Youth Climate Movement Puts Ethics at the Center of the Global Debate

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Youth Climate Movement Puts Ethics at the Center of the Global Debate

Even if you’ve never heard of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist who crossed the Atlantic on a sailboat to attend a Sept. 23 United Nations summit on the climate, you may have heard about the student-led Global Climate Strike she helped inspire, planned for Friday, Sept. 20.

People from more than 150 countries are expected to head to the streets to demand climate action. According to the organizers, the strike aims “to declare a climate emergency and show our politicians what action in line with climate science and justice means.”

The strike was galvanized by a global youth movement, whose Friday school walkouts over the last year were themselves inspired by Thunberg’s own three-week strike in August 2018 to demand climate action by the Swedish parliament.

People of all ages will be joining this year’s protests at the United Nations, and adults – with their environmental organizations, climate negotiations and election campaigns – are gradually getting on board. The Union of Concerned Scientists even published an “Adult’s Guide” to the climate strike to help parents of participants get up to speed.

Fast fashion lies: Will they really change their ways in a climate crisis?

Fast fashion lies: Will they really change their ways in a climate crisis?

By Anika Kozlowski, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design, Ethics and Sustainnability, School of Fashion, Ryerson University. First published on The Conversation.

Recently Zara introduced a sustainability pledge. But how can Zara ever be sustainable? As the largest fast-fashion retailer in the world, they produce around 450 million garments a year and release 500 new designs a week, about 20,000 a year. Zara’s fast-fashion model has been so successful it has inspired an entire industry to shift — churning out an unprecedented number of fashion garments year-round.

We live in an era of hyper-consumption in the middle of a climate crisis.

Clothing production doubled from 2000 to 2014. The average consumer bought 60 per cent more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment half as long. Apparel consumption is projected to to rise by 63 per cent in the next 10 years. And less than one per cent of all clothing produced globally is recycled.

With production numbers like these, can any fast-fashion retailer claim sustainability?

The Role of Fashion Shoes and Trump's Trade War Soybean Fallout in Burning the Amazon

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One of the larges corporate responses to the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest has come from VF Corp. whose brands include Timberland, Vans and The North Face. The company issued a statement saying that it will discontinue using Brazilian leather until it has “the confidence and assurance that the materials used in our products do not contribute to environmental harm in the country.”

The Amazon, which spans eight countries and covers 40% of South America, is often referred to as "the planet's lungs" . Estimates show that nearly 20% of oxygen produced by the Earth's land comes from the Amazon rainforest. In addition, the Amazon puts an enormous amount of water into the atmosphere, regulating global temperatures as a result.

Environmentalists blame the policies of Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro for the 77% increase in fires in 2019, compared to one year ago. Even worse, half of the fires have been detected in the last month. A highly-controversial supporter of US president Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has encouraged farmers to burn the land in order to meet the growing demand for beef worldwide.

Overall, the demand for beef is increasing as the demand for leather shoes is decreasing, according to the LA Times, June 2018. Once a status symbol, leather shoes are often a symbol of anti-environmentalism, especially to young customers. Hides and other byproducts account for about 44% of the slaughtered animal’s weight but less than 10% of its value, according to government data.

As both corporate management and humans become more committed to sustainability issues and customers take ownership of being complicit with large corporations in environmental destruction, Vogue Business asks the provocative question: Is footware funding the burning of the Amazon?

Amazon rainforest from space, with red dots representing a fire or "thermal anomaly" NASA WORLDVIEW

Amazon rainforest from space, with red dots representing a fire or "thermal anomaly" NASA WORLDVIEW

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In recent years, companies such as LVMH, Kering and Nike have committed to sourcing only deforestation-free leather. (LVMH said it would provide €10 million in aid to fight the Amazon fires.) Traceabilty is a problem, writes Vogue Business, quoting Nathalie Walker at National Wildlife Federation.

“Many still think that because they buy ‘Italian leather’, that means it is not from Brazil, but that is untrue,” says Walker, director of tropical forests and agriculture at NWF. In fact, the Italian leather industry sources heavily from Brazilian suppliers like Frigorífico Redentor, a company that Amazon Watch describes as a “notorious illegal deforester in Brazil” and pegs as partly responsible for the recent surge to clear land. Grupo Bihl, Frigorífico Redentor’s parent company, did not respond to emails requesting comment.

Gucci parent Kering says that it now traces 80 percent of its skins to the slaughterhouse, with the goal of 100 percent traceable by 2025.

Not mentioned in the Vogue Business article is an answer to the key question AOC just asked and answered? Is the Amazon burning so that Brazil can meet the demand for soybeans, now that China has stopped buying soybeans from American farmers due to the trade war between the two nations.

There’s a surprising amount of writing on this topic in the past week. They include:

Fires in Amazon rainforest are being fuelled by US-China trade war, experts say SCMP

How Trump’s trade wars are fueling Amazon fires The Guardian

Trump’s Trade War Could Be Fueling Amazon Fires Bloomberg

Is the CNN Democratic Presidential Contenders Climate Town Hall at Hudson Yards or Not?

