Greta Thunberg

A breath of fresh air for Earth Day: Pristine, pure air discovered over the Amazon Rain Basin.

Earth Day beckons. The worldwide Extinction Rebellion protests continue, despite concerted efforts to silence them. Sir David Attenborough, 92, and Greta Thunberg, 16, have been passionate, and prominent, speakers for our threatened and increasingly fragile natural world, and the endangered species who cannot speak for themselves.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the powers-that-be — the world’s major financial institutions, the oil- and gas industry and government policymakers — are going to pay lip service, and no more than that, to the idea that our children and grandchildren’s future is finished unless something is done, and done now, about our increasingly evident climate emergency.

These past few days, on the same weekend an exhausted, disoriented polar bear wandered into the isolated village of Tilichiki on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsular, having floated some 700 km (450 miles) away from its home in the Arctic Circle on an ice floe, there was a remarkable discovery in the faraway Amazon rainforest.

©Leonid Shelapugin/Moscow Times

©Leonid Shelapugin/Moscow Times

The discovery was actually made a while ago, but has only now come to light following reports on BBC’s World News service and PBS News Hour in the US: Researchers from Washington State’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found a baseline of pure, pristine air over the Amazon, and is using it to show how we’re messing with climate, by comparing the pristine air to samples of “dirtied” air taken not so far away, over remote jungle towns and logging camps that are expanding rapidly throughout an area dubbed “the lungs of the Earth.”

A team of researchers discovered the pristine air — air that dates back to pre-Industrial times — by flying a specially fitted Gulfstream jet with specialized instruments designed to identify and record particles of air virtually unchanged since before Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Lost World.

©Popular Science

©Popular Science

The Amazon rainforest covers some 6 million square km (2 million square miles) of the South American landmass. It produces so much carbon — and produces so much life-giving oxygen — that it is truly the last, best hope for humankind, and for planet Earth.

And yet, the city of Manaus, Brazil — population 2 million — lies in the heart of the rainforest, with all the overcrowding, environmental destruction and deleted natural resources that come with a city of that size.

This is the classic good-news/bad-news story. The good news is that, on this Earth Day, there remains at least one place on Earth where the air survives as if the human footprint had never happened. The bad news is that the researchers have discovered that human pollution is driving the acceleration of climate-changing particles — aerosols — much more quickly than previously thought. These particles are not just a driver of climate change. They can cause heart disease and damage our lungs and other organs, not just in the immediate area but halfway around the world.



The researchers’ results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

If there’s any good news in all this, it’s that science now has a baseline to create a new standard of what clean, pure air on Earth is supposed to be, and can be if we apply enough effort, energy and human brain power to solving our climate crisis.

As one of the lead researchers told PBS’s Seattle TV affiliate KCTS-9, “We can (now) look back at the Amazon and see how much we’ve been changing it, and how much we will continue to change it (if we don’t do something soon).”

The die is not cast — yet. But it’s getting closer. The  urgency is real, and people need to know the truth.

The true cause and effects of climate change: The most under-reported story in science and the environment.

Seeing is not always believing. I’m writing this just minutes after hundreds of police officers closed in on Extinction Rebellion protesters on the fifth day of largely peaceful demonstrations in central London. More than 500 people have been arrested at protests on Waterloo Bridge, outside Parliament Square and in Oxford Circus. Police surrounded a pink boat — yes, you read that right — in Oxford Circus with the words, “Tell The Truth” emblazoned across its hull, moments after the actress Emma Thompson told activists that her generation has “failed young people” — the same message 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, 44 years Thompson’s junior, impressed on MEPs, members of the European Parliament, earlier in the week.

“We are here in this little island of sanity and it makes me so happy yo be able to join you all and add my voice to the young people here who have inspired a whole new movement,” Thompson told the crowd, in what sounded like pre-prepared, carefully rehearsed comments. She’s an actress, after all.

