(AU) 'There's A Passion': Encountering Extinction Rebellion

Sydney Morning Herald - Julie Perrin

After a week of disruptive action and widespread demonstrations activists have warned their work has just begun.

The week that the Extinction Rebellion protests begin to block the streets of Melbourne I am parked in a camping area at the southern end of Gariwerd - the Grampians National Park in western Victoria. The bush around the walking trails is studded with wildflowers. But when camping in wild places, your neighbours are an unknown.
One evening my friends and I find ourselves watching a couple of vehicles roll into our remote campsite at dusk. Three people spill out of two four-wheel-drives and begin setting up. One appears solo, down the steps of his car-top camper, wearing his dressing gown. Bemused, we figure that - unlike last night's group - he won’t be staying up late and yahooing into the wee hours. A bit later, the woman comes by our campfire and introduces herself.
Angela Crunden and her partner Tony Peck are from Gippsland. When this composed, silver-haired woman tells us that for the last three days they’ve been protesting with Extinction Rebellion (or XR for short) in Melbourne, our eyebrows lift. These are not the young ‘anarchist’ ratbags Peter Dutton would have us repelling.
“There were 30 of us from Gippsland,” says Crunden, adding with satisfaction, “nine from Gippsland were arrested, including a previous mayor from Bass shire.”
The next day we peel off to other parts of the park, but I arrange to speak with the couple when they’ve returned home.
I discover both have had careers in nursing. They have brought up their children while living off the grid in East Gippsland for 25 years. Retired now, they have moved to Bairnsdale but are still immersed in sustainability practice, from which there is no retirement. The couple have been part of a local environmental coalition for years.
Angela Crunden and her partner Tony Peck came from their home in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland, to take part in Extinction Rebellion protests in Melbourne. Credit: Tony Wells
Crunden tells me about earlier lonely moments in which she’s been a sometimes unwelcome presence, setting up a one-person climate change information stall outside her supermarket. When the couple speak about Extinction Rebellion’s group training, artists’ offerings, and practices of non-violence, it is easy to see the appeal of solidarity after such solitary vigils.
I ask them why they were pleased about the arrests. Crunden says: “There’s a passion attached to the sacrifice.”
Peck adds: “When people tell us to stop wasting time protesting, we ask them what alternatives they’d suggest. Invariably they say ‘Talk to local politicians, write to your local member.’ We have been doing that politely for 20 years, and we will continue to do it. But it has not brought about the needed change.”
Prior to the phone call I had researched Extinction Rebellion in Melbourne and internationally. The weight of opinion is against their actions in stopping the traffic, but something else catches my eye.
I see snatches of video and photos of people wearing whiteface and flowing red costumes. At first the red people’s appearance is reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale. But there are no white bonnets. Draped in red, the performers wear headdresses all of a piece with flowing red garments. Performing stylised gestures with great slowness, they offer utter attentiveness towards what is happening around them. Their movements are made in unison, they walk in slow motion and silence.
These visually striking ‘Red Brigades’ remind me of the chorus in classical Greek drama, only in this instance there’s no speaking.
Red Brigade protesters in Russell Street, Melbourne.
When Peck describes the Red Brigade in Melbourne, his voice catches. “There is a yearning in their movement. They stood nearby and leant towards the people being arrested. We all felt embraced by their presence.”
Following our call I watch a Red Brigade group from Britain in a YouTube clip called “The Rising Tide”. I am mesmerised. A group of 20 or more descend a sea cliff in Cornwall and process along the beach below - first in rows of pairs and later in a V formation. The video and soundtrack are just over two minutes long - no words are spoken, but there are subtitles and hand-painted banners. The Red Brigade members walk calmly into the sea and stand immersed to their waists, unflinching. The ritual action is complete. Fully clothed in the water they stand together: they are a flock, a massed appearance to remind us of what is disappearing.
There is something about the considered gestures and silent action that speaks to me, a leaning-in to give ear to what is happening. They are bearing witness. I want protests that look like this. Would beauty and sorrow persuade people?
A friend says to me: “You can’t make change elegantly, it doesn’t come without discomfort. Someone has to be rude.”
Remembering the outcry about traffic congestion during the Spring Extinction Rebellion, I ask Crunden and Peck their thoughts on the inconvenience and disruption caused to commuters; it does not sit easily with them.
Police intervene to protect Shaun Islip, lying on the ground, from protesters outside the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre during the climate protests on October 29. Credit: AAP
They are horrified when I tell them about Shaun Islip, a choir leader I’ve met who was thrown to the ground by environmental protesters at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC). Islip had nothing to do with the mining conference - he was going into the venue on October 29 to do a sound check for the WorkSafe conference the following day. The protesters refused to hear this.  Islip was wearing a suit - that, it seems, was his mistake.The Gippsland couple say the XR training they have received is to avoid blaming and shaming any one individual. And Crunden reminds me that in a public context it is hard to control who is representing you. At the rebellion in early October, she felt very concerned when a man in sunglasses and a balaclava tried to attach himself to their group. She spoke to him: “We don’t wear masks like this, it is not XR practice.”
The protests at IMARC were organised by an alliance of groups including Frontline Action on Coal and Socialist Alternative. Extinction Rebellion maintain that they chose not join the blockade part of the protest, as this type of confrontation is not what they seek.
Miriam Robinson, a spokesperson for XR Melbourne, says: “One of the hallmarks of Extinction Rebellion actions is a creative element, often involving music and costumes. We organised actions during IMARC such as a bicycle ride, a 'disgust-ation dinner' and a 'Dance with Death'. The Red Brigade did not attend the IMARC blockade. They decided that this event was not for them.”
She adds: “Some of our people came in the morning, they were free to come as individuals, but when they saw the police, the horses and the shouting, they put their flags away and left."
Several people from XR Gippsland had travelled up to join the actions, but they turned around and went home again.
The Gippsland contingent at the Extinction Rebellion protests in Melbourne.
The federal government’s business-as-usual attitude admits little need to respond to extinctions. In his defence of the economy and the "quiet Australians", our prime minister is beginning to shout. But there are thousands of Australians on both sides of the political divide who protest this denial. They come from the country, the suburbs and the city; they have jobs and farms and businesses and children and grandchildren. They are unlikely to accept being dismissed as anarchists or members of cults. And they are less and less likely to remain quiet.


