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Southern Africa: they’ve had cyclones before, but climate change increases the intensity

Cyclone Idai: The worst humanitarian crisis in Mozambique’s history | DW News

‘Bodies are floating’: Cyclone Idai leaves trail of destruction with more than a million affected, news.com.au Stephanie Bedo and Ben Graham, MARCH 20, 2019

They can’t even count the dead in a city of 500,000 people as chilling images show the unprecedented disaster is far from over.

Countless people have been killed and almost a million left destitute after what could be one of the worst weather-related disasters in the southern hemisphere.

A national disaster has been declared after Cyclone Idai left a trail of death, destruction and homelessness in southern Africa.

Where once streets teemed with life, only the swamped shells of homes are left in the wake of the devastation that has affected millions in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Footage taken from the skies over Mozambique’s central port city of Beira, a city of half a million people, shows there is no discernible trace of life left.

More than 90 per cent of the city was destroyed as 170km/h winds tore across southeastern Africa, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

If the worst fears are realised … then we can say that it is one of the worst weather-related disasters, tropical-cyclone-related disasters in the southern hemisphere,” said Clare Nullis of the UN World Meteorological Organisation.

Emergency workers called it the region’s most destructive flooding in 20 years, and heavy rains are expected to continue until Thursday. In the low-lying coastal city of Beira, the water has nowhere to drain. “This is not going to go away quickly,” Ms Nullis said.

In Mozambique, the rapidly rising floodwaters created “an inland ocean,” endangering tens of thousands of families, aid workers said as they scrambled to rescue survivors and airdrop food, water and blankets to survivors.

Those left clinging to life amid the ruins could be battered by eight-metre waves during high tides over the coming days. Herve Verhoosel of the World Food Program said the crisis “is getting bigger by the hour”.

…. The official death toll of Cyclone Idai — the deadliest storm in generations to hit Mozambique and Zimbabwe — more than doubled to more than 350 overnight, but that is expected to rise again, dramatically.

…… The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating,” said Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.

Mr Nyusi said Idai, which ripped through the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people on Thursday, was a “disaster of great proportions”.

The cyclone struck the Indian Ocean city of Beira late that day and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi, with strong winds and torrential rain lashing the region.

But it has taken days for the scope of the disaster to begin to emerge in Mozambique, which has a poor communication and transportation network and a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.

……United Nations officials said on Tuesday that more than 2.6 million people had been affected and $28 million had been allocated to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi from its emergency response fund. …….. https://www.news.com.au/world/africa/more-than-1000-feared-dead-from-cyclone-in-mozambique/news-story/193caf3fb1ac18040e2891964f969e27

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March 21, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, climate change | Leave a comment

The children’s climate fight is a fight against despair

March 21, 2019 Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Over 1.4 million young people went on strike for climate action

Hong Kong students join global school strike calling for action against climate change

School climate strikes: 1.4 million people took part, say campaigners, Guardian, Damian Carrington, Environment editor @dpcarrington, 19 Mar 2019

Activist Greta Thunberg, 16, says action proved ‘no one is too small to make a difference’  
More than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action, according to environmental campaigners.Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student whose solo protest last August prompted the global movement, said: “We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference.”

Children walked out of schools on Friday in 2,233 cities and towns in 128 countries, with demonstrations held from Australia to India, the UK and the US, according to the Fridays for the Future website. Further strikes are planned for 12 April…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/19/school-climate-strikes-more-than-1-million-took-part-say-campaigners-greta-thunberg

March 21, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The climate change “generation gap”

A generation gap, when it comes to climate change?, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Dana Nuccitelli, March 15, 2019   “……….A record number of Americans now view global warming as a serious threatand blame human activities as the cause. But there is apparently a generation gap out there when it comes to accepting the scientific evidence. And an ethnic gap, a gender gap, and a gap in political leaning—along with whether one can be considered one of society’s “haves” or “have nots.” So, who are these climate deniers? What is their profile?