©Evening Standard

©Evening Standard

The police, London mayor Sadiq Khan and newspaper editorial writers don’t see it that way, of course. Drivers inside London’s fee-generating Decongestion Zone — the clue is in the name — should be allowed to drive unimpeded, it appears. Making money is more important than the environment. Gas guzzlers are fine, thank you very much, as long as you’re willing to pay the surcharge on your gas-guzzling older model vehicle, on top of the charge you already pay for driving through the centre of London.

The police were certainly pre-prepared. BBC reported many of the officers were wearing high-vis jackets sporting the words “Protestor Removal Team,” something they wouldn’t have bothered with had they no intention of removing protestors.

It’s worth remembering that it’s now the weekend,  and a long weekend at that. Or, as they call it in Britain — irony unintended — a “bank holiday weekend.”

©Sky News/YouTube

©Sky News/YouTube

The protests come at a time when many of the same media outlets that are criticizing the demonstrations with op-ed pieces headed, “The Extinction Rebels have got their tactics badly wrong,” have said — in separate pieces, written by other writers — that climate change and, more importantly, the cause(s) that lie behind climate change, is the single most overlooked, under-reported story in media today.

©Sky News/YouTube

©Sky News/YouTube

That will doubtless sound counterintuitive to anyone reading this page, or who follows groups like SeaLegacy and the Rare & Endangered Species Trust (REST Namibia) on Facebook, where the news seems to be nothing but climate change. For all their passion, though, these are niche audiences — the mainstream news, even on Earth Day weekend, is all about Trump, Brexit and Notre Dame Cathedral, and who’s going to be named “Head of Household” this weekend on Big Brother: Canada.

And the news on Trump has nothing to do with his stance on climate and the environment (“HIs ignorance is startling,” according to the journal Oil Change International) but rather his propensity for corruption, obstruction of justice and currying favour with his country’s traditional enemies in order to win an election against an unpopular opponent — two years ago.

©Image by Pete Linforth/Pixabay

©Image by Pete Linforth/Pixabay

“Hearts and minds will not be won with protest puppetry, guerrilla gardening and talk of climate justice,” the protest’s detractors say, citing the usual bromides: Blocking bridges, disrupting public transport and gluing themselves to fences outside politicians’ homes is no way to effect change, leaving aside the fact that street demonstrations in Paris in May, 1968 did exactly that, and shaped French society for decades — decades — afterwards. The May 1968 street protests in France are today considered a cultural, social and moral turning point in that nation’s history. The 1968 Paris demonstrations succeeded in part, activist and then-protest leader Alain Geismar — a physicist sentenced to 18 months in jail for his actions — would point out, because they were “a social revolution, not a political one.”

The Extinction Rebellion protests might yet mark a turning point in what to date has been a struggle for climate activists to seize the public conversation. The old simp about how meaningful and long-lasting change requires more talk and less direct action no longer holds water — pun intended. The climate crisis is no longer a crisis but an emergency. The time for talk is over. Climate model after climate model shows that the process of global warming is accelerating at a pace beyond even the most pessimistic — some would say realistic — projections. It’s no longer enough to say Canada’s Northwest Passage will be free of summer ice in our lifetime — it is already ice-free in the summer months. As the David Attenborough Netflix program Our Planet documented painfully in its episode about the polar regions, Arctic sea ice has vanished to the point where walruses are dying from jumping off rock cliffs, thinking they’ll land in water. This is happening now, today, not in some abstract future. And that’s what the Extinction Rebellion protests are about. They’re a call to action. And whether you choose to believe 60-year-old Emma Thompson or 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, it’s time for everyone to wake up.

©Image by Gerd Altmann /Pixabay

©Image by Gerd Altmann /Pixabay

Here are the ways climate change has gone unreported by the mainstream media in the past year, according to a study by the NGO Care International that analyzed more than one million online news stories.

Climate change was directly responsible for the majority of humanitarian disasters over the past year. Entire populations were affected by food crises caused by drought or hurricane flooding in countries from Ethiopia, Sudan and Chad to the Philippines, Madagascar and Haiti, and yet few of these crises generated more than 1,000 news stories each.