HUDSON YARDS, SITE OF CNN’S CLIMATE CRISIS TOWN HALL. THE EVENT WILL FEATURE 10 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT. AP PHOTO/MARK LENNIHAN

HUDSON YARDS, SITE OF CNN’S CLIMATE CRISIS TOWN HALL. THE EVENT WILL FEATURE 10 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT. AP PHOTO/MARK LENNIHAN

Of all the places in New York that CNN could have chosen to host its Sept. 4 Democratic presidential candidates forum on climate change, activists, political leaders and fashionistas alike are stunned that the network apparently chose 30 Hudson Yards, substantially owned by billionaire and recent $12 million fundraiser for President Donald Trump Stephen Ross.

Pardon us while we pick up our dropped jaws from the floor. News of Ross’ moneybags haul for Trump’s re-election caused boycotts of Ross’ Equinox gym and the decision of several prominent designers to pull out of Hudson Yards venues for the upcoming New York Fashion Week.

Queens Councilmember Costa Constantinides wrote a letter to CNN earlier this month asking the network to move the venue to an outer borough, where Superstorm Sandy revealed the devastating impact of the climate crisis. The letter was signed by more than a dozen Queens and Brooklyn lawmakers, reports The Queens Eagle.

“If 30 Hudson Yards is the venue, it’s a property developed by Stephen Ross: an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, who believes climate change is a hoax, and a leading figure in Big Real Estate, which fought tooth and nail to stop the landmark passage of the Climate Mobilization Act in April,” Constantinides said in a statement to the Eagle. 

“The candidates should see the communities already living with the effects of climate change on a daily basis, which there are plenty of in Queens and Brooklyn,” he continued. “If the town hall is indeed at Hudson Yards, where a three-bedroom condo goes for $9.5 million, it is a slap in the face to every Rockaway resident still waiting to get his or her home back nearly seven years after Sandy.”

Remarkably, as of two days ago, numerous officials at both CNN and Hudson Yards were denying that they knew anything about a town hall on September 4. A Friday Google search gives no location for the event, with CNN publishing the agenda. for the seven-hour series of one-on-one interviews with the candidates.

Employing due diligence, the Eagle did locate individuals at both CNN and Hudson Yards who — off the record — confirmed the Democratic event was good to go. Still, a staff member at the Shed performance space expressed surprise that the climate policy town hall would actually take place in the complex.

“It would be weird because of the Stephen Ross thing,” the person said.

Staff members were informed that the Shed would not be involved in “anything political” after the Ross boycott, the person added.

Can Environmental Populism Save the Planet? Two Movements Intersect

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Can Environmental Populism Save the Planet? Two Movements Intersect

By Mark Beeson, Professor of International Politics, University of Western Australia. First published on The Conversation.

Populism and environmentalism are words seldom seen in the same sentence. One is associated predominantly with nationalists and charismatic leaders of “real people”, the other with broadly-based collective action to address the world’s single most pressing problem.

Differences don’t get much starker, it would seem. But we are increasingly seeing the two strands combine in countries around the world.

Exhibit A in support of this thesis is the remarkable growth and impact of Extinction Rebellion, often known as XR.

When I finished writing a book on the possibility of environmental populism little more than six months ago, I’d never even heard of XR. Now it is a global phenomenon, beginning to be taken seriously by policymakers in some of the world’s more consequential democracies. Britain’s decision earlier this year to declare a climate emergency is attributed in part to 11 days of Extinction Rebellion protest that paralysed parts of London.

Teen Vogue Introduces 9 Teen Climate Activists Fighting For The Planet's Future

No one takes the reality of climate change more seriously than members of Generation Z, as climate change and the Green New Deal, advanced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez , take center stage in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary.

Days after her election to the House, then Congresswoman-elect Ocasio-Cortez joined 150 youth activists associated the Sunrise movement in a sit-in at then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's Capitol Hill office, where the group called for congressional action on climate change.

Teen Vogue introduces us to 9 Teen Climate Activists Fighting for the Future of the Planet. Heading the list is Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, 16. A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Thunberg will be speaking at the UN Climate Summit in New York in September. She is among the 15 Forces for Change featured in the September 2019 issue of British Vogue.

Other climate activists profiled by Teen Vogue include: Katie Eder, 19 executive director of Future Coalition; Jamie Margolin, 17 cofounder and co-executive director of Zero Hour; Nadia Nazar, 17 Cofounder, co-executive, and art director of Zero Hour; Isra Hirsi, 16 cofounder and co-executive director of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike; Alexandria Villasenor, 14 founder of Earth Uprising; Haven Coleman, 13 cofounder and co-executive director the U.S. Youth Climate Strike; Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 19 youth director of Earth Guardians and author of the book We Rise; and Jayden Foytlin, 15 member of Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 class of 2018.

CNN will host a climate change debate in New York on September 4 for candidates qualifying for the September Democratic debates. Presently, only eight candidates meet that criteria: former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey Senator Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; California Senator Kamala Harris; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; former Representative Beto O’Rourke; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

MSNBC will host a two-day event in Washington, DC on September 19 and 20. All presidential candidates are invited from both parties.