A June 2014 Washington Post-ABC News poll asked a nationally representative sample of American respondents several questions about their support for climate policies. Specifically, those surveyed were asked whether they would be in favor of government greenhouse gas regulations that increased their monthly energy expenses by $20 per month. Overall, 63 percent of respondents expressed support for the proposed policy, including 51 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats.

Interestingly, there was a significant age gap among the responses. For Democrats under age 40, support for the policy proposal was 78 percent, as compared to 62 percent over age 65. Among Republicans, 61 percent under age 50 supported the proposed regulations, as compared to 44 percent over age 50. According to a Pew Research Center survey, younger Americans are also more likely to correctly answer that the planet is warming and that this warming is primarily due to human activities.

……. A recent survey conducted by the National Center for Science Education found that teachers who identified as Republicans, teachers who regarded the Bible as the actual word of God to be taken literally, and teachers who favored libertarian and small-government views, were all less likely to emphasize the scientific consensus on climate change and more likely to air opposing views in the classroom.

Consequently, this survey of US middle and high school science teachers found that while approximately 70 percent of these teachers spent one to two  hours on climate change per course, only 54 percent taught students about the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. Thirty percent incorrectly characterized climate change as being natural in origin, and 15 percent ignored the origins of climate change or the topic of climate change entirely. Although the survey identified systemic obstacles to teaching about climate change in American classrooms, those obstacles will eventually be overcome, and climate literacy will improve as a result—at least among the younger generation.

Exposure to the opinions of one’s peer group may also help explain the climate age gap, as older men are the most common faces of climate denial. For example, in 2009 the American Physical Society was petitioned by 206 of its members (approximately 0.45 percent of its membership) to change its climate position and reject the expert consensus on climate change. An analysis of the petition signatories by John Mashey found that approximately 86 percent were born before 1950 (compared to approximately 40 percent of the society’s membership as a whole), and 97 percent were born before 1960 (compared to approximately 60 percent of the overall membership). Climate denial conferences are also disproportionately attended by old white men.

But age is not the only predictor of climate change denial.

The climate acceptance ethnicity gap. African- and Hispanic-Americans were also more likely to correctly answer the Pew Research Center climate questions—and to express concern about climate change—than white Americans. ……..

Climate denial caters to a small and dwindling population of old, white, conservative, American men. As with global temperatures, American acceptance of and concern about human-caused climate change is currently at record levels, and is certain to keep rising in the long-term. https://thebulletin.org/2019/03/a-generation-gap-when-it-comes-to-climate-change/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=GenerationGap_03152019

March 21, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power plants under threat from climate change

Susan Stranahan: Climate change’s threat to nuclear plants https://www.twincities.com/2019/03/17/susan-stranahan-climate-changes-threat-to-nuclear-plants/

March 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

International shame for human society, that children have to take the lead on climate action

The Observer view on the school climate strikes: it’s shameful that children need to take the lead https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/17/observer-view-on-schools-climate-strike, Observer Editorial, 17 Mar 19, 
Children are right to call politicians to account over a global crisis   For those who care passionately about our planet’s future, these are dispiriting times. Fossil fuel emissions, which are now causing our world to overheat dangerously, continue to rise despite scientists’ clear warnings about the likely consequences: melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, unprecedented storms, acidifying oceans and spreading deserts.

Such forecasts should have spurred global action a long time ago. Yet politicians across the world have consistently refused to act and for decades have procrastinated, discounting evidence that clearly shows global warming is already affecting our planet. Many factors account for this inaction. Lobbying by oil and gas companies obsessed with short-term gain has certainly been involved. Others have argued that only God can have a planet-wide influence and that humanity is being presumptuous in believing it could alter a global ecosystem. In addition, there are those who believe bids to introduce limits on coal and oil burning are simply the work of leftwing, anti-capitalist conspirators.