In Madagascar, more than a million people went hungry as corn and rice fields withered in a drought exacerbated by severe El Niño conditions. Today, almost half that country’s children suffer from stunted growth, according to CARE International, but their suffering has generated scant few headlines. Across the globe, extreme weather events claimed more than 5,000 lives in 2018 and left 25 million people in need of humanitarian aid and emergency assistance. 

As Asad Rehman, executive director of the NGO War on Want, told The Guardian, “Climate change reporting prefers pictures of polar bears to those who we are killing with our inaction.”

Dr. Viwanou Gnassounou, assistant secretary general of the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group of states and the point person on ACP’s program for sustainable development, told The Guardian that donor countries often link aid to an agreement to remain silent on the climate change.

©Image by Robert Jones/Pixabay

©Image by Robert Jones/Pixabay

“We try always to show that these disasters are linked to climate change but we have to fight to get our points heard. We have not been very successful until now. The media coverage is poor and reported in terms of ‘disaster’ — not linked to climate change or its consequences.

“They will never say it formally but it is part of the conversation,” Gnassounou told The Guardian. “They prefer that you condemn yourself by saying you did not have a proper policy to prevent disaster and now you need their support.”

Contrast that with what some of the demonstrators were telling local papers these past few days in London.

Here was Cathy Eastburn, 51, who told reporters she decided to take a stand for her teenage daughters. “I don’t want to be here today, and I’m really sorry for the disruption, but I feel I have been forced to do this,” she told The Guardian’s Matthew Taylor and Damien Gayle. “I have two daughters and I can’t sit by while their future is threatened … The government is doing nothing. We have to force them to act.”

Given the stakes involved, an extra weekend of traffic disruption in central London seems a small price to pay to get the rest of world to wake up.

Skolstrejk för klimatet — a Children’s Crusade for the 21st century.

Twelve days ago, on March 1st, 150 students with the School Strike for Climate movement, aka #FridaysForFuture, signed a joint letter to the world demand action from their elders — us —to prevent further degradation to the global environment. The movement formed a number of years ago, but it wasn’t until 15-year-old Swedish ninth grader Greta Thunberg staged a one-person protest outside the Swedish Riksdag parliament in late August after a summer of heat waves and wildfires across the Nordic country that the movement gained traction. Thunberg vowed not to return to school until the Swedish general election on Sept. 9. Perhaps it says something about the Swedish education system that schools there were in session long before end end of summer holidays across North America, but that’s the Nordic mindset for you.

©Michael Campanella/The Guardian

©Michael Campanella/The Guardian

As it happened, her protest, while easy to dismiss — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison famously huffed that these kids today need “more learning in schools and less activism,” thus proving Thunberg’s point about Herberts being completely tone deaf, not just on climate but on any number of other issues — spread like autumn mushrooms in an old-growth forest. By December, student strikes had expanded to nearly 300 cities around the globe, from Australia, Austria and Belgium to Switzerland, Uganda, the UK and the US.

Thunberg herself points to an unlikely source of inspiration for her What-Do-Kids-Know-Anyway protest: the student activists at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who staged their own protest march, March for Our Lives, in the wake of a deadly school shooting earlier that year that claimed 17 lives.

Thunberg, whose bright yellow rainjacket and hand-drawn sign Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate) became impossible to overlook outside the Swedish parliament, galvanized school students around the world to take part in student strikes each Friday,  and make their voices heard.

@Washington Post/Getty Images alexandria villasenor

@Washington Post/Getty Images alexandria villasenor

Last month, the movement claimed its first political scalp, a regional environment minister in Belgium, just days before winning endorsements from climate scientists and environmental groups across the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Flanders politician and then-environment minister Joke Schauvliege resigned on Feb. 5, days after falsely claiming that Belgium’s state security agency had evidence that the school strikes were “a set-up.” Days later, more than 300 Dutch scientists signed an open letter in support of the school strikes, writing, “On the basis of the facts supplied by climate science, the campaigners are right. That is why we, as scientists, support them.

