Big Belgian students’ pro-climate strike

Brussels, Belgium young demonstrators against climate change

This NOS photo shows Brussels, Belgium young demonstrators against climate change today. In front, wearing yellow vests, the two initiators Anuna de Wever and Kyra Gantois.

Translated from Thomas Spekschoor, Dutch NOS TV correspondent in Brussels today:

Thousands of truants set Brussels traffic flat for climate

It must be the beginning of a Thursday tradition. About 3,000 schoolchildren went on strike today to demonstrate in Brussels for a better climate policy.

Not 3,000, but 4,000, according to (right-wing) Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws.

They believe that Belgium and other countries are doing too little to reduce CO2 emissions. As long as the students do not get any commitments from politicians, they say, they will repeat the actions in the coming weeks.

The initiators are Anuna de Wever (17) and Kyra Gantois (19). They followed the example of the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who skips school every Friday for a better climate.

No future

“Politicians want us to join the system”, says Anuna. “We don’t object to that, but then that system has to be right, it just does not work at the moment. If we continue to pollute the environment, then I have no future at all, so why should I go to school?”

The campaign has been around on social media in the past few days, and that reached many students. About 3000 were there this morning according to the Brussels police at the Central Station. That was many more than the initiators expected.

Most of the demonstrators were between the ages of 16 and 18, but 11-year-old Fenna was also in the middle, together with her father. “I think we need to improve the climate now. But if we let us pass our chance now, then it will be much harder to do something in the future, then we will have to do everything quickly, while now we are still able to do it without stress.”


The young people did agree about this message this morning, but there was no event program. After an hour on the square near the station, the mass suddenly began to start to march, surprising the organizers.

“We will go along with them surely?” Anuna says to her co-initiator. The direction is clear: they want to go to the Wetstraat, the Belgian government center, to talk to politicians. Anuna: “It has not been agreed with the police, but I support it, I can not keep tem all under control, we started it and now it’s up to the young people, is not it?”

But the march never reaches parliament. Policemen, perhaps with the protests by yellow vests still fresh in their memory, close off the roads quickly and are ready with water cannons and rubber truncheons to prevent the students fro passing. The young people turn around and follow other roads, which here and there leads to considerable traffic jams.

This 10 January 2019 video says about itself:

Around 3,000 students marched in Brussels on Thursday to demonstrate against climate change. The demonstration was a follow-up to the “Claim the Climate” event in December, which brought together some 70,000 people in Brussels for the opening of the COP24 Climate Summit in Katowice.

“I’m proud of you”, German MEP Arne Lietz told protesters via a bullhorn. “We need more of you around Europe.”

These are good words by Mr Lietz. However, a problem is that Mr Lietz is a member of the social democratic SPD party. That party is a junior partner in the right-wing German government. Which often sabotages pro-climate policies; eg, because they don’t want to hurt the profits of the German car corporations.

One of the demonstration’s leaders told the protesters to organise more actions in schools, and said that the protesters would be back in bigger numbers.

The Thomas Spekschoor article continues:

Next week again?

This will be difficult for many students. The father of Fenna has given permission this time. “But I do not know if it will work out that way next week.” More young people say so. Now they were allowed to demonstrate by their parents and there was understanding in many schools, but that will not be the case every Thursday.

Initiators Anuna and Kyra will be back next week. “I do think that there may be fewer people, but we will continue until we will be listened to and we hope that it will be taken over in other countries.” It went from Sweden to Belgium, so why not continue to spread?”

Demonstrators in Brussels today, photo by Photo News

This 12 December 2018 video is called School strike for climate – save the world by changing the rules | Greta Thunberg | TEDxStockholm.


Climate change and resistance in 2018

This 25 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

2018: A Year of Climate Devastation and Resistance

TRNN revisits the apocalyptic extreme weather, dire reports, and resistance to climate inaction we saw in 2018. Help us make real climate news in 2019.

Rudolph the red list reindeer

This 2017 video is called Reindeer – A Day in the Life – Stories for Kids.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Rudolf the red list reindeer

PETER FROST says, whatever President Trump might say, climate change has reduced Arctic reindeer herds by more than half

JUST as I was getting ready to celebrate my atheist Christmas I heard some awful news.

Climate change over the last 20 years has more than halved the world population of wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus).

Exactly the same species is known as caribou in North America, but they are doing just as badly, says a new scientific report.

Numbers of reindeer have fallen from almost five million to around 2.1 million and the shrinking in numbers continues at a frightening pace.

President Donald Trump will no doubt cry “fake news”, but he’ll be hopping mad when he learns the body that did the research and issued the new report is based in Washington, just a few minutes sleigh ride from the White House.

