What grief for a dying planet looks like: Climate scientists on the edge

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https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2024/6/16/what-grief-for-a-dying-planet-looks-like-climate-scientists-on-the-edge-2

Environmental engineer Wolfgang Metzeler-Kick, centre, and energy engineer Richard Cluse, right, began a hunger strike in March in Berlin, Germany, under the motto “starving until you are honest” in a protest organised by Scientist Rebellion. The protesters seek acknowledgement from the German chancellor of the severity of the climate crisis [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

Desperate climate scientists embrace civil disobedience and specialised therapy to deal with their growing anxiety over global warming.

“I was scared as hell. … I remember feeling very nervous.”

On April 6, 2022, Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, got a ride into downtown Los Angeles, where he was about to handcuff himself to the door of a JPMorgan Chase bank alongside three fellow scientists.

“There was a moment,” he says of the decision to engage in civil disobedience when he “realised that I just had to do it, to find that courage”.

He was joining more than 1,000 activists taking to the streets in nearly 30 countries across the globe under the slogan “1.5C is dead, climate revolution now!” – a campaign led by Scientist Rebellion, an activist group of scientists, academics and students committed to disruptive, nonviolent action to raise alarm over the global climate emergency.

“I was really scared,” Kalmus reiterates over a call, about how his colleagues, the police and, especially, his employer would respond. “I thought there was a very good chance that I’d get fired, which was probably my biggest concern.”

But by that point, he had exhausted all other avenues. For Kalmus, civil disobedience came as a culmination of decades of attempts to raise awareness of the climate emergency by other means. With what he sees as half the country being in denial of the urgency of the climate crisis, Kalmus says he didn’t know what else to do; this was the next logical step and one he admits has been the most effective.

Joining a global day of action in 2022 to ban private jets, Peter Kalmus and local activists chain the doors of a private airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, to underscore the disproportionately high impact the wealthy have in terms of carbon emissions [Courtesy of Will Dickson]

During a speech he delivered that day, which has gone viral around the world, Kalmus is visibly emotional, breaking down in tears as he tells the onlookers: “So I’m here because scientists are not being listened to. I’m willing to take a risk for this gorgeous planet – for my sons,” he gasps as he tries to control the tremor in his voice. “I’ve been trying to warn you for so many decades, and now we’re heading towards a f****** catastrophe.”

After a standoff with police and an eight-hour stint in jail, Kalmus was charged with misdemeanour trespassing, but the charges were later dropped. That first arrest felt exhilarating and freeing, he says, but the incident led to a months-long investigation by NASA’s ethics and human resources departments, and the resulting stress caused Kalmus’s diverticular disease to flare up. While he was stuck in a holding pattern awaiting the outcome of the inquiry, which ended in his favour (Kalmus is still employed by NASA and spoke to Al Jazeera in a private capacity), Kalmus felt like the institution was making a mistake by not supporting his activism “since climate activists are clearly on the right side of history”, he says.

Article continues at https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2024/6/16/what-grief-for-a-dying-planet-looks-like-climate-scientists-on-the-edge-2

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UN climate chief warns of “steep mountain to climb” for COP29 after Bonn blame-game

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https://www.climatechangenews.com/2024/06/14/un-climate-chief-warns-of-steep-mountain-to-climb-for-cop29-after-bonn-blame-game/

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell speaking at the closing plenary. Photo: IISD/ENB – Kiara Worth

Countries expressed disappointment as key negotiations on climate finance and emissions-cutting measures made scant progress at mid-year talks

UN climate talks in Bonn ended in finger-pointing over their failure to move forward on a key programme to reduce planet-heating emissions, with the UN climate chief warning of “a very steep mountain to climb to achieve ambitious outcomes” at COP29 in Baku.

In the closing session of the two-week talks on Thursday evening, many countries expressed their disappointment and frustration at the lack of any outcome on the Mitigation Ambition and Implementation Work Programme (MWP), noting the urgency of stepping up efforts to curb greenhouse gas pollution this decade.

The co-chairs of the talks said those discussions had not reached any conclusion and would need to resume at the annual climate summit in Azerbaijan in November, unleashing a stream of disgruntled interventions from both developed and developing countries.

Samoa’s lead negotiator Anne Rasmussen, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), emphasised that “we really can’t afford these failures”. “We have failed to show the world that we are responding with the purpose and urgency required to limit warming to 1.5 degrees,” she said.