(AU) We Mustn’t Bring Politics Into The Disastrous Situation That Was Created By ... Wait For It ... POLITICS

The Guardian - First Dog On The Moon

Should we only talk about climate change outside the fire season?
 That’ll soon be one (single) Thursday in July (at long as it’s raining)


(AU) If You Can’t Talk About Climate When The Country Is Burning, When Can You?

The Guardian*

Performance is at the heart of politics. That’s why Labor needs to seize this moment of crisis to push for climate action
‘The PM is expected to be there, touring around, being seen listening to briefings by the local emergency services chief, with a bit of looking at maps and so forth, and showing emotion.’ Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
In weeks like this one it becomes quite clear just how much of federal politics is performative. Politicians do things for no discernible reason other than to be seen to be doing something, or to put on a show that will elevate their profile or position.
Once the New South Wales and Queensland fires reached a critical level, politicians were always going to do all they could to be seen to be involved.
The problem is that during such a crisis there is very little for a prime minister to do. He actually has no role – the fire services are state based, and anything that will require federal coordination, whether it be Australian federal police or Australian Defence Force, does not really need the prime minister at all.
In reality, he just gets in the way.
But getting in the way is expected of prime ministers at such times.
When an emergency such as this occurs, the PM is expected to be there, touring around, being seen listening to briefings by the local emergency services chief, with a bit of looking at maps and so forth, and showing emotion.
Scott Morrison this week was not actually doing anything of note – and to be honest, neither was the ALP leader, Anthony Albanese, who also toured parts of NSW and received a briefing on the situation.
About the best the PM could have done this week was made sure the NSW fires services had the phone number of the ADF to contact and then to let them get on with their work.
But had he done that, the criticism of course would have been about where was he, why hadn’t he visited the scene, talked with emergency services and so on.
Back in 2011, Julia Gillard was accused by Tony Abbott and others for being too “wooden” when she visited the Queensland floods. It was all the usual sexist crud that was directed towards Gillard. She was regarded as not emotional enough compared to Anna Bligh, who was premier of Queensland at the time and had an actual role, whereas Gillard – like Morrison this week – really had nothing to do.
Gillard’s failure was not about action, it was about the performance. (And the reality that she could do no right – even when she later cried in parliament. Andrew Bolt wrote a column in which he was at pains to say that while he thought her tears were genuine, “it will seem calculated to some” because she needed to show that she was not wooden.)
Morrison, the man from marketing, sure as heck was not going to make the mistake of appearing too wooden – he is very much a politician in tune with the performative nature of the job. We saw this during the election campaign when he would “do things” that made the travelling press pack happy because it gave them something to report about.
He also knows how to make use of a crisis.
Does anyone remember the crisis of needles in strawberries? In reality the biggest concern was the risk of copycat acts due to the attention Morrison gave the contamination scare, but nevertheless he used the occasion to perform the role of the leader who was tough on crime.
He also used the occasion to rush through laws that were neither asked for nor needed, but which show that while we might dismiss the performative art of politics as a sideshow, politicians on their game will use it to push their agenda and get their way.
Our media system is driven by what Italian media academic Gianpietro Mazzoleni calls “spectacularisation” – the demand for the spectacle in our political news – and good politicians use it to their advantage.
