This week: We catch you up on the COP25 climate summit (if you haven’t been following). We find out what Generation Z’s biggest fear is, and also about the accuracy of climate simulations. There’s a new star-studded coalition calling for World War Zero. And there’s the small matter of Greta Thunberg being crowned TIME magazine’s Person Of The Year.
1. Generation Z fears climate change more than anything else.
Amnesty International interviewed almost 11,000 young adults aged 18 – 25 (part of Generation Z), across 22 countries, and this is what they found. 41% of respondents cited climate change as the most critical issue facing the world. This isn’t surprising, as 2019 has been pretty much a year of youth climate activism. (Not forgetting, also, that the younger generations are going to be the ones facing the brunt of climate change.) Many agreed that protecting human rights is fundamental (73%), even if it means negatively impacting the economy (60%). The respondents think that their governments should prioritise citizen wellbeing over economic growth (63%). Further, governments should be most responsible for ensuring human rights are upheld (73%).
“If the leaders of the world are willing to listen carefully, they will notice that Generation Z is not asking for small tweaks. Young people are looking for fundamental changes in the way the world works.”
2. Climate simulations are mostly accurate.`
Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather, motivated by years of hearing critics blasting the accuracy of scientific models, tracked down 17 models used between 1970 and 2007. These models simulated what heat-trapping gases will do to global temperatures. Good news: Hausfather found that the majority of them predicted results that were “indistinguishable from what actually occurred.” “By and large our models have gotten it right, plus or minus a little bit,” he said. “If they get it wrong, it’s slightly on the warm side, but I wouldn’t read too much into that.”
In other words, it’s safe to say we can—and should—trust the science and act on it accordingly.
3. Climate change is ravaging the Arctic.
We’ve reported on the Arctic before (earlier this year we talked about unprecedented fires there) and we even made a whole documentary about it. And now, the annual Arctic report card just came out, bearing not-so-great news. Temperatures in the region remained near record highs – in fact, the averages this year are the second-highest since 1900. While that’s not a new high, it’s part of a worrying trend. Overall, the past six years are the warmest on record. Donald K. Perovich, the lead author of the report, said: “It’s really showing that we have a system that’s under duress.”
“It’s not showing much improvement at all,” he added, “things are getting worse.”
4. John Kerry launches “World War Zero”, a coalition to fight the climate crisis.
The former US secretary of state has joined forces with top politicians, military leaders, and even Hollywood celebrities. Among them: Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ashton Kutcher, Leonardo DiCaprio, and even Sting. Why is it named “World War Zero”? Because he believes that this is a question of national security and that rapid mobilisation is necessary. What will they be doing? They’re aiming to mobilise Americans and citizens everywhere to tackle climate change and pollution, starting with a significant social media campaign, and an initial six-figure print and digital advertising buy, along with town halls across the country.
Pursuing bipartisan support and unlikely allies, Kerry underscored that “we’ve got to treat this like a war.”
5. COP25: one week in…
There’s a great deal of disappointment surrounding COP25, as talks have focused on the rules for implementing the 2015 Paris agreement. But, the issue of how fast we need to be cutting our emissions hasn’t been discussed in-depth. “We are at risk of getting so bogged down in the incremental technicalities at these negotiations that we forget to see the forest for the trees,” said Johan Rockström, joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Echoing this sentiment, executive director of Greenpeace International, Jennifer Morgan, said that Brazil and Saudi Arabia are trying to “block the words ‘climate urgency’ in text.” According to Morgan, they’re saying that “we haven’t used these words before in the UN, so we can’t use them now.”
“This gap between what’s happening on the outside and what’s happening in the science, and this ‘UN speak’ that won’t react and drive something is very frustrating.” According to reporters on the ground, the mood among campaigners is low, as there appears to be little progress.
6. Greta Thunberg crowned TIME’s Person Of The Year
Rewind 12-months and we’d all be saying “Greta… who?”. But what a year it’s been for this unlikely teen from Sweden. What started as a lone climate change protest outside the Swedish parliament has morphed into a global movement that has invigorated the world’s youth. Since being catapulted onto the global stage, she’s rarely been out of the headlines. From sailing across the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht to firmly putting world leaders in their place at the UN Climate Summit (“How dare you!”), and rallying millions of people across the globe to participate in a mass global climate strike. She’s single-handedly managed to put the climate emergency at the forefront of minds. What a difference a year makes.
“I want you to panic,” she told the annual convention of CEOs and world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
Image credits: Christina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images via Vox