1

‘Speeding in the Wrong Direction,’ Fossil Fuel Demand Tops Pre-Pandemic Levels

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams 

Climate campaigners and energy experts are responding to a recent rise in fossil fuel demand by reiterating the necessity of rapidly transitioning to renewable sources like solar and wind, with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg warning Monday that “we are still speeding in the wrong direction.”

Thunberg yet again took aim at world leaders’ empty promises to combat the climate emergency, including through policies and investments provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic. As she put it: “So much for ‘building back better’ and a ‘green recovery.'”

The 18-year-old—whose solo protests outside the Swedish Parliament sparked the global youth-led Fridays for Future movement—was reacting on Twitter to new reporting from Reuters that demand for coal and gas has topped pre-coronavirus highs, “with oil not far behind, dealing a setback to hopes the pandemic would spur a faster transition to clean energy.”

Reuters highlighted figures from International Energy Agency (IEA), the global energy watchdog which made clear in May that countries’ current climate pledges are deeply inadequate and allowing new fossil fuel projects is incompatible with the global goal to dramatically cut planet-heating pollution.

Three-quarters of the world’s total energy demand is still met by fossil fuels and both coal and gas demand are projected to surpass 2019 levels, according to the IEA. Coal demand is expected to rise 4.5% this year and gas demand is on track to increase 3.2%, after falling 1.9% last year.

As the news agency reported:

Global natural gas shortages, record gas and coal prices, a power crunch in China, and a three-year high on oil prices all tell one story—demand for energy has roared back and the world still needs fossil fuels to meet most of those energy needs.

“The demand fall during the pandemic was entirely linked to governments’ decision to restrict movements and had nothing to do with the energy transition,” Cuneyt Kazokoglu, head of oil demand analysis at FGE told Reuters.

“The energy transition and decarbonization are decade-long strategies and do not happen overnight.”

Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based IEA, has recently not only agreed with the consultant’s analysis but also made a case for transitioning power systems.

Faced with a steep rise in European gas prices last month, Birol said in a statement that “it is inaccurate and misleading to lay the responsibility at the door of the clean energy transition.”

“Today’s situation is a reminder to governments, especially as we seek to accelerate clean energy transitions, of the importance of secure and affordable energy supplies—particularly for the most vulnerable people in our societies,” Birol added. “Well-managed clean energy transitions are a solution to the issues that we are seeing in gas and electricity markets today—not the cause of them.”

“Well-managed clean energy transitions are a solution to the issues that we are seeing in gas and electricity markets today—not the cause of them.”
—Fatih Birol, IEA

Reporting last week on the rising demand for gas and its impact on electricity bills and factories, The New York Times noted that “growing concerns about climate change, expressed by shareholders or via court cases like the decision by a Dutch court in May ordering Royal Dutch Shell to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, may make some companies hesitate to invest in new multibillion-dollar fossil fuel projects.”

While one expert at the consultancy Rystad Energy suggested that such hesitancy could lead to “more volatile” markets, the Times added that a shift to power from clean sources like wind and solar eventually “may help protect consumers from the tyranny of the global commodity markets,” though “the events of this fall suggest that goal is some distance away.”

In response to that report, some experts called for speeding up the transition to clean energy and storage rather than clinging to gas. The Times coverage came as youth climate leaders, including Thunberg and Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, marched through Milan, Italy.

That march followed the United Nations-sponsored Youth4Climate summit that featured speeches from Thunberg and Nakate and was held to craft proposals for attendees of the U.N. conference known as COP 26, set to begin in Glasgow, Scotland later this month.

“‘Build back better.’ Blah blah blah,” Thunberg said in her address. “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words—words that sound great but so far have led to no action. Our hopes and dreams drowned in their empty words and promises.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

 




I Am Greta Isn’t About Climate Change. It’s About the Elusiveness of Sanity in an Insane World

As long as we can medicalize Thunberg as someone suffering from Asperger’s, we do not need to think about whether we are really the insane ones. (Photo: Screenshot)

Erich Fromm, the renowned German-Jewish social psychologist who was forced to flee his homeland in the early 1930s as the Nazis came to power, offered a disturbing insight later in life on the relationship between society and the individual.