And so Morrison brings in a lump of coal to parliament. Why? The performance – it annoys the left and it is a good spectacle.
The ALP this week has tried their best to not provide any spectacle. There was no fightback of any real note against the idiocy of Barnaby Joyce or Michael McCormack – a lot of “now is not the time”.
And that might seem the mature and sensible response, and yet with the spectacle and the performative aspect of politics comes the opportunity to sell your policy and push your agenda.
Australia is burning, and it is burning because of climate change. Scientists and fire chiefs know this – and they have been ignored by the government. That’s reason enough for the ALP to raise the issue with fervour.
This week the Swedish central bank sold off Australian government bonds because of our high emissions dependency. That won’t be the last time climate change has a major impact in international finance.
We all know it is coming, but the government chooses to ignore it and suggests we put off discussion for another time.
We should be talking about it now – no debate on climate change is going to hamper the ability of firefighters to do their job.
No firefighter is standing off to the side waiting for Albanese and Morrison to finish their debate so they can go off and put out a fire.
It might seem mature to wait for a more appropriate occasion to talk about climate change and bushfires, but politics is about capturing the moment. The conservative side of politics knows this, and uses it again and again on issues of national security and crime.
Conservatives want to wait, because they want to wait until a time when the public will be less invested, less angry and less attentive. Next month it will be Christmas holidays and the attention of voters will be gone.
Progressives too often cower and take the mature road and let opportunities go begging.
The performance and spectacle of politics might be annoying and distracting but it can’t be ignored. The ALP did not need to come out this week going over the top like Joyce and McCormack, but they need to use these occasions to capture the imagination of the public and push for action.
Because if you can’t bring yourself to talk about climate change while the country is burning, then you can’t blame voters for thinking it must not be that big of a deal, or just as bad, that the ALP doesn’t really care.

*Greg Jericho writes on economics for Guardian Australia



Venice Is Underwater — And A Preview Of What Climate Change Will Bring To Coastal Cities

Washington Post - Alex Horton | Andrew Freedman

The Washington Post's Rome bureau chief Chico Harlan spoke about what Venice was like after floodwaters submerged the city as of Nov. 13. (Alexa Ard, Chico Harlan/The Washington Post)

More tidewater roared into Venice on Friday, layering more catastrophic floods into the lagoon city and panicking residents over the viability of living on the lip of the Adriatic Sea.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the “dramatic situation” was brought on by climate change, in an appeal for additional donations to repair the devastation caused by the worst flooding in half a century.
While the city may recover on the surface, as it has before, climate scientists have said Venice is a harbinger of the problems facing all coastal cities, as melting ice sheets and warming oceans raise sea levels to unprecedented heights.
“Venice is the pride of all of Italy,” Brugnaro said in a statement, the Associated Press reported, as officials said the city was 70 percent submerged. “Venice is everyone’s heritage, unique in the world.”
St. Mark’s Square, the city’s famous piazza, was closed as seagulls swarmed the knee-high water. The flood rose to over six feet in some areas. Italy declared a state of emergency and released 20 million euros to repair the extensive damage.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro closed St. Mark's Square on Nov. 15, deeming flood waters too high to be safe as high tide peaked at five feet. (Reuters)

