Newsdesk – March 16

Thousands take part in a protest called by the “Fridays For Future” movement on a global day of student protests aiming to spark world leaders into action on climate change in Santiago, Chile, on March 15, 2019. Photograph: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

Climate strikes held around the world – as it happened. More than 1 million students skipped school on Friday to protest government inaction on climate change. More than 2,000 protests took place in 125 countries. The movement was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, now nominated for a Nobel Prize. From Australia and New Zealand to Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America, students took to the streets with a clear message to world leaders: act now to save our planet and our future from the climate emergency. Here are the most powerful words of an 18-year-old student, Hannah Laga Abram from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who protested yesterday: “We are living in the sixth mass extinction. Ice is melting. Forests are burning. Waters are rising. And we do not even speak of it. Why? Because admitting the facts means admitting crimes of epic proportions by living our daily lives. Because counting the losses means being overpowered by grief. Because allowing the scale of the crisis means facing the fear of swiftly impending disaster and the fact that our entire system must change. But now is not the time to ignore science in order to save our feelings. It is time to be terrified, enraged, heartbroken, grief-stricken, radical. It is time to act” – The Guardian 

  • The Climate Benefits of the Green New Deal – Scientific American
  • ‘They chose us because we were rural and poor’: when environmental racism and climate change collide – The Guardian
  • God and the earth: Evangelical take on climate change – DW Made For Minds
  • French government working on ‘more ambitious’ energy and climate bill – Reuters
  • Germany: Parents support young climate activists – DW Made For Minds
  • What it’s like to raise children in the world’s most polluted capital – Quartz
  • Radical plan to artificially cool Earth’s climate could be safe, study finds – The Guardian
Greta Thunberg … ‘I have always been that girl in the back who doesn’t say anything.’ Photograph: Michael Campanella/The Guardian

Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’. The girl who once slipped into despair is now a beacon of hope. One day last summer, aged 15, she skipped school, sat down outside the Swedish parliament – and inadvertently kicked off a global movement. Back then, Thunberg was a painfully introverted “girl in the back who doesn’t say anything.” She was never quite like the other kids. Her mother, Malena Ernman, is one of Sweden’s most celebrated opera singers. Her father, Svante Thunberg, is an actor and author. Greta’s parents discovered that their daughter had remarkable powers of persuasion. “Over the years, I ran out of arguments,” says her father. “She kept showing us documentaries, and we read books together. I thought we had the climate issue sorted,” he says. “She changed us and now she is changing a great many other people. Her mother gave up flying, which had a severe impact on her career. Her father became a vegetarian. One after another, veteran campaigners and grizzled scientists have described her as the best news for the climate movement in decades. She has been lauded at the UN, met the French president, Emmanuel Macron, shared a podium with the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and has been endorsed by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. There are no comfortable reassurances in her speech, just a steady frankness. Asked whether she has become more optimistic because the climate issue has risen up the political agenda, her reply is brutally honest. “No, I am not more hopeful than when I started. The emissions are increasing and that is the only thing that matters. I think that needs to be our focus. We cannot talk about anything else” – The Guardian

The Toxic Consequences of America’s Plastics Boom. Only 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled. The rest is thrown away, burned, or buried, or left to wash into streams and rivers or to blow out to sea. The images of a sea turtle with a straw wedged deep in its nostril, or a dead adolescent albatross with a stomach full of jewel-like plastic shards helped raise the alarm about plastic waste around the world. Even the corporations that produce plastics have grown alarmed. In January, dozens of companies including Dow, ExxonMobil, and Formosa Plastics Corporation announced the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, with an initial commitment of $1 billion to fund recycling and cleanup. At the same time, those same petrochemical giants are investing $65 billion to dramatically expand plastics production in the United States, and more than 333 petrochemical projects are underway or newly completed. “If you’re going to increase production of plastics—double it in the next 15 years—you’re going to see an increase of unrecyclable plastic products and packaging going to the more remote parts of the world, where there is still no plan for efficient recovery,” said Marcus Eriksen, a scientist and former Marine who co-founded the 5 Gyres Institute. Against this backdrop, investing $1 billion in trash collection is like trying to empty a bathtub with a teaspoon while the tap is on full blast – The Nation

Insects are going extinct eight times as fast as mammals, birds, and reptiles.

12 signs we are in the middle of a 6th mass extinction. This is the sixth time in the history of life on Earth that global fauna has experienced a major collapse in numbers. More than 26,500 of the world’s species are threatened with extinction, and that number is expected to keep going up. Earth appears to be undergoing a process of “biological annihilation.” As much as half of the total number of animal individuals that once shared the Earth with humans are already gone. Insects are dying off at record rates. Roughly 40% of the world’s insect species are in decline. In the next 50 years, 1,700 species of amphibians, birds, and mammals will face a higher risk of extinction because their natural habitats are shrinking. Warming oceans are also leading to the unprecedented Arctic and Antarctic ice melt, which further contributes to sea-level rise. In the US, 17% of all threatened and endangered species are at risk because of rising seas. In February, Australia’s environment minister officially declared a rodent called the Bramble Cay Melomys to be the first species to go extinct because of human-driven climate change — specifically, sea-level rise.  In the next 50 years, the humans will drive so many mammal species to extinction that Earth’s evolutionary diversity won’t recover for some 3 million years, one study said. Returning the planet’s biodiversity to the state it was in before modern humans evolved would take even longer — up to 7 million years – Insider