Newsdesk – December 10

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, centre, stands with other young activists at the COP25 Climate summit in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Thunberg is in Madrid where a global U.N. sponsored climate change conference is taking place. (AP Photo/Andrea Comas)

Youth urge adults to stop ‘acting like children’ on climate change. MADRID (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Children and young people increasingly at risk from extreme weather are out in the streets demanding faster action on global warming, Theo Cullen-Mouze, a 17-year-old climate activist from Ireland whose small island community off the west coast is suffering from wilder winter storms, longer summer droughts and more frequent extreme felt like he had no choice but to start a climate protest every Friday outside his local government office. “I came to Madrid because the adults are acting like children,” he said. “Please listen to us, please listen to the science,” he pleaded. At the Madrid conference, UNICEF launched a “Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action”, which it said reflected priorities identified by children and youth throughout the world. Paloma Escudero, UNICEF’s global director of communications, noted that half a billion children live in areas at very high risk of floods due to extreme weather, as well as rising sea levels. Escudero noted that only 42% of countries’ Paris Agreement climate action plans – which they are due to update next year – mentioned children or youth. Robinson, also a former U.N. human rights chief and grandmother of six, said countries should think harder about how to include children in those plans and find ways for young people to be listened to. “Children have called out the adult world (on climate change)… because this is a gross injustice to young people,” she said. “Children, I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart – we are failing you,” David R. Boyd, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and the environment said. Camila Gonzalez, a 16-year-old Mexican climate activist, said young people should be given a seat at the table when governments make decisions on responding to climate change. “Yes, we are children… but do not think that we are stupid and do not know enough,” she said – Reuters

  • Torres Strait doctors issue call to arms over climate change impact on Indigenous health – The Guardian
  • China’s climate paradox: A leader in coal and clean energy – AP News
  • Climate scientists try to cut their own carbon footprints – Las Vegas Sun
  • Move over, coal: Gas now emits more CO2 in U.S. – EE News
  • Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century – The Guardian
  • Yes, It’s still up to you to do something about climate change – Ensia
  • Egypt could lose 95% of income from coral reef tourism by 2100 due to climate change – Ahram Online
Plastic is not just a water problem, it gets caught in trees, endangers wildlife, clogs drains and causes all sorts of ecological and health hazards. Credit: Michael Coghlan/Flickr

Ban the Bag!  Those ubiquitous flimsy shopping sacks are vanishing from country after country, leaving less plastic in our seas, our trees and our own digestive systems. One hundred twenty-seven countries have introduced regulations like bans and fees to cut down on single-use plastic bags… One of the most ambitious of these initiatives had been in India, which vowed just last year to eliminate single-use bags entirely by 2022. But in October, officials called off the bag ban, apparently caving to industry pressure. Couldn’t the plastic containers and bags be replaced by other packaging — paper or reusable bags — and jobs be created in the process? Plastic bags are doing serious harm to all kinds of life on the planet. Even domestic animals like cows die from ingesting these things. Plastic bags also clog drains, which causes flooding, and the damage they’re inflicting on ocean life is disrupting the whole food chain.  Many kinds of plastic eventually break down and flow into the soil and the oceans as microplastics — tiny shards of plastic less than five millimeters big. Fish eat these particles, and we eat the fish, which means that just like the cows and the turtles, our bodies are filled with plastic bits. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates the costs arising from single-use plastics, together with those of the greenhouse gases emitted during production, to be $40 billion. Single-use of plastic cost us money and are detrimental to our way of life, so it’s time to get rid of them. Countries like England, Scotland, Wales and Italy are trying a bag tax rather than a complete ban. Shoppers who ask for a bag in those countries pay extra. This strategy has been proven elsewhere, including in a growing number of U.S. cities and states – Reason To Be Cheerful

World’s oceans are losing oxygen at a dangerous, unprecedented rate as temperatures rise, study finds. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the largest report of its kind — combining the efforts of 67 scientists from 17 countries — at the global climate summit in Madrid on Saturday. It found that the oxygen level of the ocean has declined by about 2% since the 1950s, and the volume of water completely depleted of oxygen has quadrupled since the 1960s. Reductions in oxygen levels in the ocean can cause stress in marine organisms, depriving them of the necessary oxygen supply. According to researchers, deoxygenation is threatening larger species including tuna, marlin, swordfish and sharks. Larger marine animals are swimming closer to the surface, where oxygen is more available, but this leaves them prone to overfishing. Hundreds of millions of people who rely on fishing for their food and livelihood may be affected as they struggle to adapt. In addition to the socioeconomic impacts on humans, deoxygenated waters produce greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, that are eventually released into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2018, according to the World Meteorological Organization. In order to fix the issue of deoxygenation, scientists say humans must quickly tackle the climate crises globally, as well as nutrient pollution at the local level through legislation to reduce runoff. Scientists warn that warming-driven deoxygenation cannot easily be reversed, but it can be slowed by reducing greenhouse gas emissions – CBS News