The total damage could run into the hundreds of millions, Brugnaro said.
Because of rising seas, extreme flooding that used to occur in Venice once every 100 years is expected to recur every six years by 2050, according to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This could become far more common by 2100, recurring every five months. This only takes sea-level rise into account, which will become a progressively greater concern as time goes on.
The bigger issue: Venice is sinking. That means these flood recurrence periods, calculated for the IPCC report, are on the conservative side.
People walk in the flooded street near the Rialto bridge in Venice. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)
Friday’s floods are due to another storm in a similar position southwest of Italy, with winds blowing from the southeast to northwest across the Adriatic, piling water toward Venice. Coming atop astronomical high tides and long-term subsidence plus sea-level rise, it’s becoming easier to flood the city to severely damaging levels.
All around the busiest parts of the city, water slicked the floors of cafes and Murano glass shops and seeped into hotel lobbies, leaving a smell of sewage in its wake.
Venice, over the centuries, has diverted rivers to protect the lagoon and extended the barrier islands. But now, the sea level is rising several millimeters a year.
Offshore, at the inlets between those barrier islands, a massive project known as MOSE could potentially boost Venice’s protection — with floodgates that could be raised from the sea during high tide, sealing off the lagoon.
The project, launched in 2003, was once forecast to finish in 2011. Then 2014. Now, projections call for completion in 2022.
Venice has thrived since the fifth century. But even locals with canal water in their blood are taken aback at the flooding and predictions to come.
“It’s a city full of history,” said Vladimiro Cavagnis, a fourth-generation Venetian gondolier who chauffeurs tourists on the city’s trademark boats. “A history that, little by little, with water, will end up like Atlantis. People are destroyed, anguished, sad. They see a city that is disappearing.”


(AU) NSW Public Servants At Climate Conference Told Not To Discuss Link With Bushfires

The Guardian

Exclusive: email from government directs attendees at conference on climate adaptation to stay quiet on bushfire-climate link
Firefighters work to save a house on Bullocky Way, Possum Brush, south of Taree on Tuesday. The NSW government has directed public servants not to discuss links between climate change and bushfires. Photograph: Darren Pateman/AAP
As bushfire conditions were declared “catastrophic” on Tuesday, New South Wales bureaucrats attending a conference on adaption to climate change were directed not discuss the link between climate change and bushfires.
Bureaucrats from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment were sent an email soon after the AdaptNSW 2019 Forum began, causing consternation among some attendees who saw it as tantamount to gagging them.
The email said: “For those attending AdaptNSW today, public affairs has issued advice not to discuss the link between climate change and bushfires.
“Refer questions in session and plenaries to bushfire reps.”
Former NSW fire commissioner Greg Mullins was one of the attendees.
But the participants also included scientists and experts who are developing policy and advising the Berejiklian government on adaption measures the state could take in relation to land use, planning and dealing with the risk of bushfires.
“Gagging climate change experts from speaking in the middle of a bushfire disaster is a new low from this government,” Greens MP David Shoebridge said when told of the email by Guardian Australia.
“Right now we need to be hearing more from experts and, to be quite frank, maybe a little less from politicians.
“We know there is a link between the climate emergency and these catastrophic fires and the public debate needs the assistance of impartial government experts. This is a vacuum that will otherwise be filled with political shouting and increasing public anger.”
According to publicity for the event, “AdaptNSW Forum is a one-day event which brings together climate change researchers and practitioners from government, industry and universities to showcase NSW’s leading research, tools and resources to help minimise the impacts of climate change in local communities.”
Other attendees included local government, Landcare experts as well as architects and planners.
The theme for the AdaptNSW 2019 Forum was “Actions in adaptation: building resilience in NSW”.
The entire rationale for the conference was to bring together experts who could contribute to discussion on adaption to climate change. It was held, coincidentally, as Sydney was braced for a bushfire threat that for the first time had been categorised as “catastrophic”.
But some in the government, notably the Nationals, expressed outrage at people talking about whether climate change is exacerbating the extreme conditions and bushfire risk.
On Monday the NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro, said: “It is an absolute disgrace to be talking about climate change while we have lost lives and assets.
“For any bloody greenie or lefty out there who wants to talk about climate change ... when communities in the next 48 hours might lose more lives, if this is the time people want to talk about climate change, they are a bloody disgrace.’’
The deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, took aim at the Greens and “all those other inner-city raving lunatics” who, he claimed, were politicising the tragedy.
The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, had a more measured position, saying she did not shy away from discussing climate change but that it was not her primary concern at the moment.
The NSW environment minister, Matt Kean told the Guardian he had attended the AdaptNSW conference and delivered a speech about climate change before announcing a series of grants for projects to support adaption projects.
“Climate change is a real issue that requires a decisive response and all the scientific advice I have been given says that our changing climate will seeing more extreme weather events,” Kean said.
“I want to see our best minds debating and discussing what we can do to mitigate climate change and addressing the impacts we are experiencing, rather than silencing debate or scoring political points.”
Kean said his speech to the forum had canvassed the fact that “climate change doesn’t respect the division between governments or divisions between departments” and the need for decisive action by governments build resilience to a changing climate.