Not to be outdone, on Feb. 13, more than 200 academics across the UK signed a letter in support of the advocacy group Extinction Rebellion, writing that they were giving their “full support to the students” backing the School Strike for Climate movement.

All this is pointing toward Friday’s moment of truth, the most widespread strike yet, endorsed by some of the world’s most pro-active, high-profile environmental groups, with 450 events planned in 54 countries — this, according to the website

©Elizabeth Ubbe/The New York Times

©Elizabeth Ubbe/The New York Times

Thunberg was among 150 co-signers of an open letter in The Guardian on March 1st, which read in part, “We finally need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis. It is the biggest threat in human history and we will not accept the world's decision-makers’ inaction that threatens our entire civilization . . . . Climate change is already happening. People did die, are dying and will die because of it, but we can and will stop this madness. . . . We demand the world’s decision-makers take responsibility and solve this crisis. You have failed us in the past. If you continue failing us in the future, we, the young people, will make change happen by ourselves. . .”

It’s easy to pull a Scott Morrison and be cynical about this — what the hell does a 16-year-old know? — but, simply by looking around us with our eyes open and taking in the big picture, it’s easy to see that the environment is ailing and that climate change, while a terrible scourge in itself, may be a symptom of an even wider, more serious malaise. At best, colder winters and hotter summers are an inconvenience — an inconvenient truth, if you will. At worst, they could signal a looming mass extinction — the end of the Anthropocene era, in a blink-of-an-eye compared with how long it took the dinosaurs to die out.

©Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

©Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

Seeing the starry-eyed idealism of “the climate kids” and watching the way adult cynics, duplicitous politicians and the slick, self-styled Saurons of the fossil-fuel industry round on Thunberg, Xiuhytexcatl Martinez and others — just as the NRA gun lobby and Republican politicians rounded on the Parkland students before them — it’s hard not to be reminded of historical accounts of the Children’s Crusade in the early 13th century. That was a crusade that ended in catastrophe for the children involved, remember, with  many of them sold into slavery after being tricked by merchants along the way who promised them safe passage to the Holy Land.

A revisionist version published in 1977, by the Dutch historian Peter Raedts, has it that the children were not children at all but rather bands of “wandering poor” from Germany and France who had little intention of ever reaching the Holy Land.

©HIstory Channel/YouTube

©HIstory Channel/YouTube

One thing about climate change, though, if it’s real — and few can now doubt that is, not given the recent paroxysms of climate extremes — is that it won’t be subject to interpretation or revisionism. The effects won’t be limited to a small corner of the globe, or even continental Europe, for that matter. They will be worldwide, global, from pole to pole and from Asia to Australia, taking in Africa and the Americas along the way.

That’s why this particular Children’s Crusade is meaningful. It matters.

Banner image ©Michael Campanella for The Guardian, 2019.

©Elizabeth Ubbe/The New York Times

©Elizabeth Ubbe/The New York Times

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Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 11.02.01 PM.png

The 'Climate Kids' and #FridaysForFuture: "There is no Planet B."

“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city,” Barack Obama famously said in his stirring, still memorable speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. “And if it can change a city, it can change a state, it can change nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

Little more than a week before the planned worldwide strike on March 15 by students and grade-school pupils protesting the effects of climate change on future generations, support is surging for the legal case Juliana v. United States, in which 21 young people have sued the US federal government over climate change. A “Young People’s Brief” amicus brief was filed in US court last Friday, alongside briefs filed by environmenatlaist, women’s groups, business leaders and eight members of the US Congress in support of a case that has been before the courts for months now. On two separate occasions, US federal administrations — first under Barack Obama and again under Donald Trump — have tried to have the lawsuit tossed out of court. The government has lost both times. A early, lower-court ruling by an Oregion judge, giving legal reasons why the case should be allowed to continue, was appealed to the US Supreme Court twice. Both times, the Supreme Court sided with the climate activists over the government.