The new report on the impact of climate change in the Arctic was released at the American Geophysical Research Union (AGU) meeting this month.

The AGU is a not-for-profit organisation bringing together over 62,000 geophysicists from 144 countries.

AGU activities are focused on the organisation and dissemination of scientific information in the international field of geophysics — that is, atmospheric and ocean science, solid-earth science, hydrologic sciences and space science.

This latest AGU report reveals that weather patterns and vegetation changes are making the Arctic tundra a much less hospitable place for reindeer.

Some herds have shrunk by more than 90 per cent — “such drastic declines that recovery isn’t in sight,” says the Arctic Report Card that forms a key part of the new report. The report has discovered multiple reasons why a warmer Arctic is worse for reindeer.

Professor Howard Epstein, an environmental scientist from the University of Virginia, who was one of the many scientists involved in the research behind the Arctic Report Card, told the world media that warming in the region showed no signs of abating.

“We see increased drought in some areas due to climate warming and the warming itself leads to a change of vegetation. The lichen that the caribou like to eat grows at the ground level. Warming means other, taller vegetation is growing and the lichen are being out-competed.”

Another major factor is the number of insects. “Warmer climates just mean more bugs in the Arctic,” said Prof Epstein. “It’s said that a nice day for people is a lousy day for caribou.

“If it’s warm and not very windy, the insects are oppressive and the reindeer spend so much energy either getting the bugs off of them or finding places where they can hide from insects.”

Increased rainfall in the Arctic, often falling on snowy ground, leads to hard, frozen icy layers covering the grazing tundra. Reindeer simply cannot push their noses through the ice sheet to reach their food.

Real scientists — not the oil industry apologists that Trump wheels out on occasions — say the growing evidence suggests warming in the Arctic will continue.

“In all the years of publishing the report card, we see the persistence of the warming continuing to mount,” said Emily Osborne, Arctic research programme manager for the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), “and this is contributing to extreme weather events elsewhere in the world.”

Some other key points from the report included:

Plastic pollution. Tiny microplastic contamination is on the rise in the Arctic just as it is in all oceans, posing a threat to seabirds and marine life that can ingest debris.

Air temperature. For the past five years (2014-18) temperatures have exceeded all previous records since 1900.

Sea ice thinning. In 2018, Arctic sea ice remained younger, thinner, and covered less area than in the past.

Toxic blooms. Warming Arctic Ocean conditions are coinciding with an expansion of harmful algal blooms in the ocean, which threaten food sources.

AGU scientists have also discovered that east Antarctica’s glaciers have begun to wake up in response to warming — clear evidence of unprecedented climate-driven change at both of our planet’s poles.

Meanwhile Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lives on as part of our Christmas celebrations. How long will it be before reindeer are only a ancient memory on Christmas cards?

Rudolph was invented as part of a sales campaign by US department store chain Montgomery Ward. A US adman created him in 1939. Santa’s red coat was also invented by another US adman to promote Coca-Cola in December 1931.

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen are Santa’s other reindeer and they first appeared in
the 1823 poem A Visit from St Nicholas. Rudolf didn’t feature in this poem.

The story of a bearded old man flying around the world delivering gifts is strange, but not as strange as the real origins of flying reindeer which are pictured on northern standing stones, some thousands of years old.

Ancient shamans knew the hallucinogenic properties of fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) to give wonderful dreams and visions and sometimes the impression that you could fly.

Sadly the mushroom was very poisonous, so in order to get the wonderful effects they fed the bright red and white spotted fungus to their reindeer and then drank their urine to enjoy the hallucinogenic properties.

In primitive tribes the time of the winter solstice was the time you would know if your food and fuel stocks would last to the spring. If the stock were sufficient the tribe could celebrate and so many festivals came into being.

So however you mark the winter solstice, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, Alban Arthan, Dong Zhi, Korochun, St Julia’s Day, Yuletide or any of the dozens of other ways people celebrate this time of the year all around the globe, enjoy it.

Join with me, pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple, be it mulled wine, reindeer pee or anything else and have a seasonal drink. Merry Christmas!

Pro-climate demonstrations in Poland

This 10 December 2018 video says about itself:

Thousands Protest at U.N. Climate Summit in Coal-Heavy Poland, Facing Riot Police & Intimidation

This week Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have blocked language “welcoming” October’s landmark IPCC climate report that warned of the catastrophic effects of a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which global crises could unfold at a rapid pace. The four countries rejected using the word “welcome”, insisting that members instead “note” the findings of the widely cited U.N. report. We begin our coverage with voices of some of the thousands of climate activists from around the world who marched in Katowice on Saturday, calling for world leaders to do more to keep rising greenhouse gas emissions in check. We also speak with a member of the European Parliament who confronted undercover Polish officials who were monitoring the protest.

