So heartbroken to hear of the passing of the incredibly passionate and dedicated climate activist Alan Burns. I met Alan my first days in Charlotte and remember him holding up one of the main banners outside the May 2011 Duke Shareholder Meeting protest despite having a nasty snake bite on his hand. That’s the type of person Alan was. He would always be on the frontline addressing the climate crisis no matter the personal sacrifice, from risking arrest to protest the KXL pipeline in DC, to going without food hosting the Fast for the Climate in uptown and to walking for many, many miles on the months long pilgrimages across the world before the climate summits. Alan inspired action and encouraged us all to walk our talk. Sending love to all the family, friends and folks in Charlotte and around the world that were touched by his brave actions. May we all continue to march forward for climate justice. Rest in peace Alan.”

– Monica Mariko Embrey


“Alan will always be my personal hero and he has inspired all of us to take every step. Alan is one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I loved him like a brother and will always hold him in my heart. I am certain all of you feel the loss and you are also all in my heart and in my thoughts. Warm embrace to all of you in Charlotte.”

– Yeb Saño


“Just learned of the untimely passing of Alan Burns, an exemplary, humble, and genuinely kind human being, and a fiercely dedicated advocate for the environment and social justice. His passing is a profound loss for all inhabitants of our ailing, mourning planet. I only interacted with Alan for a short time when I worked at an environmental non-profit organization in Charlotte four years ago. Albeit briefly, it was a privilege meeting Alan, learning from him, and helping to honor him for his work. Rest peacefully, Alan. Thank you for loving Mother Earth the way all of us should. My sympathy to Alan’s family and close friends.

“In Alan’s memory, I urge you to do (or keep doing) your part to help save what’s left of this critically injured earth. As discouraging as it is that our head of state, his administration and many of his supporters deny climate change, just know that a singular man from the United Kingdom, who called Charlotte, NC, home for many years, died in Slovenia during his pilgrimage from Rome to Poland. Although he didn’t make it to Poland for the December 2nd Climate Convention, his legacy and spirit of fighting peacefully, but valiantly, for our planet will be there with his fellow activists. Peace.”

– Leslie Rupracht

  • Nearly 400,000 U.S. Homes Will Experience Chronic Flooding by 2050 – E360
  • Combat climate change by cutting beef and lamb production, report says – CNN
  • Palm oil supplier to PepsiCo, Mars, and Hershey resumes deforesting in Indonesia – Mongabay
  • How did climate change initiatives do in the midterms? Some lost — but some won – The Washington Post
  • Insect Populations Are Declining Around the World. How Worried Should We Be? – The Revelator 
  • Crab Fishers Sue Fossil Fuel Industry Over Climate Change Damage – Inside Climate News
  • Climate change helped make California a tinder box for its record-setting wildfires – Quartz
A woman watches a fire that threatens her home in Malibu, 9 November 2018. Photograph: Genaro Molina/LA Times via Getty Images

If celebrity victims of climate change can’t silence the deniers, who can? Wildfires don’t care about wealth or status,” began the New York Times this week, describing the celebrity homes obliterated by fire in California.In the early stages of the climate crisis, it often felt as if the opposite were true: floods, droughts and heatwaves were always somewhere else’s problem, usually the global south, where they could be chalked up to some pre-existing vulnerability. Yet nothing brings the environment closer to home than when it affects people who seem a world away, people such as Miley Cyrus and Cher, who you can’t imagine facing any problem more serious than which diamond shoes to pack. If they can’t escape this reality, then it must be real. Right?  Climate-change denial is dangerous, not because it has major governments by the throat, but because it is shameless: it will reject the facts on a page, and the evidence before its own eyes. It will blame anyone but the real culprits, and marshal that blame to suit a narrative of scarcity and threat. But there does come a point when rhetoric runs out of road, is swallowed up by a more awesome spectacle; the authentic human response to the bite of a reality that can’t be denied for ever – The Guardian 

Photograph by: AWeith/Wikimedia Commons

Good News! We Have Found a Thriving Polar Bear Population Somewhere on Our Planet.  Just when we thought that polar bears are pretty much the poster child for climate breakdown,  a new survey suggests that in some parts of the Arctic, the polar bears’ situation is not as dire as we’ve been fearing. In fact, biologists have found that a previously unstudied population of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the Chukchi Sea, between Alaska and Russia, is actually thriving. Before you crack open the champagne however, bear in mind that these animals aren’t completely free of threat.  “Sea-ice loss due to climate change remains the primary threat to the species but, as this study shows, there is variation in when and where the effects of sea-ice loss appear.  Some subpopulations are already declining while others are still doing OK” – Science Alert

Photograph by Marji Lang

Nature could suck up 21 percent of our greenhouse emissions (with a little help). According to a new study, changing land management to increase carbon storage could offset a whopping 21 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  The study, published on Wednesday in Science Advances, found that natural solutions to global warming could offset the amount of pollution equivalent to what’s released from every car and truck on the road in the nation. Given that trees are such excellent carbon sinks, they also run the risk of releasing all that carbon when burned in catastrophic wildfires, like the ones currently raging across California.  Among the 21 solutions, the study highlighted ten that could account for 90 percent of the mitigation potential. These included shifts in agricultural practices, such as improved nutrient management on farms, the use of biochar (a carbon-rich soil amendment) and cultivating crops between rows of trees (known as alley cropping). Also on the list: restoring the nearly one-third of U.S. marshes subject to freshwater inundation, which would reduce methane emissions, as well as preserve the natural carbon sinks found in grasslands and forests – Grist