Students and school pupils from some 50 countries have said they will rally together in the March 15 demonstration, even as the strike is being dismissed on both the right and left as a cheap publicity gimmick — so much hot air, if you will — and an excuse to skip school for a day.

As it is, school students in Australia, France, the UK, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Thailand, Colombia and Uganda have already skipped a day of school to demand stronger climate action from their governments, as part of 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture climate campaign. Thunberg, who started the whole process as a solo campaigner outside the Swedish parliament last year, has become a lightning rod for both praise and controversy, and has been mentioned as a possible Nobel Peace Prize candidate, and was recently invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Some saw this as a cyncial ploy on the part of fat-cat industrialists who have already done their part to wreck the planet, but the truth is that — whether useful idiot or Nobel material — Thunberg herself couldn’t really give a (compost heap) how she’s perceived. The issue is what drives her, and that’s what has made her such a compelling voice for climate activism. She really couldn’t care whether she wins the Nobel Prize or gets to dine at Davos (don’t feed her lobster!) or not, and she’s the first to lash out sharply at soothing but empty feel-good words from those in power. Words don’t count anymore, actions do. She’s told people on her own side that. Actions deferred, whether it’s the Paris Agreement or tepid promises at the climate conference in Rio de Janeiro to scale back carbon emissions by 2050 mean nothing, she says. We need action, and we need it now.


That this argument was first made by a 15-year-old would have seemed laughable a year ago, and the truth is that many people did laugh at the time.

Well, they’re not laughing now.

In a stroke of good timing — though, knowing the way the media works, I suspect it was planned that way all along — 60 Minutes’s Steve Kroft presented a news segment, The Climate Kids, on North America’s most-watched news-magazine program this past weekend. The amicus brief this past Friday was co-signed by 30,000 young people. Now, all of a sudden, those 21 students who filed the original court case have swelled in number to the tens of thousands.

That number will only grow on March 15.

Will any of this make any difference? It’s hard to tell. I’ve commented here about how the 1973 Hollywood thriller Soylent Green, itself based on the dystopian sci-fi novel Make Room! Make Room! by the American novleist Harry Harrison, eerily foreshadowed a world overrun by too many people and choked by carbon emissions, where fresh strawberries are a near-priceless luxury that only multi-millionaires and captains of industry can afford — until they’re murdered as part of a corporate coverup, in case the proles — i.e. us — find out what’s really going on and rebel against their masters.


Soylent Green proved popular in its day, and has endured enough to be referenced even today— but as Greta Thunberg would point out, so what? What’s actually been done? 62 million American voters voted for Donald Trump to be their president, and this is a man who doesn’t even beliheve there’s a problem.

Xiuhytexcatl Martinez, the 19-year-old indigenous environmental activist and youth director of the self-explanatory Earth Guardians, is one of the lead plaintiffs in the suit, alongside climate scientist Dr. James Hansen. The suit — which many dismissed at the time, remember — argues that the US federal government has failed itd responsiblity to safeguard the health of future generations. The very air we breathe is at risk from rising carbon-dioxide emissions, which in turn affects global warming, a now-unfashionable phrase that most if not all legitimate climate scientists agree is the prime driver behind climate change. “What’s at stake right now,” then-15-year-old Martinez told the UN General Assembly in 2015, “is the existence of my generation.”

climate6 Xiuhytexcatl Martinez.jpg

Hyperbole? Perhaps. Possibly . . . probably, in fact. We can’t say we weren’t warned. Soylent Green went over this same ground in 1973, after all.

Finding light in the darkness: An elephants’ tale for Christmas.

Christmas. An uncertain ending to a bleak year. And, to those who pay attention to such things, signs of more bleakness to come. Hurricanes, cyclones. Droughts, forest fires. Dying oceans. Shrinking glaciers, melting polar ice caps. A climate emergency in the present, and a looming mass extinction in the future. Feckless leadership. Unquestioning followers. In the kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King.