Telling Stories To Battle Climate Change, With A Little Humor Thrown In

New York Times

The women who make the podcast “Mothers of Invention” stand apart in the field of climate communication.
Mary Robinson, left, and Maeve Higgins recording the “Mothers of Invention” podcast.
In 1991, when a cyclone and flooding hit Bangladesh, 90 percent of the victims were women. In New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina displaced over 83 percent of poor, single mothers. In Senegal, a 35 percent decline in rainfall means that women, often responsible for fetching water for their families, have to walk farther to collect enough.
Around the world, women — predominantly poor black, brown and indigenous women — are disproportionately affected by climate change. They live intimately with climate chaos that can seem distant or abstract in space and time from the lives of many in the global North.
For some, statistics like the ones above are enough. For most people, the catalyst for caring, let alone taking action, is stories — the lived experience of others who can translate their own narrative into something more essential about what it is to live with climate change.
The women who make the podcast “Mothers of Invention” already know all of this, which makes them stand apart in the field of climate communication.
Mary Robinson, the first woman to be president of Ireland and a former United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and climate justice advocate, co-hosts the show with Maeve Higgins, an Irish comic and writer who hosts her own immigration podcast and is a contributing opinion writer to The New York Times. Thimali Kodikara, a British producer, artist and activist, is the series producer.
Ms. Robinson lives in Dublin, but for almost all of the episodes she comes to New York City to record the show with Ms. Higgins and Ms. Kodikara.
The show focuses on stories of women of color and indigenous women from around the world in the climate crisis who are implementing solutions in their own communities. These are the women, the show argues, who need to be involved in higher-level discussions about policy and about who is really affected by climate change.
They have featured women like Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a member of the nomadic Peul Mbororo community in Chad, who seeks justice for women and girls, and Wahleah Johns, a member of the Navajo (Dine) tribe, helping to bring solar energy and green jobs to her community through the organization Native Renewables, one of her many efforts to achieve climate and environmental justice. These women and others appear on the show as guest hosts to tell their own stories, making manifest the show’s tagline: “Climate change is a man-made problem with a feminist solution.”
In defiance of outdated stereotypes depicting feminists as humorless and self-serious, Ms. Robinson and Ms. Higgins, working off Ms. Kodikara’s scripts, deliver levity and brightness to a discussion that so often emphasizes fear, hoping to leave people feeling informed and empowered, rather than scared and depressed. Though not a comedy show, their approach makes room for everyone, from the novice to the expert. All this in spite of that until two years ago, Ms. Robinson “didn’t know what a podcast was,” she said.

