Wednesday June 19, 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

Diversifying Crops will Lighten Growing Climate Impact in India: Study

To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall

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"Expanding the area planted with these four alternative grains can reduce variations in Indian grain production caused by extreme climate, especially in the many places where their yields are comparable to rice. Wikimedia Commons

Diversifying the crops in India can be an effective way to adapt its food-production systems to the growing influence of extreme climate change, said US researchers including Indian-origin.

The team studied the effects of climate change on five major crops: finger millet, maize, pearl millet, sorghum and rice which make up the vast majority of grain production during the June-to-September monsoon season in India — with rice contributing three-quarters of the grain supply for the season.

Taken together, the five grains are essential for meeting India’s nutritional needs. In a paper published in Environmental Research Letters, Kyle Davis, environmental data scientist from the Data Science Institute at Columbia University found that the yields from grains such as millet, sorghum and maize are more resilient to extreme weather.

Their yields vary significantly less due to year-to-year changes in climate and generally experience smaller declines during droughts. But yields from rice, India’s main crop, experience larger declines during extreme weather conditions.

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Their yields vary significantly less due to year-to-year changes in climate and generally experience smaller declines during droughts. Wikimedia Commons

“By relying more and more on a single crop — rice — India’s food supply is potentially vulnerable to the effects of varying climate,” said Davis, the lead author on the paper.

“Expanding the area planted with these four alternative grains can reduce variations in Indian grain production caused by extreme climate, especially in the many places where their yields are comparable to rice.

“Doing so will mean that the food supply for the country’s massive and growing population is less in jeopardy during times of drought or extreme weather,” he noted.

The co-authors on the paper are Ashwini Chhatre, Associate Professor at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad; Narasimha D. Rao, Assistant Professor at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Deepti Singh, Assistant Professor at Washington State University in Vancouver; and Ruth DeFries, University Professor of Ecology and Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

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To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall. Wikimedia Commons

Temperatures and rainfall amounts in India vary from year-to-year and influence the amount of crops that farmers can produce.

With episodes of extreme climate such as droughts and storms becoming more frequent, it’s essential to find ways to protect India’s crop production from these shocks, according to Davis.

ALSO READ: Conflict and Climate Change Largely Responsible for Rising Global Hunger, Finds Study

To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall. Data on the yields of each crop came from state agricultural ministries across India and covered 46 years (1966-2011) and 593 of India’s 707 districts.

“This study adds to the evidence that increasing the production of alternative grains in India can offer benefits for improving nutrition, for saving water, and for reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture,” said Davis. (IANS)