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‘Students Have Led and We Must Follow’: Thousands of Scientists From 40 Nations Join Global Climate Strike

More than 2,000 scientists on Thursday pledged to take part in the Global Climate Strike and week of action beginning today. (image source: Flickr/julian meehan)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

More than 2,000 scientists on Thursday pledged to take part in the Global Climate Strike and week of action beginning Friday, joining the labor movementAmazon workers, and teachers in refusing to allow children to carry the burden of securing the planet’s future by demanding climate action.

“Scientifically, we succeeded in explaining the causes and cures of the climate crisis. But at a more fundamental level, we failed to transform our societies and lower our emissions. The climate striking youth are calling us all out of our comfort zones, and it is now the duty of scientists and all adults to support them.”
—Dr. Julia Steinberger, University of Leeds

The scientists, who conduct their research in more than 40 countries, wrote in an open letter that “solid, incontrovertible evidence” supports climate campaigners’ grave concerns about the effect of uncontrolled carbon emissions on the planet.

Adults, especially those from the field whose research is the basis for the climate action movement that’s gained momentum in the past year, must join young people in calling for an end to fossil fuel extraction and a rapid shift to renewable energy sources, the scientists said.

“Those of us who teach may cancel our classes—or move them outside and turn them into teach-ins for the whole community,” the scientists added. “Those of us engaged in research will leave the lab bench or the computer screen for an afternoon and join other citizens in calling attention to the crisis.”

The scientists announced their participation a day after Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who inspired the Global Climate Strike, testified before Congress by directing lawmakers’ attention to the science of the climate crisis.

Instead of offering an opening statement, Thunberg implored legislators to read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report detailing how the effects of the climate crisis will be irreversible by 2030 unless world governments drastically reduce carbon emissions—report officials have had access to for nearly a year.

“Students have led and we must follow—in defense of the scientific truths our colleagues have discovered over the decades, and of the planet, we love,” the scientists wrote Thursday.

Dr. Julia K. Steinberger, a social ecology professor at the University of Leeds, said scientists have a responsibility not only to share their findings with the public but to stand alongside their fellow citizens in the fight against the “war on science.”

“The duty of all scientists and academics is to provide a better future for the youth of the world,” said Steinberger in a statement. “Scientifically, we succeeded in explaining the causes and cures of the climate crisis. But at a more fundamental level, we failed to transform our societies and lower our emissions. The climate striking youth are calling us all out of our comfort zones, and it is now the duty of scientists and all adults to support them.”

Author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben has in recent weeks called on adults to stand alongside the millions of children who have walked out of their classrooms in the last year to demand that their governments treat the climate crisis as the emergency that it is.

Scientists supporting the Global Climate Strike emphasized that young organizers’ goals of convincing governments to radically change the world’s economies and energy sectors are achievable—but not without the participation of the science field.

“Science tells us that two degrees of warming brings us to some dangerous tipping points or thresholds that will seriously affect human society,” said Professor Hayley Fowler of Newcastle University in the U.K. “The scale of change is immense but not insurmountable. We need to act now to make easy and more difficult changes to our lifestyles to reduce emissions, with the lead from our governments.”

Dr. Lucky Tran, an organizer of the 2017 March for Science, tweeted that scientists must speak out Friday especially considering the Trump administration’s muzzling of the science field.

“I am going on strike to stand with the people most impacted by the climate crisis—youth and frontline communities—who are calling on world leaders to stop stalling, and finally act with the urgency that science and justice demand,” said Tran.

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Open Letter From College Professors Urges Educators Worldwide to Cancel Class, Join Global Climate Strike

“Image Source: Flickr/Socialist Appeal

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

Highlighting an open letter now co-signed by 175 teachers that urges educators around the world to cancel classes and join the global climate strike scheduled for Sept. 20, two of the original signatories published an op-ed in The Guardian Friday explaining why striking “in the name of climate justice is a resounding endorsement of learning.”

“We educators need to help strengthen the climate movement, and the start of this school year is an important moment.”
—Jonathan Isham and Lee Smithey, U.S. professors

In the op-ed, Jonathan Isham of Middlebury College and Lee Smithey of Swarthmore College acknowledge the lessons they have learned about the human-caused climate emergency from their own students, youth leaders like Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, and the millions of people who have participated in Fridays for Future demonstrations across the globe.