Governments, from Latin America to Africa and Europe, lamented the lack of progress on the MWP because of its central role in keeping warming to the 1.5C temperature ceiling enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

Current policies to cut emissions are forecast to lead to warming of 2.7C, even as the world is already struggling with worsening floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels at global average temperatures around 1.3C higher than pre-industrial times.

https://www.climatechangenews.com/2024/06/14/un-climate-chief-warns-of-steep-mountain-to-climb-for-cop29-after-bonn-blame-game/

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Youth Demand disrupt Labour’s election battle bus

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Youth Demand! protest on Labour's campaign bus, Wrexham 15 Jun 2024.
Youth Demand protest on Labour’s campaign bus, Wrexham 15 Jun 2024.

Three Youth Demand supporters have disrupted Keir Starmer’s election battle bus. They are demanding a two-way arms embargo on Israel and for the incoming UK government to halt all new oil and gas licences granted since 2021.

At around 9:15am the group climbed onto the battle bus as it was parked up for Labour’s campaign rally in Wrexham. The group stood on the roof of the bus holding Palastinian flags and a banner reading ‘Youth Demand an End to Genocide’. They could be heard chanting “Keir Starmer you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!”.

One of those taking action this morning is Jazz, 22, a support worker from Manchester who said:

“I cannot remain silent whilst our government continues to fuel genocide in Palestine and with the climate crisis. Both the Tories and Labour have shown that they don’t give a shit about those suffering in Palestine and in the global south. Their lack of humanity is disgusting. 

By voting Labour you are still voting for a party that refuses to stop buying and selling weapons with Israel. We refuse to inherit a world of suffering, Labour will not get away with their inhumanity. We cannot vote our way out of this – we must act!”

Also taking action is Chester Powell, 23, a student from Leeds, who said:

The Labour Party refuses to call for an end to the buying and selling of arms with Israel, arms that are being used to enact a genocide. We can’t vote our way out of this problem so I’m taking part in civil disobedience to force necessary change. 

How can I have a hope for the future when the people in power only seem to be concerned with winning the next election. I can’t have hope that either of the major parties have any interest representing ordinary people over big business. Neither seems to show any empathy for the Palestinians as they are slaughtered in the thousands, so young people like myself must show them what having a spine looks like.”

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‘Our Leaders Are Not Leading’: Groups Decry Yet Another G7 Climate Failure

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Original article by BRETT WILKINS republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (center) looks toward Pope Francis as he speaks during the G7 Leaders Summit in Fasano, Italy on June 14, 2024. 
(Photo: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

“If these embattled leaders want to leave a lasting legacy, they need to heed the will of voters demanding a safe environment and climate,” one campaigner asserted.

As the Group of Seven summit wrapped up Friday in Italy, climate defenders condemned G7 leaders for their continued failure to take meaningful action to combat the worsening planetary emergency.

Taking aim at what critics called the G7 leaders’ largely empty pledge to undertake “concrete steps to address the triple crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss,” 350.org U.S. campaigns manager Candice Fortin lamented that “yet another meeting ends without real commitments to revert the situation rich countries like the U.S. put us in.”

“As COP29 approaches and the world deals with worsening climate impacts, we can’t afford to waste more time,” Fortin said, referring to the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled to take place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan—a major fossil fuel-producing nation—in November. COP29 is set to be chaired by a former oil executive.

“If the U.S. wants to pride itself on being a ‘world leader,’ it needs to show how it will pay its climate debt to climate-vulnerable countries that bear the most significant climate impacts without the necessary funds for adaptation,” Fortin added.

While G7 governments hailed their recent agreement to phase out existing unabated coal power generation in energy systems during the first half of the 2030s, critics took issue with the policy’s timeline and banks’ continued financing of fossil fuels.

“Our leaders are not leading. In the hottest 12 consecutive months of recorded human history, our leaders are failing us,” argued Bronwen Tucker, Oil Change International’s public finance lead. “G7 countries are adopting an inadequate coal phaseout date and endorsing increased fossil gas production, sending a terrible signal at a time when countries should be focusing on accelerating the phaseout, not delaying it.”