Mary Robinson
Ms. Robinson has said that one of her regrets during her tenure at the United Nations from 1997 to 2002 is that she did not make any speeches about climate change. Even though she found climate change worrying, to her, the issue had so often been framed as a story about polar bears and melting glaciers, and not always one about people. But during her travels around the world advocating human rights, she began to hear more stories from people living on the front lines of climate change, and they kept saying things were getting worse.
While visiting South Africa not long before the 2009 Copenhagen summit on climate change, she heard an affecting story. A Ugandan farmer and grandmother, Constance Okollet, said that the changes — farming made more difficult by flooding and drought — in her village were unprecedented. “‘They are outside of our experience,’ Constance told me. It was an unusual sentence, and I will never forget that sentence,” Ms. Robinson said.
That story and others made international justice and human rights concerns inextricable from climate change for Ms. Robinson. Now, those most vulnerable — the poor, the marginalized and the disempowered — are at the forefront of her agenda and her efforts to bring their stories to a global audience.
But justice, and gender equality in particular, has always been a motivating force for Ms. Robinson — she gave a speech in the late 1960s in deeply Catholic Ireland calling for repeals of the constitutional bans of divorce and contraception, and the legalization of homosexuality. “I did always have a sense of justice,” she said, “and I wanted to study law because I wanted it to be a kind of way to effect social justice and to take cases to correct discrimination.”
She wanted to bring that sense of justice, and her understanding of the intersection of climate change and human rights, to a broader audience, which is what got her to the podcast.
And despite her status as a global moral leader and knowledge of climate policy, she maintains a profound sense of humility. “I have learned as much for the podcast as I have contributed to it,” she said. “I am so impressed by the women that we have been interviewing and listening to, with that humor and banter but a seriousness about the urgency of the problem on the ground.”
And while feminism is the solution to the problem, she stresses the inclusivity of her approach: “We don’t exclude men; we just keep them in their place,” she said with a laugh.
Ms. Higgins, left, and Ms. Robinson, right, are hosts of the podcast. Thimali Kodikara, center, is the producer.
Maeve Higgins
Ms. Higgins is a comedian, but “Mothers of Invention” is not a comedy show, she said. However, she sees a vital role for humor in any discussion of climate change, and politics in general.
“Where I’m at right now with humor is that it’s actually maybe dishonest or unprofessional to not use humor in writing or talking about very serious things, because it’s very human to make a joke at dark times,” she said.
Ultimately, she has found, focusing only on the unrelenting bad news about climate change is a disservice to the people who live with it every day and to the people who are taking action. “It’s the same information,” she said, “but how you present it and how you leave somebody feeling is important as well.”
“We need to make space for these women because they are affected, and they are the ones coming up with solutions,” Ms. Higgins said.
She also emphasizes the need to help listeners feel that they can take action too. Like many others, Ms. Higgins was a customer of JPMorgan Chase, which has reportedly committed nearly $200 billion to fossil fuel exploration over the last three years. For a bonus episode, she recorded her call to Chase asking them for comment on their investment in fossil fuels. “It felt like a prank call to call them and get hung up on, but that’s the action that I took,” she said.
Ms. Higgins joined “Mothers of Invention” after an extensive audition process.
Before working with Ms. Robinson on the podcast, she was not a climate expert, though through her interest in immigration, she was beginning to see the effects of climate change on displacement and migration.
She also was not about to turn down an opportunity to work with Ms. Robinson, who Ms. Higgins said was the first president she really remembered from growing up in Ireland. “She is impressive and clear-minded and clever, and she stands up for others,” she said. “All of the things I thought about her as a child proved true, and that was pretty special.”
Ms. Robinson agreed: “I’m very happy to find myself in this wicked company at this stage in my life.”