Such befuddled notions are no longer acceptable in an overheating world. In failing to act over climate change, our leaders are in real danger of betraying a generation of young people who, in a few decades, are likely to inherit a blighted world that has been denuded of much of its wildlife, coastline and fertile land. The future of our children is being stolen before their eyes.

n the face of this stark scenario, the decision by children round the planet to vent their anger and to stage an international campaign of protests and school walkouts last week is to be welcomed. It was a just response to a global injustice. Without a voice in a political debate in which their future is being threatened by the political inability of their elders, young people have had little choice. Teachers may complain that the disruption caused by last week’s protests only increases their workload and wastes lesson times, but it is clear the campaign is being driven by genuine outrage, a grievance that also explains the considerable breadth of these protests.

From Australia to America, pupils simply put down their books and took to the streets. More than 100 towns and cities in the UK saw protests. In Sydney, about 30,000 young folk held a climate march, while in Delhi more than 200 children walked out of classes.

Equally impressive were the comments and blogs. In India, 13-year-old Arya Dhar Gupta from Gurugram, whose air is some of the world’s most polluted, revealed it was no longer safe for her to play outdoors. Others called for a moratorium on all new coal, oil and gas plants. Some demanded massive investment in renewable energy projects.

But perhaps most telling were the words of Anastasia Martynenko from Kiev. She supported her actions in terms that starkly highlight the depth of her elders’ failures and underline the now desperate need for a reinvigoration of global climate policies. “We are happy to be the driving force… because when our children ask us what have you done for our future, we will have an answer.”

March 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

In over 2000 cities, hundreds of thousands of children left school to protest for climate cxation

Even in chilly Oklahoma, USA – Students rally for climate change

Hundreds of thousands leave schools world-wide to protest climate change inaction, SBS NEWS< 17 Mar 19, Hundreds of thousands of students in more than 2000 cities from Australia to Uganda and Germany left the classroom on Friday to protest government inaction on climate change.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

How Leonardo DiCaprio is fighting climate change with finance 

Putting his money where his mouth  is. Your Money, 18 Mar 2019, Jack Derwin  Digital Journalist,    Oscar-winning actor and Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio has long been an environmental activist, but he’s now turning to the world of finance to help tackle his chosen cause.

DiCaprio has announced he will become a senior adviser to a new $150 million environmental unit at fund manager Princeville Capital that invests directly into tech companies fighting global warming.

Taking to Twitter, it appears he is willing to put his money where his mouth is, becoming an investor himself.

“What I like about Leo’s fund if you are predisposed to wanting to improve the climate or stop climate change, this is a fund that invests in companies that are trying to mitigate the effects of climate change,” The Motley Fool head of investment Scott Phillips told Your Money Live.

The major difference between DiCaprio’s fund and other ethical funds is rather than divesting from big polluters, his is actively investing in potential future solutions…….. https://www.yourmoney.com.au/wealth/investment/leonardo-dicaprio-climate-change/

March 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Schoolchildren around the world “on strike” demanding action on climate change

‘Fridays for future’ marches for climate change going global | DW News

It’s our time to rise up’: youth climate strikes held in 100 countries https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/15/its-our-time-to-rise-up-youth-climate-strikes-held-in-100-countries Sandra LavilleMatthew Taylorand Daniel Hurst, Sat 16 Mar 2019 

School and university students continue Friday protests to call for political action on crisis  From Australia to America, children put down their books on Friday to march for change in the first global climate strike.

The event was embraced in the developing nations of India and Uganda and in the Philippines and Nepal – countries acutely impacted by climate change – as tens of thousands of schoolchildren and students in more than 100 countries went on “strike”, demanding the political elite urgently address what they say is a climate emergency. Continue reading

March 16, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, children, climate change | Leave a comment

Nebraska nuclear station is threatened by flooding, as Missouri River continued to rise

Deadly, Historic Midwest Flooding Threatens Ericson Dam, Nuclear Plant in Nebraska, By Pam Wright and Ron Brackett, weather.com  15 Mar 19, 

At a Glance

  • New evacuations were ordered overnight in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • A Nebraska farmer was killed trying to rescue a stranded motorist.
  • A Nebraska nuclear plant is threatened.
  • A ‘compromised’ dam forced evacuations along the Niobrara River.
  • A third of the 24,000 residents in Norfolk, Nebraska, were ordered to evacuate Thursday.
  • Flooding in parts of the Midwest has left one man dead threatens a Nebraska dam and nuclear power plant as heavy rains mixed with a melting snowpack swell waterways to historic levels……..
  • In Nebraska, a utility company was placing sandbags around a threatened nuclear power plant Thursday as the Missouri River continued to rise, the Omaha World-Journal reports.