Christmas is traditionally a time of hope and spiritual renewal, regardless of one’s social, political and religious affiliations, but this Christmas seems empty somehow — a throwback to Dickensian times, perhaps, this time with the added distraction of frenzied technology and the ever-present threat of Big Brother, looming over us, driven and enflamed by social media.

And yet.

There are still good, kind people out there. Science and technology is still capable of producing surprises. And miracles. There have been scientific advances in the past year that take the breath away.

Earlier this month, a 15-year-old, Greta Thunberg of Sweden, and a 92-year-old, Sir David Attenborough, stood and delivered before an international conference on climate change, and the world listened.

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

NASA landed a space probe on a predetermined, precise spot on the red planet, Mars, after a journey that lasted seven months, over 300 million miles.

The true wonder, which would’ve been unthinkable just a few years ago, was that NASA’s InSight probe beamed pictures from a neighbouring planet, in real time, in such a way that you could watch them on a screen the size of your hand, on your phone.

And in an early Christmas present for anyone who cares about elephants and the health of the world’s remaining wild creatures, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the African country of Zambia, together with the conservation NGO Elephant Connection Research Project ( ECR), provided long-awaited proof of the viability of “wildlife corridors” that connect far-flung populations of wild animals across national, political boundaries. Wildlife corridors for animals such as elephants are essential for the revitalization of threatened and endangered species.

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

In the case of the Zambia elephant, the pleasure lies in the details. An elephant bull was fitted with a remote tracking collar in 2017. In the past year, he was shown to have walked a long, circuitous route from his original home in in Zambia’s Sioma Ngwezi National Park to neighbouring Kafue National Park, a distance of 390 kilometres, in 14 days, accompanied by six other elephants, through another country.

In moving to Kafue from Sioma Ngwezi through the broader Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), this elephant and his companions demonstrated that restless tuskers wander in and out of neighbouring countries whenever the mood suits them.

Elephants have been known to wander back and forth between Namibia, Zambia, Angola, Botswana and even neighbouring Zimbabwe and South Africa. The regional transfrontier park system, as represented by the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, recognizes the right of wild animals to travel across national boundaries in protected areas, regardless of any political tensions that may exist between countries. The transfrontier park system was originally proposed in part, co-developed, established and enforced by one of the region’s great elder statesmen. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. His name was Nelson Mandela.

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

Information and knowledge are vital not just to existing wildlife populations, but for future populations as well. WWF Zambia’s communications officer, Nchimunya Kasongo, noted in a press statement that this isn’t just about elephants. Information gleaned from the satellite-collaring of elephants in Zambia — 15 collared to date — is crucial to understanding the right and wrong way to use land in such a way that subsistence farmers won’t be terrorized by seven-ton elephants, and the elephants in turn won’t be shot by angry farmers. It’s all about lessening the chances for human-wildlife conflict.

The future of the world’s large endangered wild animals, not just elephants but also rhinos, lions, gorillas, jaguars and polar bears wildlife is not only tied to climate change and habitat loss but also making sure the animals who call the wilderness home and the people who live there don’t come into conflict.

Why does this matter? We’ve trashed the planet in recent decades, in thrall to the demands a miserable, insecure society, even as the language of environmental protest has changed. A new, younger generation is involved, and they are engaged in ways we never were. Many of them know, even if we have forgotten, that economics and the environment are inextricably interwoven, in the same way an elephant from Kafue, Zambia is connected to another elephant from Khaudom National Park in Namibia.

Here’s one final thought to leave you with, on this Christmas Day 2018, this one brought to you by Natalie Bennett, former leader of the Green party in Wales and England, writing in The Guardian:

“History is not pre-written, or destined to repeat itself. Offering the hope that with political, economic, social, educational and environmental transformation we can build a society that works for the common good, within the physical limits of this one fragile planet, is politically essential. The politics of the far right is built on fear and we must not feed that.

