Saturday November 23, 2019

School Students Set to March for Global Climate Change Strike

"We are showing the rest of the country that we can fight for climate"

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Students are seen attending a "Climate Strike" protest in Canberra, Australia, March 15, 2019. VOA

Oil is everywhere in Oklahoma, says local student Luke Kerr.

But that has not deterred him from planning a protest calling for its phasing out in the state’s capital city on Friday – mirroring similar events due to be staged around the world by students skipping school.

“It is very important that strikes and marches take place in fossil-fuel producing areas of the country, like Oklahoma,” the high school senior said on Thursday.

“We are showing the rest of the country that we can fight for climate.”

With strikes planned in at least 168 U.S. cities and towns, mostly progressive communities, a handful of them like that set up by Kerr stand out for taking place deep in oil country.

The students are taking their cue from Swedish school girl Greta Thunberg whose weekly “school strike for climate” has sparked a global movement.

The school strike movement – which hopes to raise awareness on climate change and force policymakers to take action – has taken the world by storm in recent months, prompting school walkouts mostly in Europe and Australia.

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Students are seen during the global school strike for action on climate change outside New Zealand’s parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. VOA

Kerr and his fellow student protesters will rally just feet away from monumental, mock oil derricks next to the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma ranks fourth among all 50 states for oil production, whose burning is blamed for climate change. The southern state recently left its mark on the country when its former attorney general, Scott Pruitt, angered environmentalists due to his skepticism of mainstream climate science when he headed the Environmental Protection Agency.

About 38 percent of Oklahomans do not believe in global warming, an eight percentage point difference from the national average, according to a 2018 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

In the adjacent state of Colorado, 7-year-old Forest Olson has been the driving force behind another climate rally in an area that is also among the country’s top fossil fuel producers.

The mountainous state ranks fifth nationally for its crude oil production, and tenth for coal, federal data shows.

But Olson, a first grader who lives outside the remote town of Telluride, is rallying high school and elementary school students there who have agreed to follow his lead to demonstrate on the county court house’s steps.

The young boy is witnessing the effects of climate change first hand, said his mother Josselin Lifton-Zoline, including reduced snowpacks on nearby ski slopes.

Snowpacks are expected to continue decreasing in size and affect water resources in the western United States, according to the National Climate Assessment, a U.S. government report.

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School students march up King William Street after attending the global #ClimateStrike rally at South Australia’s Parliament House in Adelaide, Australia, March 15, 2019. VOA

So Olson recently wrote to the town newspaper and spoke to his fellow pupils about taking to the streets.

“I love Earth and I don’t want it to be a disaster,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

ALSO READ: Students Worldwide Skip Class to Protest Governments’ Failure Against Global Warming

In Alaska’s capital city, Anchorage, German exchange student Maxim Unruh, said he had been inspired to bring the movement to this oil-rich state after a friend back home helped with Berlin’s first youth climate strike in December.

The 17-year-old high school senior said he expected some push back for exporting ideas perceived by some as foreign but had prepared a response.

“The climate crisis is a problem in the whole world, and it doesn’t matter from where – I’ll fight for climate justice,” he said. (VOA)

Next Story

Climate Change Would Affect Health Of Indian Children: Lancet

Climate change would hit health of Indian children hard, says study by Lancet

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Children in India will be particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of climate change. Pixabay

Children in India will be particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of climate change such as worsening air quality, higher food prices and rise in infectious diseases, warns a new study published in the journal The Lancet.

Climatic suitability for the Vibrio bacteria that cause cholera is rising three per cent a year in India since the early 1980s, said the report.

“With its huge population and high rates of healthcare inequality, poverty, and malnutrition, few countries are likely to suffer from the health effects of climate change as much as India,” said study co-author Poornima Prabhakaran from the Public Health Foundation of India.

“Diarrhoeal infections, a major cause of child mortality, will spread into new areas, whilst deadly heatwaves, similar to the one in 2015 that killed thousands of people in India, could soon become the norm,” Prabhakaran said.

Through adolescence and into adulthood, a child born today will be breathing more toxic air, driven by the fossil fuels and made worse by rising temperatures.

This is especially damaging to young people as their lungs are still developing, so polluted air takes a great toll, contributing to reduced lung function, worsening asthma, and increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Later in life, a child born today will face increased risk from severe floods, prolonged droughts, and wildfires.

 

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Children in India breathe toxic air and may develop lung diseases. Pixabay

Most countries have experienced an increase in people exposed to wildfires since 2001-2004 with a financial toll per person 48 times larger than flooding.

India alone saw an increase of more than 21 million exposures, and China around 17 million, resulting in direct deaths and respiratory illness as well as loss of homes, said the report.

“Over the past two decades, the Government of India has launched many initiatives and programmes to address a variety of diseases and risk factors. But this report shows that the public health gains achieved over the past 50 years could soon be reversed by the changing climate,” Prabhakaran said.

The “Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change” is a yearly analysis tracking progress across 41 key indicators, demonstrating what action to meet Paris Agreement targets — or business as usual — means for human health.

The project is a collaboration between 120 experts from 35 institutions including the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, University College London, and Tsinghua University.

For the world to meet its UN climate goals and protect the health of the next generation, the energy landscape will have to change drastically, the report warns.

Also Read- Prince Charles Talks Climate Change in India

Nothing short of a 7.4 per cent year-on-year cut in fossil CO2 emissions from 2019 to 2050 will limit global warming to the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degree Celsius, said the report. If the world follows a business-as-usual pathway, with high carbon emissions and climate change continuing at the current rate, a child born today will face a world on average over 4 degree Celsius warmer by their 71st birthday, threatening their health at every stage of their lives. (IANS)