    Mark Becker, spokesman for the Nebraska Public Power District, told the newspaper that should the river hit the level of 45.5 feet as projected by the National Weather Services this weekend, the Cooper Nuclear Station, which accounts for 35 percent of NPPD’s power, will have to be shut down………… https://weather.com/news/news/2019-03-14-flooding-severe-tornadoes-nebraska-iowa-texas

March 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

150,000 climate strikers at 60 locations across Australia in schoolchildren’s pprotest

Students strike to demand climate action | ABC News

Climate strikes attract 150,000 supporters, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/climate-strikes-attract-150-000-supporters, 16 Mar 19,   About 150,000 people took part in climate strikes across the country on Friday, with students planning more rallies if their demands for more action aren’t met. About 150,000 students, parents and activists have taken to the streets to protest over the federal government’s inaction on climate change.

Strikes were held across the country on Friday at 60 locations, as part of a global effort to shine a light on climate change.

The protests were estimated to be 10 times the size of those held in November. The students have three demands: stop the Adani coal mine in central Queensland, no new coal or gas, and 100 per cent renewables by 2030.

More strikes will be planned if the students don’t see the action they want from the government.

“If the politicians are just going to throw our futures away there’s nothing we can do but be out here and say: we’re not going to let you do that,” 15-year-old Olivia Boddington told AAP at a climate strike in Canberra.

“We’re not going to just go away.”

Huge crowds gathered across the country on Friday, including at Sydney’s Town Hall Square, outside Melbourne’s Old Treasury Building and in Brisbane’s CBD.

The movement was inspired by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who has been striking for climate action since last August.

The 16-year-old’s activism has earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Senior cabinet minister Christopher Pyne criticised the students for striking, saying the move will damage their education.

However, Labor national president Wayne Swan defended student activism.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Has Been Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2196626-climate-striker-greta-thunberg-nominated-for-nobel-peace-prize/?utm_medium=SOC&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR0ZMZv0QEBy Adam Vaughan

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old from Sweden who started a global movement of schoolchildren striking to demand climate change action, has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

The nomination comes a day before thousands of pupils worldwide are expected to walk out of school in more than 1,600 towns and cities across more than 100 countries.

If she won, Thunberg would be the youngest person to become a Nobel peace prize laureate, a title Malala Yousafzai took as a 17-year-old in 2014 for her work on the right to education.

Climate winner

It would also be only the second time an individual had won for work on climate change. The first was former US vice-president Al Gore, who was awarded the prize in 2007 alongside the UN climate science group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Thunberg tweeted that she was: “Honoured and very grateful for this nomination.”

The nomination was made by Freddy André Øvstegård, a member of the Norwegian parliament, and two colleagues in the Socialist Left Party.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Waste Isolation Pilot Project workers trapped underground during power outage, due to wild weather

WIPP workers trapped underground during power outage

Adrian C Hedden, Carlsbad Current-ArgusPublished 1:14 p.m. MT March 13, 2019 A group of 36 miners at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were trapped underground in an elevator for about three hours, Tuesday due to a power outage during heavy wind and storms.

The facility also ceased operations Wednesday due to an ongoing threat of heavy, damaging winds.

Tornadoes were confirmed Tuesday night in the Dexter and Loving areas.

Bobby St. John, spokesman for Nuclear Waste Partnership said an initial investigation showed WIPP’s utility provider lost power due to the “extreme weather.”……..

Work stoppage a safety measure

James Mason, acting public affairs manager with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office said pausing WIPP operations on Wednesday was meant to ensure worker safety for commutes to and from the facility during the ongoing heavy winds.