Society itself could become so pathological, so detached from a normative way of life, that it induced a deep-seated alienation and a form of collective insanity among its members.

In the mid-1950s, his book The Sane Society suggested that insanity referred not simply to the failure by specific individuals to adapt to the society they lived in. Rather, society itself could become so pathological, so detached from a normative way of life, that it induced a deep-seated alienation and a form of collective insanity among its members. In modern western societies, where automation and mass consumption betray basic human needs, insanity might not be an aberration but the norm.

Fromm wrote:

“The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”

Challenging definition

This is still a very challenging idea to anyone raised on the view that sanity is defined by consensus, that it embraces whatever the mainstream prefers, and that insanity applies only to those living outside those norms. It is a definition that diagnoses the vast majority of us today as insane.

When Fromm wrote his book, Europe was emerging from the ruins of the Second World War. It was a time of reconstruction, not only physically and financially, but legally and emotionally. International institutions like the United Nations had recently been formed to uphold international law, curb national greed and aggression, and embody a new commitment to universal human rights.

It was a time of hope and expectation. Greater industrialization spurred by the war effort and intensified extraction of fossil fuels meant economies were beginning to boom, a vision of the welfare state was being born, and a technocratic class promoting a more generous social democracy were replacing the old patrician class.

It was at this historic juncture that Fromm chose to write a book telling the western world that most of us were insane.

Degrees of insanity

If that was clear to Fromm in 1955, it ought to be much clearer to us today, as buffoon autocrats stride the world stage like characters from a Marx Brothers movie; as international law is being intentionally unraveled to restore the right of western nations to invade and plunder; and as the physical world demonstrates through extreme weather events that the long-ignored science of climate change – and much other human-inspired destruction of the natural world – can no longer be denied.

And yet our commitment to our insanity seems as strong as ever – possibly stronger. Sounding like the captain of the Titanic, the unreconstructed British liberal writer Sunny Hundal memorably gave voice to this madness a few years back when he wrote in defense of the catastrophic status quo:

If you want to replace the current system of capitalism with something else, who is going to make your jeans, iPhones and run Twitter?

As the clock ticks away, the urgent goal for each of us is to gain a deep, permanent insight into our own insanity. It doesn’t matter that our neighbors, family, and friends think as we do. The ideological system we were born into, that fed us our values and beliefs as surely as our mothers fed us milk, is insane. And because we cannot step outside of that ideological bubble – because our lives depend on submitting to this infrastructure of insanity – our madness persists, even as we think of ourselves as sane.

Our world is not one of the sane versus the insane, but of the less insane versus the more insane.

Intimate portrait

This is why I recommend the new documentary I Am Greta, a very intimate portrait of the Swedish child environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

Before everyone gets started, let me point out that I Am Greta is not about the climate emergency. That is simply the background noise as the film charts the personal journey begun by this 15-year-old girl with Asperger’s syndrome in staging a weekly lone protest outside the Swedish parliament. Withdrawn and depressed by the implications of the compulsive research she has done on the environment, she rapidly finds herself thrust into the center of global attention by her simple, heartfelt statements of the obvious.

The schoolgirl shunned as insane by classmates suddenly finds the world is drawn to the very qualities that previously singled her out as weird: her stillness, her focus, her refusal to equivocate or to be impressed.

Footage of her father desperately trying to get her to take a break and eat something, if only a banana, as she joins yet another climate march, or of her curling up in a ball on her bed, needing to be silent, after an argument with her father over the time she has spent crafting another speech to world leaders may quieten those certain she is simply a dupe of the fossil fuel industries – or, more likely, it will not.

But the fruitless debates about whether Thunberg is being used are irrelevant to this film. That is not where its point or its power lies.

Through Thunberg’s eyes

For 90 minutes we live in Thunberg’s shoes, we see the world through her strange eyes. For 90 minutes we are allowed to live inside the head of someone so sane that we can briefly grasp – if we are open to her world – quite how insane each of us truly is. We see ourselves from the outside, through the vision of someone whose Asperger’s has allowed her to “see through the static”, as she too generously terms our delusions. She is the small, still center of simple awareness buffeted in a sea of insanity.