Tucker continued:

G7 leaders can’t say they’re committed to a livable climate while expanding and bankrolling the fossil fuel industry at home and abroad. At the same time, these rich countries should not be congratulating themselves for delivering $100 billion for climate finance two years too late. Trillions are needed to cover climate damages and the G7’s finance was largely provided as loans which only worsens unjust debts.

“The G7 must end the billions of dollars in taxpayer finance still flowing to fossil fuel projects abroad and fund the buildout of affordable renewable energy on fair terms,” Tucker asserted. “If their oil and gas expansion plans are allowed to proceed, it will lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future.”

Greenpeace International climate politics expert Tracy Carty said in a statement that “if these embattled leaders want to leave a lasting legacy, they need to heed the will of voters demanding a safe environment and climate.”

“Taxing the billions of dollars in profits of the fossil fuel industry to fund climate action at home and abroad could be their stake in history and a win for people and planet,” Carty continued. “G7 leaders need to seize the moment ahead of the U.N. climate talks in Baku and show they will lead the transition away from fossil fuels and build trust they will significantly increase climate finance support to developing countries.”

Original article by BRETT WILKINS republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

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Why I Was Arrested for Protesting Citigroup’s Funding of Climate Chaos

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Original article by SANDRA STEINGRABER republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Scientist Sandra Steingraber is arrested outside Citigroup’s New York City headquarters on June 12, 2024.
 (Photo: Alec Connon)

I am here today to say to Citi that if you won’t listen to the data of scientists, you will need to listen to the bodies of scientists blocking your doors.

Editor’s note: The following is a speech read by Sandra Steingraber before being arrested outside Citigroup’s New York City headquarters on June 12, 2024.

My name is Sandra Steingraber. I have a PhD in biology, and I’ve worked as a scientist my whole adult life.

Here are two things biologists are worried about.

The first thing is happening in the ocean. When fossil fuels are burned and CO2 fills the atmosphere, some of it falls into the sea.

When carbon dioxide touches water, it turns into carbonic acid: H2CO3.

Acid makes calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolve. Seashells are made of calcium carbonate. So fossil fuels are turning our oceans into pits of acid, and animals made of shells are starting to dissolve.

I did not become a biologist to write eulogies for the species I study.

All together, the babies of animals with shells are called zooplankton.

Zooplankton are the basis of the marine food chain.

If you dissolve their parents, zooplankton disappear—along with the fish who eat them.

One half of the world’s human population depends on fish for protein. The pH of the oceans is now on track to crash the world’s fish stocks. As a biologist I worry about that.

Now let’s go on land and look at bees. Bumblebees also have babies, and they need to stay cool. So adult bees beat their wings like a thousand little ceiling fans to cool the bee nursery. But they can’t keep up due to more intense heatwaves. Baby bees are dying. Populations are crashing.

Bees help plants have sex. Bees turn flowers into fruits, nuts, vegetables. One-third of the food we eat is made for us by bees. And they do it for free. It’s called an ecosystem service.

If we lose the bees, crops fail. This is how the ecological crisis becomes a human rights crisis. Biologists are worried about this

I have studied climate change since 1982. I’ve testified. I’ve sent letters to the White House. I’ve met with the science adviser. I went to the Paris climate talks. But CO2 levels just reached a new high, and Citigroup is financing the arsonists.

Citi has poured $396 billion dollars into the fossil fuel industry just since 2016.

So, I am here today to say to Citi that if you won’t listen to the data of scientists, you will need to listen to the bodies of scientists blocking your doors. Today my body is a data point. And all together, all these data points on this blockade line make a trend. The trend is that when extinction rates accelerate, scientists get louder.

My message to Citi CEO Jane Fraser: I did not become a biologist to write eulogies for the species I study. I am morally obligated to use my knowledge to defend life against extinction and oppose those who finance it.

Original article by SANDRA STEINGRABER republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Experienced climbers scale a rock face near the historic Dumbarton castle in Glasgow, releasing a banner that reads “Climate on a Cliff Edge.” One activist, dressed as a globe, symbolically looms near the edge, while another plays the bagpipes on the shores below. | Photo courtesy of Extinction Rebellion and Mark Richards
Experienced climbers scale a rock face near the historic Dumbarton castle in Glasgow, releasing a banner that reads “Climate on a Cliff Edge.” One activist, dressed as a globe, symbolically looms near the edge, while another plays the bagpipes on the shores below. | Photo courtesy of Extinction Rebellion and Mark Richards
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