The National Weather Service predicted winds in the area could reach up to 80 mph.

“The decision not to work today was based the prediction of 80 mph wind gusts,” Mason said. “With the community out there, with high-profile traffic, it’s a safety measure.”…….https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2019/03/13/wipp-workers-trapped-underground-during-power-outage-tornado/3151570002/

March 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

It is now inevitable that Arctic temperatures will rise sharply

Earth Spasms from Profoundly Abrupt Climate Change

Sharp rise in Arctic temperatures now inevitable – UN https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/13/arctic-temperature-rises-must-be-urgently-tackled-warns-uFiona Harvey, Environment correspondent 14 Mar 2019

Winter temperatures at the north pole are likely to rise by at least 3C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, and there could be further rises to between 5C and 9C above the recent average for the region, according to the UN.

Such changes would result in rapidly melting ice and permafrost, leading to sea level rises and potentially to even more destructive levels of warming. Scientists fear Arctic heating could trigger a climate “tipping point” as melting permafrost releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, which in turn could create a runaway warming effect.

“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” said Joyce Msuya, the acting executive director of UN Environment. “We have the science. Now more urgent climate action is needed to steer away from tipping points that could be even worse for our planet than we first thought.”

The findings, presented at the UN Environment assembly in Nairobi on Wednesday, give a stark picture of one of the planet’s most sensitive regions and one that is key to the fate of the world’s climate.

Last year’s stark warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, setting out the dramatic impacts of 1.5C of global warming, did not include the impacts of potential tipping points such as melting permafrost.

If melting permafrost triggers a tipping point, the likely results would be global temperature rises well in excess of the 2C set as the limit of safety under the Paris agreement. Nearly half of Arctic permafrost could be lost even if global carbon emissions are held within the Paris agreement limits, according to the UN study.

Even if all carbon emissions were to be halted immediately, the Arctic region would still warm by more than 5C by the century’s end, compared with the baseline average from 1986 to 2005, according to the study from UN Environment.

That is because so much carbon has already been poured into the atmosphere. The oceans also have become vast stores of heat, the effect of which is being gradually revealed by changes at the poles and on global weather systems, and will continue to be felt for decades to come.

The assembly heard that there was still a need to fulfil the aims of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change and to take further action that could stave off some of the worst effects of warming in the near term. “We need to make substantial near-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, black carbon and other so-called short-lived climate pollutants all over the world,” said Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland’s environment minister.

Making drastic cuts to black carbon and short-lived pollutants such as methane could reduce warming by more than 0.5C, according to previous research.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Worldwide students strike for climate action, Friday 15 March

Hundreds of Thousands of Students Prepare for Global #ClimateStrike, Truthout Jessica Corbett, , Common Dreams, March 12, 2019 In 92 countries and counting, hundreds of thousands of students are planning to skip school on March 15 as part of the “School Strike 4 Climate” — a growing movement of young people demanding that policymakers worldwide take urgent and radical steps to battle the climate crisis.

For the past several months, students around the world have joined the#FridaysForFuture school strike launched last year by Swedish teenagerGreta Thunberg, whose solitary protests outside her country’s parliament — inspired by the Parkland students advocating for stricter gun laws in the United States — generated headlines that helped spur the global youth climate movement.

“I think we are only seeing the beginning. I think that change is on the horizon and the people will stand up for their future,” Thunberg told theGuardian about the mass mobilization planned for March 15. “It’s going to be very, very big internationally, with hundreds of thousands of children going to strike from school to say that we aren’t going to accept this any more.”

Although the movement has elevated public demands for coordinated global efforts to cut planet-warming emissions generated from human activity, Thunberg added: “I am not more hopeful than when I started. The emissions are increasing and that is the only thing that matters. I think that needs to be our focus. We cannot talk about anything else.” https://truthout.org/articles/hundreds-of-thousands-of-students-prepare-for-global-climatestrike/

March 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change | 3 Comments