Watching Thunberg wander alone – unimpressed, often appalled – through the castles and palaces of world leaders, through the economic forums of the global technocratic elite, through the streets where she is acclaimed, the varied nature of our collective insanity comes ever more sharply into focus.

Four forms of insanity the adult world adopts in response to Thunberg, the child soothsayer, are on show. In its varied guises, this insanity derives from unexamined fear.

The first – and most predictable – is exemplified by the right, who angrily revile her for putting in jeopardy the ideological system of capitalism they revere as their new religion in a godless world. She is an apostate, provoking their curses and insults.

The second groups are liberal world leaders and the technocratic class who run our global institutions. Their job, for which they are so richly rewarded, is to pay lip service, entirely in bad faith, to the causes, Thunberg espouses for real. They are supposed to be managing the planet for future generations, and therefore have the biggest investment in recruiting her to their side, not least to dissipate the energy she mobilizes that they worry could rapidly turn against them.

One of the film’s early scenes is Thunberg’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, shortly after she has started making headlines.

Beforehand, Macron’s adviser tries to pump Thunberg for information on other world leaders she has met. His unease at her reply that this her first such invitation is tangible. As Thunberg, herself seems only too aware when they finally meet, Macron is there simply for the photoshoot. Trying to make inane small talk with someone incapable of such irrelevancies, Macron can’t help but raise an eyebrow in discomfort, and a possibly mild reproof, as Thunberg, concedes that the media reports of her traveling everywhere by train are right.

Cynically insane

The third group is the adults who line the streets for a selfie with Thunberg, or shout out their adulation, loading it on to her shoulders like a heavy burden – and one she signally refuses to accept. Every time someone at a march tells her she is special, brave, or a hero, she immediately tells them they too are brave. It is not her responsibility to fix the climate for the rest of us, and to think otherwise is a form of infantilism.

The fourth group is entirely absent from the film, but not from the responses to it and to her. These are the “cynically insane”, those who want to load on to Thunberg a burden of a different kind. Aware of the way we have been manipulated by our politicians and media, and the corporations that now own both, they are committed to a different kind of religion – one that can see no good anywhere. Everything is polluted and dirty. Because they have lost their own innocence, all innocence must be murdered.

This is a form of insanity no different from the other groups. It denies that anything can be good. It refuses to listen to anything and anyone. It denies that sanity is possible at all. It is its own form of autism – locked away in a personal world from which there can be no escape – that, paradoxically, Thunberg herself has managed to overcome through her deep connection to the natural world.

As long as we can medicalize Thunberg as someone suffering from Asperger’s, we do not need to think about whether we are really the insane ones.

Bursting bubbles

Long ago economists made us aware of financial bubbles, the expression of insanity from investors as they pursue profit without regard to real-world forces. Such investors are finally forced to confront reality – and the pain it brings – when the bubble bursts. As it always does.

We are in an ideological bubble – and one that will burst as surely as the financial kind. Thunberg is that still, small voice of sanity outside the bubble. We can listen to her, without fear, without reproach, without adulation, without cynicism. Or we can carry on with our insane games until the bubble explodes.

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair “(Zed Books). His website is here.

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.




10 Good Things About 2019

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. (Photo: Creative Commons)

By Medea Benjamin | Common Dreams

Impeachment, Trump, impeachment, Trump. It’s hard to think of this year without obsessing about the occupant of the White House. But yes, there were lots of other events going on in the world this year. Some of them were tragic, like the coup in Bolivia, but some are hopeful and move us in a positive direction. Here are ten. Please add more.

  1. In January, the most diverse class of lawmakers in U.S. history was sworn into Congress, including a record number of women in the House: 102. Four of the freshman known affectionately as “the squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley—have shown what a few brave women can do to shake up the DC establishment. They denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants on our southern border; pushed for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All; confronted big pharma; started paying congressional interns; refused to take the “mandatory” AIPAC trip to Israel. They changed the Congressional ecosystem and thanks to them, a lot more young progressives are now running for Congress.

