One of this year’s most trending topics has been climate change. Understandably: climate change is speeding up rather than slowing down. The problem is so serious that even the terms used to describe it needs to be updated. Several scientists and organizations, state that it’s more appropriate to talk about ‘climate emergency’, ‘climate crisis’ or ‘climate breakdown’ rather than climate change. Also ‘global heating’ is more accurate than ‘global warming’. Scientists say that we have 12 years left to reverse the situation before it goes out of control. We wrote about the Paris Agreement, an international treaty aimed at keeping rising temperatures in check, but, unfortunately, it has been largely ineffective. Few countries are doing what they promised to do and this past November the United States requested to withdraw from the Agreement. If governments are moving slowly though, many private enterprises and movements are not. Let’s recap and update some of these inspiring stories.
The Ocean Cleanup Project
Last year we wrote about the Ocean Cleanup Project, founded by the young inventor Boyan Slat, that launched a device for capturing the plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean’s Great Garbage Patch. The testing phase ended this November. After some initial difficulties, the device proved capable of capturing and collecting floating plastic debris. The project is successfully moving ahead. In parallel, the Ocean Cleanup just launched a new device called the River Interceptor. This invention is a solar powered floating machine that stops plastic from flowing downriver into the seas. This is Boyan Slat’s next ambitious aim: to tackle the 1,000 most polluting rivers (responsible for about 80% of ocean plastic pollution) before the end of 2025. Boyan Slat will not be alone: recently two Italian friends (one based in London and one in New York) developed a similar system called Blue Barriers. It seems like they will be competing with Slat in cleaning the world’s dirtiest rivers.
Strike for climate
This year no climate action has been more in the news than the Fridays for Future strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg. We spoke about them in February, and since then the movement has increased in size. In September, Greta spoke at the UN Climate Action Summit where she scolded world leaders for their inaction. “How dare you!” she said. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words!” Her courage energized many people to demand change from their own governments. This year also saw the rise of a similar movement, Extinction Rebellion, founded in the UK in 2018. Extinction Rebellion promotes peaceful acts of civil disobedience to demand political solutions against climate breakdown. Many governments are now taking steps because of the pressure of these popular movements. Italy, for example, is the first country to introduce climate change studies in schools. Also, Greta Thunberg was one of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize candidates, an acknowledgment that fighting for the environment contributes to world peace. Finally, the Nobel went to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his effort to achieve peace between his country and Eritrea.
Curiously, though, Prime Minister Ahmed is also famous for his Green Legacy Initiative, a reforestation campaign. As part of the Initiative, this July Ethiopians planted more than 350 million tree seedlings in a single day, a world record. Many scientists believe that reforestation is one of the most effective ways to fight climate breakdown. Planting trees is also one of the Earth Day initiatives that we wrote about two years ago. Next year Earth Day will celebrate its 50th anniversary. By then it aims to have completed its Canopy Project: the planting of 7.8 billion trees – one tree for every person on Earth. News like these prove that 2019 saw a significant growth in climate activism. Hopefully, this is a sign that we are at the beginning of a worldwide shift, where people are taking charge of their environment and their future.  “COP 21 – Trying to save planet earth” https://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/english-lingue/planet-english/cop-21-trying-to-save-planet-earth  “Cleaning up the Ocean” https://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/english-lingue/planet-english/cleaning-up-the-ocean-2  “School strike for climate” https://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/english-lingue/planet-english/school-strike-for-climate-2  “Earth Day 2017” https://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/english-lingue/planet-english/earth-day-2017
- slowed down.
- was a minor trending topic.
- caused some fifty climate disasters.
- not all countries are respecting it.
- people and private enterprises are not doing their part.
- climate change cannot be stopped.
- join the Paris Agreement.
- leave the Paris Agreement.
- rewrite to Paris Agreement.
- on the surface of the Ocean.
- at the bottom of the Ocean.
- below the surface of the Ocean.
- last year.
- as a substitute to his Ocean Cleanup Project.
- to stop more plastic from flowing into the Oceans.
- complimenting the good work done so far.
- criticizing the participants.
- thanking the participants for their impact on her life
- was created by Greta Thunberg.
- has similar aims to those of Fridays for Future.
- is contributing to world peace.
- considered climate activism as an activity that favours peace.
- was won by Greta Thunberg.
- was won by Prime Minister Ahmed for his Green Legacy Initiative.
- are promoted by Prime Minister Ahmed.
- want to plant one tree for every person on Earth.
- have similar objectives.
- a good year for climate activism.
- a bad year for climate activism.
- the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
___ (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Pixabay, Pixabay)