Fridays For Future Announces Global Climate Strike for March 25, 2022.
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There is an African American spiritual of resistance, “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” that dates back to slavery days. In a verse that references the Judeo-Christian biblical book of Genesis (6:5), the Hebrew God regrets having created humanity because of its “wickedness” and decides to send flood waters that will “wipe from the face of the earth the human race” and all species of animals, birds, and “creatures that move along the ground.” God then relented a bit and instructed Noah, a “righteous man,” to build an ark so his family, and a male and female representatives of each species, could survive to repopulate the planet. In the Christian Bible’s new testament, Peter the Apostle (2 Peter 3:3-7) warns that the next time God destroys human civilization it will be by fire. As those living through the third decade of the 21st century already know, the Earth and humankind now face both fire and flood waters as a result of global warming induced climate change.
Right now wildfires are burning in South Korea. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate as the fires threatened to engulf a nuclear power station and a liquefied natural gas plant.
Uncontrolled wildfires are a global event caused by climate change fueled by the burning of fossil fuels. In 2017 and 2018 wildfires devastated areas in Portugal, Greece, California and British Columbia. In 2020, fires raged for months in Australia, Siberia, and in the Brazilian Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, and California had its worst fire season in recorded history with an area larger than the state of Connecticut enveloped in flames. Six of the twenty largest wildfires in modern California history occurred in 2020. In one day in September, multiple mega-fires were burning more than three million acres of forest and millions of Californians were exposed to smoky and toxic air. The U.S. Pacific Northwest burned again in 2020 and 2021. These fires are so intense they are capable of generating tornado winds. They cause or contribute to rolling electricity blackouts during triple-digit heat waves, dangerous chemicals entering ground water and aqua-filters, and insurance companies canceling homeownership policies.
According to a recently released report by the United Nations Environment Program and the nonprofit organization GRID-Arendal, even if the world’s nations and corporations finally make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the risk of extreme wildfires will continue to increase. Scientists project a 14% increase in extreme wildfires by 2030, 30% by 2050, and 50% by 2100. These fires, once rare, are burning longer, hotter, and more intensely, making firefighting and fire control virtually impossible. By 2100, we will witness extreme wildfires in Arctic tundra as plant material now trapped in permafrost melts and dries. Previously wet regions like tropical rainforests in Indonesia and the Amazon will be at greater risk.
The report was released in conjunction with a U.N. Environment Assembly meeting at the end of February in Nairobi, Kenya. It details the extended impact of the wildfires, which disproportionately affect the world’s poorest nations where the economic cost of rebuilding is often be beyond the means of low-income countries. Inhaling wildfire smoke causes respiratory and cardiovascular health problem and stresses medical facilities. Homes, entire villages, food stuffs, and valuable resources are destroyed. Lakes, rivers, and watersheds are degraded by wildfire pollutants.
The report notes that wildfires are made “worse by climate change through increased drought, high air temperatures, low relative humidity, lightning, and strong winds resulting in hotter, drier, and longer fire seasons. At the same time, climate change is made worse by wildfires, mostly by ravaging sensitive and carbon-rich ecosystems like peatlands and rainforests. This turns landscapes into tinderboxes, making it harder to halt rising temperatures.” It concludes with a call for “stronger international standards for the safety and health of firefighters and for minimising the risks that they face before, during and after operations. This includes raising awareness of the risks of smoke inhalation, minimising the potential for life-threatening entrapments, and providing firefighters with access to adequate hydration, nutrition, rest, and recovery between shifts.”
Teaching Climate History: There is NO Planet B
Welcome to the Anthropocene. Teaching Global History: There is NO Planet B describes how since the start of the Industrial Revolution, human-caused climate change has impacted the globe with the burning of fossil fuels. It is an interdisciplinary book that offers an in-depth examination of the history of the Earth’s climate and how historians and citizens can influence contemporary climate debate and activism. Chapter topics include examining the Earth’s geological past, the impact of climate on human evolution, the impact of climate on earlier civilizations, climate activism, and the need for international cooperation. There are online teaching documents and questions including classroom activities and edited material for use in classrooms.
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