Newsdesk – October 12

The environmental group Extinction Rebellion stages a die-in at the Charging Bull statue in Manhattan on Oct. 7, 2019. Photos: Hilary Swift for The Intercept

Can Extinction Rebellion Build a U.S. Climate Movement Big Enough to Save the Earth?  A crowd of about 200 black-clad members of the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion gathered last Monday morning at the southern end of New York City’s financial district. Richard McLachlan, a 68-year-old New Zealander and his fellow activist began reading Extinction Rebellion’s declaration of rebellion. “The science is clear: We are in the sixth mass extinction event, and we will face catastrophe if we do not act swiftly and robustly. We, in alignment with our consciences and our reasoning, declare ourselves in rebellion against our government and the corrupted, inept institutions that threaten our future.” By sunset, police had arrested 700 people across the globe for participation in actions under XR’s banner, including 93 “die-in” participants in New York. By getting arrested in visually compelling acts of civil disobedience inspired by Gandhi, the civil rights movement, and ACT UP, Extinction Rebellion hopes to jolt world leaders into taking action on the climate emergency. Since the movement was born in the United Kingdom one year ago, it has grown to a network of at least 485 groups in 72 countries. Extinction Rebellion’s No. 1 demand is that those in power “Tell the truth” about climate change. It’s why activists scaled the New York Times building in June and unfurled a banner that read “Climate change = mass murder,” with “change” crossed out and replaced by “emergency. ”The truth, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is that governments must act to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 if they want to give humanity a 50 percent chance of avoiding unmanageable climate outcomes. Finding those odds unacceptable, Extinction Rebellion demands the goal be met by 2025. Monday’s procession moved from the charging bull to the New York Stock Exchange, where more fake-bloodied Extinction Rebellion bodies were strewn across the pedestrian-only road. Many marchers carried gravestones with the names of environmental defenders who have been murdered throughout the globe. Extinction Rebellion’s ambition is no less than to save the Earth. To win, they say they need 3.5 percent of the U.S. population to participate. But whether a largely white, middle-class movement has what it takes to meet a sky-high ambition of mobilizing more than 11 million people to force sweeping climate action is an open question – The Intercept

  • Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers – The Guardian
  • Plastic cotton buds now banned in Scotland in fight against ‘global climate emergency’ – Independent
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry Honors 3 Who Enabled a ‘Fossil Fuel-Free World’ — with an Exxon Twist – Inside Climate News
  • Why the Bus Got So Bad, and How to Save It – CityLab
  • Firms ignoring climate crisis will go bankrupt, says Mark Carney – The Guardian
  • Spotted owl at center of forest fight in New Mexico – Santa Fe New Mexican
  • Labour party pledges to ban sale of non-electric cars by 2030 – The Guardian
The average airline passenger produces about three pounds of trash per flight, according to researchers. PriestmanGoode

Airline Food Waste Is a Problem. Can Banana Leaves Be Part of the Solution?  International Air Transport Association, a trade group representing about 300 airlines, conducted a small study at Heathrow Airport in London and estimated that airlines generated about 6.7 million tons of cabin waste last year. Dr. Pere Fullana i Palmer, director of the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change and her research group based in Barcelona, have taken an even deeper dive into the issue of airline trash. Dr. Fullana i Palmer’s research group teamed up with several airlines analyzed approximately 8,400 pounds of garbage on 145 flights into Madrid. The group found that 33 percent was food waste, 28 percent was cardboard and paper waste, and about 12 percent was plastic. Alaska Airlines, Ryanair and British Airways have made public declarations to reduce waste, and Air France said it would eliminate 210 million single-use plastic items like cups and stirring sticks by the end of this year. On one Qantas flight in May, which the company called “the first-ever commercial flight to produce no landfill waste,” the airline removed individually packaged servings of milk and Vegemite, and served meals in containers made from sugar cane, with utensils made of crop starch. The average airline passenger leaves behind about three pounds of waste each flight.  One British design firm, PriestmanGoode, has ideas to bring down that number. Jo Rowan is the associate strategy director of the firm. “Onboard waste is a big issue,” she said. “Knowing that you have four billion passengers per year, it all adds up very quickly.” In designing the onboard items, PriestmanGoode was conscious of heft because the more weight on an aircraft, the higher the fuel emissions. The tray is made of coffee grounds and husks (also a coffee byproduct). The dishes are made of pressed wheat bran, and a single spork made of coconut palm wood, a waste product that farmers would otherwise burn, replaces plastic cutlery – The New York Times

An embankment of the Chikuma River broke in Nagano Prefecture, inundating homes and flooding streets. Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

Helicopters and Boats Rescue the Stranded After Typhoon Hits Japan. The largest storm in decades hit the country. Japan woke on Sunday morning to flooded rivers and burst levees, as emergency workers used helicopters and boats to rescue stranded residents from their homes in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis.  More than 370,000 households were without power, and at least 15,000 homes were without water, Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, told reporters, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Chiba, east of Tokyo, on Saturday evening just before the storm hit. Tokyo Electric Power said it was inspecting the nuclear plant for damage from the heavy rains. Kyote News reports that floodwaters in Tamura displaced huge bags containing contaminated waste gathered during the cleanup of areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. A river washed away an unknown number of the bags, which were in a temporary storage area. On Saturday, the authorities canceled flights across the country, Japan railways suspended service in the Tokyo region, and bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka were also suspended. Hagibis followed another strong typhoon, Faxai, which hit Japan last month, causing heavy damage in Chiba Prefecture. The devastation is huge, especially because it’s the second natural disaster in a short time. In Ichihara City, debris caused by Hagibis piled up next to refuse from the previous storm.  Hideto Ata, a 62-year-old farmer, surveyed the ruins of his crops. The tornado that accompanied the storm had ripped the roof off a nearby house and dragged it across his fields, uprooting tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants. Kenichi Nakajima, 58, a farmer, had driven over a bridge to see the flooding close to a friend’s house. “They can’t get out of their houses; it’s such a pity,” he said. “We don’t have supermarkets around here. We have to go far to a big supermarket. But without a car, we can’t go shopping as the cars are flooded.”    The scale of the damage is “abnormal,” Mr. Nakajima said, suggesting global warming was responsible – The New York Times