Newsdesk December 29

Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion activists blocked one of the most important bridges in Amsterdam on October 12, 2019. [Photo Credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images]
If our governments won’t stop climate change, should we revolt? Extinction Rebellion says yes. This Extinction Rebellion, or XR for short, is the movement behind some of the boldest climate protests of the year. It burst onto the scene in the UK in 2018, demanding that the British government achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. And XR’s cofounder, the longtime British climate activist Roger Hallam, has a new book out explaining the rationale behind this global rebellion, in which he argues that nonviolent civil disobedience is our only shot at countering the climate emergency. But is breaking the law in numerous ways, such as blocking roads and disrupting transit, a good way to fight climate change? Hallam says that if this doesn’t work then the only other option is to topple the government. But nevertheless, he believes that “we need lots of people going to their capital city and blocking the roads until the government substantially bends to the demands or collapses.” Hallam added that “Basically, you get the authorities to a point where they can’t cope and then they’ll engage in negotiations. Obviously this doesn’t work all the time. But it has a substantial probability relative to the other options.” He argues that still, “the most effective way to do that is breaking the law and going to prison,” because otherwise, there would have always been a minimal outcome in the end. In fact, in only two XR rebellion events in the UK, 3,000 people have already been arrested. Roger Hallam acknowledges this while keeping in mind that the protests have to be kept nonviolent. He concludes that “The radical flank effect is a very effective political mechanism. That’s the rationale behind doing civil disobedience and telling the truth. If you can close down Washington for two weeks, you move the Overton window and everyone actually starts talking about climate change” – VOX

  • US rules out any talk of a climate crisis in trade negotiations – The Guardian
  • Investors Warned To Expect Global Dietary Shift Amid Climate Crisis – Forbes
  • Kenya places climate disorder at centre of UN security council bid – Climate Home News
  • The UN climate talks ended in deadlock. Is this really the best the world can manage? – The Guardian
  • Court says EPA must regulate river temperatures for fish – E&E News
  • Classical music must play its part in tackling the climate crisis – The Guardian
  • Australia and Brazil carbon credits will put 1.5C out of reach, 31 countries say – Climate Home News
  • Australia bushfires: two NSW volunteer firefighters killed and up to 40 properties destroyed – The Guardian

High-school students work on a four-hour philosophy dissertation that kicks off the French general baccalaureat exam in Versailles, France, June 18, 2018. [Photo Credit: Benoit Tessier/Reuters]
Carbon dioxide in homes, offices, and classrooms could cut our capacity for complex, strategic thinking by 50% within 80 years, scientists warn. In fact, indoor levels of the gas are projected to climb so high, in fact, that they could cut people’s ability to do complex cognitive tasks in half by the end of the century. And beyond being to blame for Earth’s climbing temperature, carbon dioxide also has direct impacts on the human brain. Unfortunately for the US, Americans spend about 90% of their lives indoors, where carbon-dioxide levels can build up quickly as we inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. In fact, a 2015 Harvard paper says had people spending six full workdays in a lab-controlled office space with varying levels of carbon dioxide. Each afternoon, the participants took part in a computer simulation in which they responded to an evolving real-world scenario, like managing a town as its mayor. Similar results have been found in schools. A 2015 study found that across 140 fifth-grade classrooms in the southwestern US, poor ventilation and high CO2 levels were strongly correlated with lower math scores for students. An earlier study of 434 classrooms in Washington and Idaho found a similar relationship between CO2 levels and rates of student absence. In the end, “It always comes down to the ability to get oxygen to the brain,” Kris Karnauskas, a climate scientist and lead author on the new research, told Business Insider. “Hopefully this [study] will spur more investigation into the physiology of it.” However, there is still time to prevent the drastic drop in human brain function that Karnauskas and his colleagues project. They also charted a more optimistic scenario outlined by the IPCC, one in which governments enact policies to severely cut carbon emissions, such as transitioning to renewable energy, sucking carbon out of the air, and expanding forests – Business Insider

A burned area of the Amazon rainforest is seen in Prainha, Para state, Brazil, on Nov. 23, 2019. [Photo Credit: Leo Correa/AP]
Top scientists warn of an Amazon ‘tipping point’– Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University and Carlos Nobre of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, both of whom have studied the world’s largest rainforest for decades, wrote, “the precious Amazon is teetering on the edge of functional destruction and, with it, so are we.” And indeed, deforestation and other fast-moving changes in the Amazon threaten to turn parts of the rainforest into savanna, devastate wildlife and release billions of tons carbon into the atmosphere. This is combined with recent news that the thawing Arctic permafrost may be beginning to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and that Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an accelerating pace. In addition, the Amazon is 17 percent deforested, but for the large portion of it inside Brazil, the figure is closer to 20 percent. The fear is that soon there will be so little forest that the trees, which not only soak up enormous quantities of rainwater but also give off mist that aids agriculture and sustains innumerable species, won’t be able to recycle enough rainfall. And at that point, several hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide could wind up in the atmosphere, worsening climate change. In fact, this month, nearly 100 scientists detailed how the Greenland ice sheet’s losses have accelerated in recent decades, growing from 33 billion tons lost per year in the 1990s to a current average of 254 billion tons annually. In addition, the Amazon is warming at an accelerated rate. An analysis by The Washington Post of global temperature changes found that almost the entirety of Brazil has warmed by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, since the late 1800s. In combination, the Amazon and Arctic news underscores that even as humans are largely failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth may increase such emissions yet further – Washington Post