This 10 December 2018 video says about itself:

“Shame On You!” Protesters Interrupt Trump Admin Promoting Coal & Fossil Fuels at U.N. Climate Talks

Just minutes before we began our Monday broadcast, Democracy Now! spoke to protesters at the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, as they interrupted a Trump administration event promoting coal and other fossil fuels. We speak with Diné climate activist Leona Morgan.

Delegates from more than 200 countries are meeting in Katowice, Poland, in the annual United Nations ritual to discuss international climate change policy. This year’s conference is the third since the Paris Agreement. Dubbed “Paris 2.0,” it is devoted to working out the implementation details of the 2015 accord. Despite ample evidence that the Paris agreement itself is woefully inadequate, ambitions for Katowice remain low, with no expectation of a new round of more stringent pledges by nations this year. With US President Donald Trump in the process of withdrawing the world’s second largest polluter from Paris (the US remains a participant until at least 2020, the first opportunity for formal withdrawal), the conference is more likely to test the very survival of the agreement. Skepticism or outright opposition to Paris has grown from governments of key countries including Russia, Brazil and Australia: here.

An Inconvenient Truth 2, climate change film review

This 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

An Inconvenient Truth 2 – An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power | official trailer (2017) Al Gore

Climate Changes, Truth Does Not

A decade after AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH brought climate change into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes – in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.

Directed by Jon Shenk & Bonni Cohen

As this trailer says, a main criticism by climate denialists of the earlier film by former United States Vice President Al Gore was its prediction that the New York City site of the World Trade Center, ruined by the 9/11 attacks, might be flooded. That was supposedly exaggeration and demagogy. However, a few years later, during Hurricane Sandy, it did in fact happen.

This video from the USA says about itself:

“An Inconvenient Sequel”: Al Gore on New Film, Trump, Climate Change & His Opposition to DAPL

24 January 2017

More than a decade after the release of the groundbreaking film “An Inconvenient Truth”, former Vice President Al Gore is back with a new film about the climate crisis, “An Inconvenient Sequel”. On Sunday, Gore was part of a panel moderated by Amy Goodman at the Sundance Film Festival.

On 25 November 2017 I went to see that film.

Gore remarks in it is that it looks like that before the damage to the environment can be overcome, the damage to democracy must be overcome. That reminded me of what Gore has said in 2006 about the causes of the war on Iraq.

Al Gore said the Bush administration was in denial on the inconvenient truth of global warming; including silencing scientists on this subject.

He drew a parallel with their attitude on the start of the Iraq war, with their denial of the inconvenient truth that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; the official cause for war.

Gore said at least three factors really influenced the decision to invade Iraq: Dick Cheney‘s wish to control Middle East oil for big corporations; the idea of Karl Rove [see also here], Bush’s adviser, that it would electorally be good for Bush to be a ‘war president’; and ideologists really believing in their ideologies, like Iraqi masses supposedly welcoming US soldiers with flowers, as their invasion was a ‘cakewalk.’

One may criticize Gore in this for not doing enough to stop the damage to democracy caused by George W Bush’s stolen victory in the 2000 presidential election, aided and abetted by George W’s little brother and then governor of Florida, Jeb.

Sustainable energy is an important theme in An Inconvenient Sequel. Sometimes Gore discovers it at unexpected places. Eg, in Georgetown, Texas. There, a Republican mayor, Dale Ross, has managed to make the municipal energy company 100% sustainable energy.

Very recently, Ross turned up at a meeting on climate change.

This 3 December 2018 video says about itself:

Republican Mayor Joins Bernie Sanders On Climate Change

Dale Ross joined Bernie Sanders’ town hall on climate change to discuss how we can come together and achieve success on the matter. Cenk Uygur, John Iadarola, and Francesca Fiorentini, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

NEW ORLEANS — National flood maps are underestimating the risk for tens of millions of people in the United States. That’s the conclusion of researchers presenting a new study December 11 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that about 13 million people live in a “1-in-100-year” floodplain zone, a region that has a 1 percent chance of flooding in any given year. But the agency’s risk assessment largely focuses on larger streams and rivers, and lacks assessments of risk along smaller tributaries. FEMA’s calculations “miss a lot of the risk,” says Oliver Wing, a geographer at the University of Bristol in England: here.

Donald Trump to drop climate change from list of national security threats. New National Security Strategy set to exclude global warming, which had been added by Obama administration: here.