“No educator is able to join Greta Thunberg as she continues her bold Atlantic crossing, but all of us can follow her lead,” they write, referencing the 16-year-old’s recent trip to the United States via an emissions-free vessel. “We risk losing credibility with an entire generation of students if we cannot take action in support of the defining cause of their generation.”

The professors note that “some educators—and their bosses—might object to striking,” and outline a few reasons why that may be the case. However, they argue, “to strike in the name of climate justice is a resounding endorsement of learning: it turns out the world’s youth have been listening to their teachers all along. They understand the science of climate disruption; they take in the lessons of history; they grapple with the complexity of market forces and the true costs of polluting. In their humanities and social science courses, they hear the voices of those at the margins and then honor their dignity and humanity through the arts.”

Pointing to record-smashing heatrapidly melting glaciers, and the legacies of colonialism and global inequality that harm people of color and other marginalized communities worldwide, they write that “it’s also undeniable that our students—all of us—have much more to learn about climate disruption and injustice.”

“That’s why, above all, we educators need to help strengthen the climate movement, and the start of this school year is an important moment,” Isham and Smithey continue. “The eyes of the world are on young people, who are demonstrating the kind of vision and determination that has not yet taken hold in halls of power the world over.”

Bill McKibben, co-founder 350.org and a vocal supporter of the global strike planned for next month, shared the op-ed on Twitter Friday—writing that it is “so deeply good to see teachers mobilizing to join their students in the Sept. 20 climate strikes!”

Along with their op-ed, Isham and Smithey joined seven other professors in issuing an open letter that declares, “don’t teach, strike!” The letter calls on educators to cancel classes and contribute to local actions on Sept. 20 because “unsustainable development, powered by the fossil-fuel economy, is disrupting our global climate.”

“Let us use the power of collective action to help raise the political will necessary to tackle humanity’s greatest challenge; to learn from and inspire one another, and to support our students and all people as they use their learning to create a sustainable future for all,” the letter reads. “Above all, let us find ways to focus our collective determination on the global threat that defines this time.”

As of Friday morning, an additional 175 educators who teach at various institutions, from primary schools to prestigious universities, had signed on to the open letter.

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Over 1,351 Climate Strikes in 110 Countries Planned for Friday as Global Revolt Escalates

People in more than 100 countries are expected to take part in well over 1,000 strikes on Friday, May 24 to demand climate action from their governments. (Photo: @ExtinctionR/Twitter)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

Two months after what was reportedly the largest international climate demonstration ever, young people around the world are expected to make history again on Friday with a second global climate strike.

Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began the global movement in which students around the world have walked out of their classrooms on a weekly basis since last fall to demand climate action, reported Tuesday that at least 1,351 separate strikes are now scheduled to take place all over the world on Friday.

Climate justice advocates plan to walk out of their schools and workplaces on every continent on the globe and in more than 100 countries.

Two strikes are planned in Antarctica, according to a map on the #FridaysForFuture website; countries including Afghanistan, Namibia, and Uzbekistan are each planning at least one strike, while hundreds of rallies have been planned across Germany, France, the U.S., and several other countries.

On March 15, an estimated 1.6 million people demonstrated in 123 countries. The number of planned protests for Friday surpassed the 1,325 which took place two months ago.

350.org called on supporters to stand with the students leading the global call for an end to fossil fuel extraction in order to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Thunberg held the first climate strike last fall, holding a one-person protest outside Swedish Parliament and demanding that her elected officials begin a shift toward renewable energy sources to help stem the warming of the globe.

Young people who have organized their own protests in recent months argue that they will still be relatively young in 2030, the year that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns the climate crisis will be irreversible unless world leaders take action now to stop the carbon emissions which are rapidly warming the planet.

While government officials who refuse to act now may not have many more decades left on the planet, youth organizers argue, young people will face the consequences of that inaction.

In recent weeks, grassroots climate protests have successfully pressured some government leaders into officially recognizing the climate crisis and pledging to take action. Lawmakers in EnglandIrelandScotland, and Wales officially declared a climate emergency in the wake of mass protests by the global movement Extinction Rebellion in April.

And the head of the European Commission pledged in February to spend a quarter of the EU’s budget on combating the climate crisis beginning in 2021, under pressure from Thunberg.

“Activism works. So act,” Thunberg tweeted this week, sharing a video featuring young people who plan to walk out of their schools on Friday.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.