  1. The Democratic primaries have forced the country to talk about progressive policies like never before. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pushed Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and policies to address this nation’s horrific inequalities. Tulsi Gabbard has focused on the need to end the endless wars. And compared with 2016, all of the candidates have been more open to directly confronting the military-industrial complex, with vague but critical calls for reducing the overblown Pentagon budget. The debates and campaign rallies have been opportunities to air discussions on real solutions to our nation’s ills, solutions that are not popular with big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

  2. 2019 was a year of awe-inspiring environmental youth activism. The sensational 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden captured world attention at the UN climate summit with her call for young people to hold adults accountable for the disaster they’ve created. Greta’s school strike (she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament instead of going to school) inspired students’ walkouts throughout the world. She also inspired some famous elders: Thanks to Greta, Jane Fonda brought the Fire Drill Fridays to Washington D.C., doing civil disobedience at Congress every Friday and bringing more national attention to the climate crisis.

  1. While the environmental gains this year are not nearly on the level needed, there are countries taking serious actions. The New Zealand parliament passed landmark legislation to achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The legislation establishes New Zealand as one of the few countries in the world with a legislated commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast to Australia, where climate and energy policy has provoked toxic debate and scare campaigns from the far right, the New Zealand bill passed with bipartisan support. The government also established a $100 million Green Investment Fund, which will invest public funds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; plant one billion new trees by 2028, and stop exploration for new oil and gas reserves.

  1. In more environmental news, the European Union banned single-use plastic, including plastic cups, plates, forks, and straws. The ban will take effect by 2021. The change could help avoid nearly $25 billion-worth of environmental pollution by 2030. While the U.S. lags behind at the federal level, jurisdictions across the United States have instituted bans and fees on various types of plastics, like bags, carryout containers, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws. Eight states, including California and New York, have passed statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, while Maine has a ban on single-use polystyrene containers.

  1. While Donald Trump crows about how great the domestic economy is, more and more workers are demanding a fairer share of the pie. Tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, went on strike to win better wages and benefits. G.M. agreed to a path for temps to become permanent workers, and to alter its tiered wage scale. Airline mechanics, including at Southwest Airlines, won raises. The move toward a $15 minimum wage is gaining steam, with 21 states raising minimum wages in 2019 and more increases on the way in 2020.

  1. For Latin America, 2019 was a year of people’s power. There were advances and setbacks, but it’s clear that there is a return of the Pink Tide (the name given to the wave of progressive governments in the late 1990s and 2000s). In this past year, social movements and organized people rose up against neoliberalism in Chile and Ecuador, they defeated a coup in Venezuela, they’re resisting a coup in Bolivia, they rose up against a narco-dictator in Honduras, they rose up against state violence and austerity in Colombia, they took back power in Argentina, they’re transforming Mexico, and, last but not least, in Brazil, they organized a successful and massive international campaign to free former president Lula da Silva.

  1. In the Middle East, people also rose up in a massive repudiation of neoliberal policies and corrupt governments that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations at the expense of working people. In what has been dubbed the Autumn of Discontent, there were uprisings from Iraq to Lebanon, from Iran to Egypt. The repression against activists has been savage, with hundreds killed. In Lebanon, the protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but their goals are broader: They are demanding an end to corruption and mismanagement that results in blackouts and piles of garbage in the streets, as well as the crony sectarianism that enables it.

  1. In Sudan, where the nation suffered for years under the murderous dictatorship of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, people poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. After months of courageous protests in which scores of Sudanese were shot, Abdalla Hamdok took office as prime minister in a power-sharing deal between the armed forces and the pro-democracy movement. the movement won a commitment for a three-year transition leading to elections, and Bashir was sent to prison for corruption. People are still in the streets demanding justice for the people killed in protests. “The victims have the right to truth, justice, and reparations under international law,” said the protesters.

