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Climate Change Weekly: Huge youth climate strikes ahead of UN talks, UK PM ‘melts,’ more

  • Big youth climate emergency marches yesterday ahead of the Madrid talks next week.
  • No-show British PM Boris Johnson is replaced with a melting ice sculpture at climate crisis debates.
  • Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s brother Mike says unnecessary emails are hurting the environment.
  • Scottish farmers are successfully growing and irrigating crops with seawater.
  • And more…

Greta Thunberg may still be in the Atlantic, sailing from the US to Europe to attend the UN climate emergency talks in Madrid, which will take place from December 2-13. But she still inspired a huge #fridaysforfuture strike yesterday in preparation for those talks.

Thousands and thousands of young people turned out to strike on week 67 of #fridaysforfuture yesterday, Here’s a look at the various demonstrations around the world, via Twitter:

And Jane Fonda held her weekly Fire Drill Friday, this time with her grandchildren:

Two weeks before the UK general election, five British political party leaders participated in a televised debate about the climate emergency on Thursday. Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson did not attend, and neither did Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party. So Channel 4 put melting ice sculptures shaped like Earth in their places.

In retaliation, the furious Conservatives have threatened to review Channel 4’s broadcasting license after the election.

Johnson did not give an explanation for his absence. Conservative cabinet member offered to take part but was denied. Channel 4 news editor Ben de Pear tweeted:

As the New York Times explains:

Though the leaders emphasized different priorities, all agreed on the urgency of addressing climate change and outlined ambitious proposals, like “a green industrial revolution,” promised by Mr. Corbyn. In June, the Conservative government of Mr. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.

British green energy utility company OVO released a study saying that Brits send more than 64 million unnecessary emails a day. So what does this have to do with the environment? “If every Brit sent one fewer ‘thank you’ email a day, we would save more than 16,433 tonnes [metric tons] of carbon a year — equivalent to 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road.”

Mike Berners-Lee, researcher, author, and brother of internet founder Tim Berners-Lee, says:

While the carbon footprint of an email isn’t huge, it’s a great illustration of the broader principle that cutting the waste out of our lives is good for our well-being and good for the environment. Every time we take a small step toward changing our behavior, be that sending fewer emails or carrying a reusable coffee cup, we need to treat it as a reminder to ourselves and others that we care even more about the really big carbon decisions.

Mike Berners-Lee further explained to the Guardian:

When you are typing, your computer is using electricity. When you press send it goes through the network, and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity. We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.

So this is something for all of us, not just the British, to be more mindful of.

Seawater Solutions is teaching farmers on Scotland’s west coast how to grow crops using seawater.

Samphire, sea blite, and aster are irrigated by seawater, and those crops are becoming increasingly popular.

As Reuters reports, “United Nations data shows two billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – are now using water much faster than natural sources can be replenished.”

Have a look at the video below.

Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson talked out of both sides of his mouth in an exclusive interview with the British tabloid the Sun, which was published on Tuesday. Clarkson intensely dislikes teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. He said:

Everyone I know under 25 isn’t the slightest bit interested in cars — Greta Thunberg has killed the car show.

She’s an idiot. Going round saying we’re all going to die, that’s not going to solve anything, my dear.

He then said of the climate crisis:

Now, what I could do is go on strike, borrow a 50 foot carbon-fiber yacht with back-up diesel engine, sail to America, and shout at President Trump.

I could do that, but it would achieve nothing. So instead, it’s time to talk to scientists.

Somehow, Clarkson appears to have missed Thunberg’s consistent core message, which she repeated to US Congress in September:

I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists. I want you to unite behind the science and I want you to take real action.

The European parliament has declared a global “climate and environmental emergency” ahead of the UN climate conference in Madrid next week.

There were 429 votes in favor, 225 votes against, and 19 abstentions.

Both MEPs and environmental groups warned against symbolic gestures. Greenpeace’s EU climate policy adviser, Sebastian Mang, said:

Our house is on fire. The European parliament has seen the blaze, but it’s not enough to stand by and watch.

The Guardian reports:

MEPs backed a tougher target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, an improvement on the current 40% target, but derided by Green politicians and campaigners as inadequate.

Europe is the first continent to declare a climate and environmental emergency.

A New South Wales koala hospital raised AU$1.82 million as of yesterday in a GoFundMe campaign following Australia’s devastating bushfires. Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s campaign is called, “Help Thirsty Koalas Devastated by Recent Fires.”

Australia’s ABC News reported:

With the number of new drinking stations increased, and a water carrying vehicle to replenish the drinking stations, the campaign announced it would use the excess funds to establish a wild koala breeding program.

As many as 350 koalas were believed to have died during recent bushfires in the area, and the campaign said 75% of the areas in the region hit by fire were prime koala habitat.

Bushfires occur regularly in Australia, but scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate due to climate change would lead to more frequent and more intense fires.

A new Pew Research survey released this week reveals Americans’ views on climate and energy. Here are some highlights:

  • Half of Americans (49%) say human activity contributes a great deal to climate change, and another 30% say human actions have some role in climate change.
  • 67% say the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.
  • 67% say the same about government efforts to protect air and water quality (68%).
  • 62% say that climate change is affecting their local community.
  • There is strong consensus among Democrats (90%, including independents who lean Democratic) on the need for more government efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.
  • The Republican party is more complex; 65% describe themselves as conservative, while 34% are moderate or liberal. A majority of moderate or liberal Republicans (65%, including GOP-leaning independents) say the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change. 24% of conservative Republicans say the same, while 48% think the government is doing about the right amount, and another 26% say it is doing too much.
  • 77% of Americans agree that the more important energy priority should be developing alternative energy sources such as wind, solar power, and hydrogen technology rather than increasing US production of fossil fuels.
  • Most Americans favor expanding solar power (92%) or wind power (85%), including strong majorities of both Republicans and Democrats.
  • 90% of Democrats believe the US should prioritize green energy development.
  • 82% of moderate or liberal Republicans say the US should prioritize alternative energy sources.
  • Conservative Republicans, who represent the party majority, are evenly split over whether to prioritize alternative energy (49%) or expand fossil fuel production (49%).

Check out our past editions of Climate Crisis Weekly.

Photo: Reuters

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.