United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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.



“Thirty years of climate hysterics proved wrong time and time again” — What price willful blindness?

Media tycoons can be just as dimwitted, disingenuous — or downright dishonest — as the next person.

I have posted already about the frightfully stupid column by a media tycoon weeks back in a national newspaper in Canada, and its audience-grabbing headers, Thirty years of climate hysterics being proven wrong over and over again, and, There is no justification for the self-punitive nonsense of the Paris climate accord, and — yes! there’s more! — Most of our political and academic leaders are so far over-invested in defending against something that is not happening, they continue to call for the sacrifice of others.

You see, because if media tycoons are known for anything, it’s their selflessness and finely tuned sense of sacrifice, honed over many decades, centuries even, of looking out for their fellow human being.

Economic suicide — i.e. shutting down oil fields and getting off fossil fuels once and for all — is only tempting to those who have forgotten what pre-industrial life was like, it ended.

©Pixabay/Creative Commons

©Pixabay/Creative Commons

Why stop at the pre-industrial age, though? If we’re dealing with the semantics of history, why not rewind all the way back to the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction period, the so-called K-T event, some 65.5 million years ago. For many years, palaeontologists believed this event was caused by climate change that disrupted the dinosaurs’ food chain.

Scientific discoveries in the mid-1980s, based on geological findings of the rare element of iridium in rock samples taken from that time, suggest the most likely culprit was a meteor or asteroid that kicked up so much dust it effectively triggered a global blackout, ushering a new ice age. The theories are many; the proof in short supply. What evidence there is shows that the planet did slowly became cooler during that time, the late Mesozoic Era, during which the dinosaurs died out, after surviving some 160 million years in a hot, humid, tropical climate. Dinosaurs, like today’s reptiles, you see, were cold-blooded; they obtained body heat from the sun, and so would not have been able to survive a considerably colder climate.

©Pixabay/Creative Commons

©Pixabay/Creative Commons

Mammals are warm-blooded, and while it’s a stretch to say all mammals are ill-suited to adapt to a suddenly hotter climate, “economic suicide” is clearly a matter of degree. As environmental activist and marine wildlife conservationist Paul Watson once told me — though you don’t need an activist to tell you this — there’s not much point in worrying about what you do for a living if the entire planet is unliveable.

In the time between my last post and this post, this has happened:

More than 50 forest fires have broken out in Sweden, a nation more known for its cold and snow than fires which — and this is true — are now breaking out inside the Arctic Circle.

@World Health Organization/Twitter

@World Health Organization/Twitter

But wait, there’s more. Following catastrophic floods across Japan, temperatures there have now reached north of 40°C, and thousands have been hospitalized for heat-related reasons.

Toronto, a city known more for its obsession with ice-hockey than anything else, has recorded temperatures that exceeded 30°C on 18 days so far this year, well ahead of the 10 such days all last last summer.

Oh, and scorching weather across the UK has melted panels on the roof of the Science Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, as well blistering agricultural fields throughout a verdant land more known for its craggy highlands and rolling sea mists than once-in-a-generation heatwaves.

As an article in the Sunday Observer this past weekend by science editor Robin McKie noted, climate scientists point to a number of factors, not just climate change and global warming but also the jet stream, which is uncommonly weak right now. A weak jet stream causes weather patterns like high-pressure ridges in the northern hemisphere to stall, which in turn leads to substantial increases in sea-surface temperature across the North Atlantic, which in turn cause more drought on dry land. One factor feeds on the other. The more heat there is, the hotter it gets. Everything is connected, as David Attenborough keeps reminding us in his nature programs.

©Reanalyzer/Climate Change Institute/University of Maine

©Reanalyzer/Climate Change Institute/University of Maine

Again, you don’t need a science degree to understand this, but constantly rising global carbon emissions — man-made or not, regardless of whether you think they’re the whole cause or only part of the cause — DO. NOT. HELP.

As events of the past week and the summer so far  suggest, heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense, and, as one marine scientist (with the Scottish Marine Institute, Oban) told the Observer: “That is something . . . we should be very worried about.”

You know, on second thought, any economic fallout from the Paris Agreement may be a small price to pay.



©Pixabay/Creative Commons

©Pixabay/Creative Commons