Thimali Kodikara
Ms. Kodikara has been thinking about climate justice for her entire life, she just did not know it.
An artist by training and a producer by profession, Ms. Kodikara, who was born in England to Sri Lankan parents, had been involved with organizations championing immigration reform and helping asylum seekers, but, she said, “I hadn’t really thought about the connections between migration, immigration and climate because the common narratives hadn’t made climate appear relevant to black and brown people at all.”
That changed after a conversation with her friend, Thanu Yakupitiyage, associate director of United States communications for 350.org, who had previously worked in immigration reform. As Ms. Kodikara started learning more about the issue, she said, “I realized with all that has separated us from each other, climate justice is the great unifier.”
Producing the show became an opportunity to change the behaviors and attitudes of the climate-curious-but-maybe-complacent (and mainly white) in the global North, by putting faces and voices to the science.
She and the co-hosts “understand the value of supporting these women and listening to the knowledge that they’ve hoarded for generations,” Ms. Kodikara said. “I don’t see anyone else doing that.” To her, it’s inherently logical: “What kind of solution are you really going to end up with if you don’t listen to all of the intelligent and experienced and informed voices?” she said.
For her, the show’s emphasis on levity complements that mission. “It is a phenomenal source of power for marginalized communities to be able to laugh and take control back into their hands. You can’t make a joke in a vacuum, you have to be in a room, in a community with other people to feel that way.”
The humor also captures the interest of those who might otherwise turn away.
“I know how huge and beautiful and expansive things can be when we know how to exist around each other,” she said. “We can do anything, but we have to understand more of where we came from in order to be able to do that, and also how to just exist and be around each other.
“I know how to do that, so let me show people how.”



Health Impacts Of Climate Change On Children Don't Need Exaggerating

New Scientist

Children are increasingly protesting about their future. Stefan Boness/Panos Pictures
A child born today faces far-reaching health impacts from living through a world 4°C warmer than humans have ever experienced, according to a major assessment released today. But the research doesn’t support claims by some climate activists that children may not grow up at all.
The 2019 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change, put together by doctors and researchers, warns that children are particularly vulnerable to climate change, because a warming world exposes them to more infectious diseases, malnutrition and stunted growth, and dirty air that hinders the development of their lungs.
A major concern is Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that leads to diarrhoeal disease, the world’s number two killer of children under the age of 5. People are most susceptible in certain coastal areas, and the percentage of these at-risk regions has already grown almost a third in the Baltic and north-east US since the 1980s as warming changes sea surface temperatures.
Elizabeth Robinson at the University of Reading, UK, one of the report’s authors, says children’s diets are also at risk, with under nutrition and malnutrition set to rise as climate change causes food production to fall. “We are a little concerned with a triple negative,” she says.
Heat is already causing yields of crops to fall in some places – such as wheat in Australia – and many of the yield declines are expected in countries that are food insecure, and the productivity of farms will be hit as labourers struggle with heat. All of this means that children face a poorer diet.
In some places, higher temperatures will trap more air pollution in cities, says another report author, Nicholas Watts, a medical doctor at University College London. This will have a particular impact on children. “It has lifelong effects on your lungs as they are trying to develop,” he says.
Watts says the current trajectory of global carbon emissions means that we are on track for more warming than the worst case scenario – of a 2.8-4.6°C rise by between 2080 and 2100 – so 4°C is a conservative estimate of what a person born today might experience. That assumes a global average life expectancy of 71.
The report follows recent claims that rising temperatures mean children may not grow up at all. “People probably sometimes ask you: what are you going to be when you grow up? But we’ve reached a point in human history where the question also has to be asked: what are you going to do if you grow up?” Rupert Read, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, told children in July.
Air pollution is a major contributor to health issues in children [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]
His remarks were condemned last month by climate scientists for straying beyond what science says. Read tells New Scientist his comments stem not just the risk to children from individual issues such as infectious diseases and malnutrition but “potential societal collapse”, and the need to err on the side of precaution.
The health impacts of climate change don’t need exaggerating: the Lancet Countdown report lays out dire impacts for well-being if emissions go unchecked. On the positive side, the report makes clear that acting on climate change could actually improve health compared with conditions today.
Watts points out that a child born in the UK today will, by the age of 6 years old, live in a country without coal power stations. By 21, they will be unable to buy a petrol car – a date that politicians have hinted may come much earlier. When 31, they will live in a society that should have hit net-zero emissions, with cycling and walking much more prevalent.
“By the time you reach net zero, you have cleaner air, healthier diets, more liveable cities, you have stronger, more resilient health systems,” says Watts. Which one of those two pathways we pick is entirely a political question, he adds. “It’s now entirely a question of implementation, of getting on with it.”


Lethal Heating is a citizens' initiative