  2. While Trump didn’t fulfill his promise to end our endless wars, and he actually sent 14,000 MORE troops to the Middle East, at least he didn’t start any new wars! Why? The American people have had enough. That hasn’t always been the case. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, most Americans supported both the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But no longer. They want to get out of the wars we are in and don’t want to engage in new ones. When the U.S. accused Iran of a spectacular attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, the hawks in the Trump administration wanted to respond with a military attack. But polls showed a minuscule 13 percent in favor. This has been a restraining factor for Trump and his Warhawks. And let’s remember, this year also marked the downfall of the biggest Warhawk of all, Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Four more years of Donald Trump will be devastating for our nation and our world. No matter what happens with the impeachment process in the Senate, we must mobilize to defeat Trump and build a more effective progressive movement. Remembering some of the gains in the difficult year of 2019 can help inspire us for the critical struggles ahead.

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Her previous books include Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi ConnectionDrone Warfare: Killing by Remote ControlDon’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share it widely.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




For Role in Sparking ‘Worldwide Movement’ to Fight Climate Crisis, Greta Thunberg Named TIME Magazine Person of the Year

Varshini Prakash, a co-founder of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said Thunberg “symbolizes the agony, the frustration, the desperation, the anger—at some level, the hope—of many young people who won’t even be of age to vote by the time their futures are doomed.” (Photo: Time/Screengrab)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg on Wednesday was named TIME magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year for her role in sparking a global youth-led movement that has brought millions into the streets to pressure governments to act on the climate crisis.

TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told NBC‘s “Today” that Thunberg, at just 16 years old, came “from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.”

“I think what she has done, her rise in influence, has been really extraordinary,” said Felsenthal.

Varshini Prakash, a co-founder of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said Thunberg “symbolizes the agony, the frustration, the desperation, the anger—at some level, the hope—of many young people who won’t even be of age to vote by the time their futures are doomed.”

As TIME‘s Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes, and Justin Worland wrote in a feature piece on Thunberg on Wednesday:

Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: “School Strike for Climate.”

In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the president of the United States, and inspired four million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history. Her image has been celebrated in murals and Halloween costumes, and her name has been attached to everything from bike shares to beetles. Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year.

Thunberg, the youngest-ever recipient of TIME‘s Person of the Year honor, has been publicly dismissive of awards for climate action. In an October Instagram post explaining why she would be rejecting the Nordic Council’s 2019 Environmental Award, Thunberg said: “the climate movement does not need any more awards.”

“What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science,” Thunberg added.

The TIME honor came as Thunberg is in Madrid, Spain for COP 25. During a speech at the climate conference Wednesday, Thunberg said there is “hope” in the fight against the planetary emergency.

“But it does not come from the governments or corporations,” Thunberg said. “It comes from the people. The people who have been unaware but are now starting to wake up. And once we become aware, we change. People can change, people are ready for a change… Every great change throughout history has come from the people.”

Watch:




Is Greta Thunberg a Time Traveler ‘Here to Save Us’ From Climate Emergency’? 120-Year-Old Photo Sparks Flood of Conspiracy Theories

Children operating a rocker at a gold mine on Dominion Creek, Yukon Territory in 1898. The young girl in the foreground looks eerily similar to Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg—with the resemblance setting off a wave of good-natured conspiracy theories. (Photo: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections)

By Common Dreams staff | Common Dreams

Is 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg a time traveler “here to save us” from the global climate emergency?

A photo was taken during the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush in Yukon, Canada features a child that so closely resembles the world-renowned climate campaigner that some Twitter users initially dismissed it as a fake.

But the 120-year-old photo was sourced to the University of Washington’s Special Collections archive, leading many to jokingly conclude that Thunberg is a time traveler who arrived in 2019 to warn the world about the planetary climate crisis.

https://twitter.com/tesloan/status/1197513788972507136?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1197513788972507136&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.commondreams.org%2Fnews%2F2019%2F11%2F21%2Fgreta-thunberg-time-traveler-here-save-us-climate-emergency-120-year-old-photo

Thunberg, whose activism sparked a global youth-led climate movement, is currently sailing across the Atlantic after spending more than two months in the United States.

