- The World Economic Forum: What if we actually got things right with fixing climate change?
- Venice’s regional council floods for the first time — right after it voted against climate-crisis action.
- Greta Thunberg sails back to Europe on a catamaran, and leaves the US with some parting advice.
- Scientists are trying to study — and save — the Amazon rainforest, but the Brazilian government is trying to thwart them.
- And more…
We cover a lot of heavy, distressing stuff in this weekly column. Now, let’s envision a future where we actually get it right.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) asked members of their Global Future Councils to “imagine a better world in 2030.” (It sure makes a nice change from dystopia.) Their logic? “Only by thinking about where we want to be tomorrow can we prompt the action we need today.”
Quite right, WEF. Here’s what the futurists had to say:
Here is one version of CO-topia: You walk out of your door in the morning into a green and liveable city. You can choose to call upon a car. An algorithm has calculated the smartest route for the vehicle, and it picks up a few other people on the way. Since the city council has banned private cars in the city, tons of new mobility services have arrived. It is cheaper for you not to own your own car, and it reduces congestion, so you arrive at your destination more quickly and don’t have to spend time looking for parking. There are a lot fewer cars on the streets and the rest are electric. All electricity is green.
Single use plastics are a distant memory. When you buy stuff, you buy something that lasts. But because you buy a lot fewer things, you can actually afford better-quality products. “Refuse, reuse, reduce, recycle” is the new way of looking at things. Because citizens have stopped buying so much stuff, they have more money to spend on services: cleaning, gardening, laundry help, healthy meals, entertainment, experiences, fabulous new restaurants. All of which brings the average modern person more options and more free time. Picking up the mantle against climate change may not be so bad after all.
Venice has suffered the worst flooding this week in 50 years, with more than 85% of the city being affected. At least two people have died, and the city has hundreds of millions of euros of damage.
Venice’s mayor has blamed the flooding on the climate crisis. The World Economic Forum’s video below explains how sea-level rises affect the high tides.
Is this the first step towards uninhabitability?
— World Economic Forum (@wef) November 13, 2019
And in an absolute twist of irony that really isn’t funny in the slightest, Veneto’s regional council, located on Venice’s Grand Canal, was flooded for the first time in its history on Tuesday night — just after it voted against taking steps to address climate change.
Democratic Party councilor Andrea Zanoni, who is deputy chairman of the environment committee, said in a Facebook post:
Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected our amendments to tackle climate change.
Among the rejected amendments were measures to fund renewable sources, to replace diesel buses with “more efficient and less polluting ones,” to scrap polluting stoves and reduce the impact of plastics, he said.
The League disputed Zanoni’s assertion with a statement to CNN:
Beyond propaganda and deceptive reading, we are voting [for] a regional budget that spent €965 million over the past three years in the fight against air pollution, smog, which is a determining factor in climate change.
Italian politics are usually pretty complex, but perhaps they can all agree now, as they wade through water, that Venice has got serious problems caused by climate change, and that they’d better pull together and move quickly to address it.
The dynamo that is climate activist Greta Thunberg is on her way back to Europe after three months spent speaking, striking, and marching in the US. She’s traveling by catamaran owned by a couple who sail with their baby, and the trip is expected to take around three weeks. Thunberg’s father is also on the catamaran. Her departing message to the American people [via the Guardian]:
My message to the Americans is the same as to everyone — that is to unite behind the science and to act on the science.
We must realize this is a crisis, and we must do what we can now to spread awareness about this and to put pressure on the people in power. And especially, the US has an election coming up soon, and it’s very important that for everyone who can vote, vote.
Even if the politics needed doesn’t exist today, we still need to use our voices to make sure that the people in power are focused on the right things. Because this is a democracy, and in a democracy, people are the ones who run the country. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but if enough people were to decide they have had enough, then that could change everything. So don’t underestimate that power.
Thunberg says she’s ready to return home to her school and her dogs. Safe travels, Greta. You’ve achieved incredible things in the US to promote education and awareness.
Scientists in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are collecting vital data that show how our climate is changing. But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is a climate skeptic, and their work is under direct attack. Here’s an excellent 11-minute video from Al Jazeera that explains what’s going on in the Amazon:
New York City is embracing net-zero cycling and walking and wants to “break the car culture.” The Big Apple’s councillors have voted to build nearly 250 miles’ worth of bike lanes protected by physical barriers and redesign 2,000 road junctions to make them safer for pedestrians. Work on the 10-year, $1.7 billion program is due to start in 2021.
The city wants more people to cycle, walk, and use public transport. New Yorkers are increasingly biking: 24% (1.6 million) of New Yorkers have cycled at least once in the past year. Of those 1.6 million, nearly 800,000 ride several times a month. And the barriers will make it much safer, and doubtless encourage even more people to get on their bikes.
Further, the MTA has pledged to convert its bus fleet entirely to electric vehicles by 2040. And that’s great, because the city is going to also create nearly 150 miles of new bus lanes, too.
And it will only improve the city’s air quality. The World Economic Forum reports:
The American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air Survey warned New Yorkers that the air they are breathing “may put your health at risk.” The city was ranked 10 out of 228 metropolitan areas with the highest levels of harmful ozone and 30 out of 203 cities for particulate pollution.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution took a poll about how Georgia voters feel about climate change. Bottom line, 63% of Georgia residents think not enough is being done about the climate crisis.
The survey was conducted from October 30 to November 8 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.
Here’s how the results looked:
- Women were more likely than men to believe more should be done — 66% compared with 58%.
- People with an income of between $100,000 and $150,000 a year were almost three times more likely than the state’s poorest voters to believe the US has acted appropriately.
- 91% of Democrats said more needed to be done on climate, and 30% of Republicans agreed.
- [Now, this is interesting:] Nearly 70% of independents, a key voting bloc in Georgia, said the US’s response was inadequate.
- More than 84% of black voters surveyed said the country’s current response was inadequate, compared with 51% of white voters.
- Roughly three-quarters of voting-age young people — that’s people under 30 — want to see more action to fix the climate crisis.
- About 1 in 4 of the voters between 45 and 64 said the country was doing enough to fight climate change.
In our weekly Jane Fonda Fire Drill Fridays protest watch, here’s what happened yesterday:
Jane Fonda staging a sit in protest over Climate Change. The group saying they need the Green New Deal. Fonda and protestors about to be arrested. Fonda is in middle next to woman in red hat #Protest #Capitol pic.twitter.com/ZK7RJDgkQ5
— Edward Lawrence (@EdwardLawrence) November 15, 2019
Environmental attorney Robert Kennedy Jr., and actors June Diane Raphael and Marg Helgenberger were arrested at the US Capitol during the sixth Fire Drill Friday protest. Abigail Disney was also in attendance for the sit-in. Fonda avoided arrest in order to avoid being incarcerated for a month. There were no arrests last week when Fonda marched with the Ben & Jerry’s founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.
— Fire Drill Fridays (@FireDrillFriday) November 15, 2019
Check out our past editions of Climate Crisis Weekly.
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