Watch this 15-minute video produced by the Guardian and read this article from the same news source detailing how some indigenous peoples experience changes to their culture due to effects of climate changes.
What challenges and benefits do the people on Greenland experience because of climate changes? And while Aboriginal Australians may have the same core problem, given their vastly different physiography the effects are even more devastating. Add governmental obstructions, for instance when it comes to infrastructure, into the equation, and it is hard to see any benefits from climate changes like the Greenlanders do. So what challenges do the people of Australia’s Northern Territory face because of climate changes?
Kew scientists have officially given 110 new species scientific names in the course of 2019, this Guardian article reveals. Among these 102 plants and eight fungi are species that can change medicine. One has the ability to trick our taste buds. Another has been used for centuries to treat arthritis. It has only this year been given a formal scientific name, and seems also to have abilities to combat cancer.
According to the article, “[t]here are almost 400,000 known species of plant, and about 2,000 new species are named every year”. Yet with their habitats being under threat due to a variety of dangers, the world is at risk of losing them before the species are even discovered, registered, named, or measures being taken to protect them.
Reflecting on all the undiscovered species still out there and all the potential they hold, particularly within medicine, should we not do more to protect them from becoming extinct? Should we not rage against the forest fires raging in several parts of the world, whether or not the destruction is deliberate? Should we not protest dam projects that could potentially wipe out an entire species? Should we not reflect around our own and our governments’ values and actions (or inaction), in the hopes of preserving nature?
Time Person of the Year is annually awarded to the person who “for better or worse […] has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Could there be a more deserving winner for 2019 than Greta Thunberg? Time Magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in his announcement: “She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.”
For two weeks civil servants, activists and some politicians are meeting in Madrid for the 25th summit of the UN’s conference of the parties – COP25. By Friday, 13 December 2019, they will have debated issues concerning the climate – once again. Will it help? Hopefully, but only time will tell. The Guardian has compiled an excellent overview of what to expect before the climate conference started on 2 December. Read it, but also do your own research, for instance on COP25’s own website. For instance, how many did Norway send to Madrid during these two weeks? Did the UK send anyone, or were they too busy campaigning ahead of the general election on 12 December? Has COP25 actually achieved anything now that there are only days left, or are they postponing most things until next year and COP26, since most countries has 2020 as one of their deadlines, whether for attaining the previous targets, set in Copenhagen, or revising the objectives set in the Paris Accord.
We are destroying the planet, in the words of Greta Thunberg “our house is on fire.”
What will happen if we fail to stop this trend?
Today we are going to watch A Plastic Whale, a documentary about how our ways of life are destroying our animal life. Before that, let’s read Brad Plumer’s article “Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace” in the New York Times.
As you read, write down answers to the following questions:
- how are we speeding extinction and altering the natural world?
- how much has animal and plant life decreased for the past 100 years?
- are any species particularly at risk right now?
- which areas/countries are most at risk?
- are any solutions offered?
Now, go to WWF’s Species List of Endangered Species. Pick a specie and find out: why is this specie threatened with extinction and what needs to be done to save this one in particular. And, why does it matter whether we preserve it or not?
Make a blog post combining your findings from The NY Times and about an endangered specie.
Listen to 15 year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden address the UN climate plenary in Poland – you are stealing our future
According to the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Ola Elvestuen, the countries represented are getting close to a climate accord.
Climate change is a topic that the United Nations has taken seriously for decades, having founded the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) already in 1994, initiated during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has existed since 1988. They work “to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies” (https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/session48/pr_181008_P48_spm_en.pdf).
In December, the IPCC will present to the Katowice Climate Change Conference a Special Report on the effects of a global warming of 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial levels. Read the press release from the IPCC in the link above and make a note of what it says about the difference between a 1- and 2-degree increase compared to pre-industrial levels. Draw upon studies from your other subjects as well and be prepared to discuss the topic in class.