“We had to slow the boat down to avoid some really rough weather ahead, but now we’re back on track at full speed,” Thunberg tweeted Thursday. “Hopefully we will arrive in Lisbon, Portugal, sometime in early December.”

So we know what continent she’s headed to now. The only serious question left to consider is this: Will she arrive on time?

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share it widely.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




‘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.

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams




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.

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future Movement Win Amnesty’s Top Human Rights Award, For ‘Challenging Us All to Confront the Realities of the Climate Crisis.’

“We are now facing an existential crisis, the climate crisis and ecological crisis which have never been treated as crises before, they have been ignored for decades,” activist Greta Thunberg told protesters in London on Sunday. (Photo: @cahulaan/Twitter)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

For their role in sparking a global wave of marches, civil disobedience, and weekly school strikes aimed at pressuring the world’s political leaders to act on the climate crisis, 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and the youth-led movement she inspired were honored Friday with Amnesty International’s top human rights award.

“It is a huge honor to receive Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award on behalf of Fridays for Future,” Thunberg said in a statement. “This is not my award, this is everyone’s award. It is amazing to see the recognition we are getting and know that we are fighting for something that is having an impact.”

“To act on your conscience means that you fight for what you think is right. I think all those who are part of this movement are doing that.”
—Greta Thunberg

The Fridays for Future movement has its origins in Thunberg’s lonely sit-down strike outside of the Swedish parliament building last August when she skipped school to protest lawmakers’ inaction in the face of the global climate emergency.

Since then, Thunberg’s determined and tireless activism has galvanized millions of young people around the world to walk out of class, take to the streets, and demand a rapid transition away from planet-destroying fossil fuels.

“To act on your conscience means that you fight for what you think is right,” Thunberg said Friday. “I think all those who are part of this movement are doing that because we have a duty to try and improve the world. The blatant injustice we all need to fight against is that people in the global south are the ones who are and will be most affected by climate change while they are the least responsible for causing it.”

Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement that the organization is “humbled and inspired by the determination with which youth activists across the world are challenging us all to confront the realities of the climate crisis.”

“Every young person taking part in Fridays for Future embodies what it means to act on your conscience,” said Naidoo. “They remind us that we are more powerful than we know and that we all have a role to play in protecting human rights against climate catastrophe.”

As Common Dreams reported, nearly two million young people from 125 countries took part in Friday climate marches on May 24, and the global movement is expected to continue to grow.

“The youth activists behind Fridays for Future are now calling on adults to join them,” Amnesty said in a statement. “On Friday 20 September, ahead of the United Nation Climate Action Summit in New York, activists will commence a week of climate action with a worldwide strike for the climate. Amnesty International supports the call for all adults who are able to join the strike and show solidarity.”

Kananura Irene—a Fridays for Future activist from Kampala, Uganda—said youth climate leaders “are really determined to finish what we have started because our futures are on the line.”

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




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.




‘We Are the Ones Making a Difference’: Greta Thunberg Addresses Extinction Rebellion in London

“We are now facing an existential crisis, the climate crisis and ecological crisis which have never been treated as crises before, they have been ignored for decades,” activist Greta Thunberg told protesters in London on Sunday. (Photo: @cahulaan/Twitter)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

A day before countries around the world celebrate Earth Day, activist and leader of the School Strike for Climate Greta Thunberg addressed protesters in London who have been occupying a number of major landmarks for almost a week, rallying the demonstrators to continue their fight against the “existential crisis” brought about by climate change.

“Humanity is now standing at a crossroads,” Thunberg told the protesters gathered at the Marble Arch. “We must now decide which path we want to take. How do we want the future living conditions for all species to be? We have gathered here today and in many other places around London and across the world too, because we have chosen which path we want to take and now we are waiting for the others to follow our example.”

Watch:

The demonstrators had joined Extinction Rebellion’s public action, in which members of the movement have also occupied Oxford Circus and Parliament Square and superglued themselves to train cars to disrupt daily life and call attention to the climate crisis.