“Business as usual isn’t an option. But then that is one thing that certainly is not going to happen. That’s good news, for our planet and for its people.”

Merry Christmas, good people of Planet Earth.

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

“Gross worm creatures,” manatees and climate watchdogs — the Week that Was.

It was a Demophis donaldtrumpi kind of week. What was up one minute was down the next.

A newly discovered amphibian that buries its head in the sand joined a growing list of creatures named after the self-styled leader of the free world. Ridicule ensued.

A climate conference ended with a watered-down resolution that vowed to recommit to resolutions promised in the 2015 Paris Agreement and stay the course. The conference ended in a kind of mutual, uncomfortable muted silence, followed quickly by protests that point out that “good enough” is no longer good enough: Climate change is no longer climate change per se but a full-on climate emergency. Not for future generations. Now.

A new civil-disobedience group, Extinction Rebellion, aka XR, renewed calls to take to the streets. The UK-based group has blocked bridges, bolted themselves to government offices and closed roads, all in the name of blocking climate change. Extinction Rebellion’s include zero net carbon emissions by 2025 and a citizens’ advisory panel — a national Citizens’ Assembly — to monitor environmental policy. The movement is not just limited to the UK: Since the group’s inception in October, it has spread to 35 countries. A “national day of protest” is planned for New York on Jan. 26. The group is planning an international week of rebellion in April, timed to coincide with 2019 Earth Day. During this past weekend’s second wave of civil disobedience, thousands of ordinary, everyday people in towns and villages across the UK staged peaceful direct action protests. A demonstration is planned Friday outside the London headquarters of the BBC.

Google Images

Google Images

During UN climate talks in Poland this month, David Attenborough — representing citizens’ voices — warned that unless action is taken soon, “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is already on the horizon.”

Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old student from Sweden, seized the spotlight at the UN climate conference with a defiant call to action, coupled with accusations that world leaders are “stealing” children’s futures. They’re not the only ones, to borrow a line from John Lennon.

There were glimmers of hope. Florida’s embattled manatee population appears to have stabilized, if not entirely recovered: Population estimates, based on a two-year study published this past week, pegs the state’s manatee population at 7,500 to 10,000 animals, up from the 5,700 to 8,000 found in a 2011-’12 study, the last time manatees were counted in a proper population survey. Even that news comes with a caveat, however: Scientists found that more than 700 manatees died in the past year alone, mostly from Red Tide and collisions with boats.

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

©Pixabay/COO Creative Commons

Nepal’s tiger population has increased as well, despite a worsening crisis in neighbouring India, brought on not so much by poaching and trafficking in body parts as big-picture concerns like climate change, environmental degradation, habitat loss and human overpopulation.

For sheer wackiness, though, few events this past week topped the recently discovered earthworm named after planet Earth’s most notorious destroyer.

EnviroBuild, a green-minded sustainable building materials company headquartered in London, paid $25,000 for the privilege of naming the blind, limbless, newly discovered worm, which buries its head in sand and exhibits behaviour that bears “striking resemblance” to the U.S. Commander-in-Chief’s attitude toward climate change. The money is being put toward a fundraiser for the Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit group dedicated, as the name suggests, to preserving and protecting the world’s remaining rain forests.

EnviroBuild co-found Aidan Bell insisted his company is not overtly political, he said in a prepared statement. “But we do feel strongly that everyone should do everything they can to leave the world in a better way than they found it. . . . As Demorphis donaldtrumpi is an amphibian, it is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and is therefore in danger of becoming extinct as a direct result of its namesake’s climate policies.”

That namesake famously bragged about his “very high levels of intelligence” and how thinking bigly with his giant brain led him to not believe in climate change.

He rejected the findings of his own administration’s climate change report.

EnviroBuild’s Bell told The Guardian that the worm’s name is “perfect.”

Caecillian, you see, is taken from the Latin caecus, meaning “blind,” perfectly mirroring the, erm, strategic vision (DJT) has consistently shown toward climate change.

It’s been that kind of a week.

Google Images

Google Images