Police have made at least 963 arrests, according to the Guardian, while London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the demonstrators to disperse. But leaders of the movement say their message is getting out to the public and that disruption is necessary to convey the dire situation in which world governments have placed communities by ignoring the climate crisis for decades.

“People are willing to be arrested,” spokesperson Ronan McNern said in a statement. “What this disruption is doing, we are the news now. It is making people talk in pubs and buses about Extinction Rebellion. It makes them think about their existence which is under threat.”

“We—people in Extinction Rebellion and the children in the School Strike for Climate—we are the ones making a difference,” said Thunberg, who is 16 and started a global movement last fall when she staged a one-person protest outside Swedish Parliament, refusing to attend school unless lawmakers took action to stop the burning of fossil fuels.

“It shouldn’t be like that but since no one else is doing anything we will have to do so,” she continued. “And we will never stop fighting, we will never stop fighting for this planet and for the futures of our children and grandchildren.”

Extinction Rebellion plans to continue its occupation of some London landmarks, with some leaders calling for a new phase of the protests, in which they will vacate some areas in exchange for the government beginning to carry out their demands.

The movement wants lawmakers to declare a climate and ecological emergency; act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and create a Citizens’ Assembly to lead decision-making regarding ecological and climate justice.

“Today marks a transition from week one, which focused on actions that were vision-holding but also caused mass ‘disruption’ across many dimensions (economic, cultural, emotional, social),” wrote environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin. “Week two marks a new phase of rebellion focused on ‘negotiations’ where the focus will shift to our actual political demands. We want to show that XR [Extinction Rebellion] is a cohesive long-term, global force, not some flash in the pan.”

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




In An Emotional Plea, Greta Thunberg Begs EU to Take Urgent Climate Action

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

“My name is Greta Thunberg, I am 16 years old, I come from Sweden, and I want you to panic. I want you to act as if the house was on fire.”

That’s how the young climate activist began her address to members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Tuesday.

In a 13-minute speech that equated civilization to “a castle built on sand” and was punctuated by applause from the chamber, Thunberg admonished the MEPs for inaction on the climate crisis and begged them to “wake up” and “unite behind the science.”

Fighting back tears, Thunberg said that “we are in the midst of  the sixth mass extinction and the extinction rate is up to 10,000 times faster than what is considered normal with up to 200 species becoming extinct every day.”

She also outlined “symptoms of ecological breakdown.”

“Erosion of fertile topsoil, deforestation of our great forests, toxic air pollution, loss of insects and wildlife, the acidification of our oceans—these are all disastrous trends being accelerated by a way of life that we.. see as our right to carry on,” said Thunberg.

“Our house is falling apart, and our leaders need to start acting accordingly—because at the moment they are not,” she said.

If leaders realized the gravity of the crisis, said Thunberg,

You wouldn’t fly around the world in business class chatting about how the market will solve everything… You wouldn’t talk about buying and building your way out of a crisis that has been creating by buying and building things. You wouldn’t hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and environment. You wouldn’t be arguing about phasing out coal in 15 or 11 years…You wouldn’t be celebrating that one nation like Ireland may soon divest from fossil fuels. You wouldn’t celebrate that Norway has decided to stop drilling for oil at the scenic resort of Lofoten Islands but will continue to drill for oil everywhere else for decades.

Thunberg also pointed to the upcoming EU elections as a possible turning point.

“In this election,” said Thunberg, “you vote for the future living conditions for humankind.”

Unlike lawmakers, young people around the world are acutely aware of the urgency, she said.

“Millions of children are taking to the streets school striking for the climate to call attention to the climate crisis,” said Thunberg. “You need to listen to us.”

Thunberg expressed hope that lawmakers would see the walls of the house falling down and do what is right.

“It’s still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision. It will take courage. It will take… fierce determination to act now to lay the foundation,” she said.

“To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible,” said Thunberg. “And it’s OK if you refuse to listen to me. I am, after all, just a 16-year-old schoolgirl girl from Sweden.”

“But you cannot ignore the scientists,” she said. “Or the science. Or the millions of school-striking children striking for the right to a future.”

“I beg you,” said Thunberg. “Please do not fail on this.”

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.