The 16-year-old’s lone protest last summer has morphed into a powerful global movement challenging politicians to act
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Jonathan Watts @jonathanwatts Fri 15 Feb 2019 01.00 EST Last modified on Fri 15 Feb 2019 14.56 ES
Greta Thunberg is hopeful the student climate strike on Friday can bring about positive change, as young people in more and more countries join the protest movement she started last summer as a lone campaigner outside the Swedish parliament.
The 16-year-old welcomed the huge mobilisation planned in the UK, which follows demonstrations by tens of thousands of school and university students in Australia, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Japan and more than a dozen other countries.
“I think it’s great that England is joining the school strike in a major way this week. There has been a number of real heroes on school strike, for instance in Scotland and Ireland, for some time now. Such as Holly Gillibrand and the ones in Cork with the epic sign saying ‘the emperor is naked’,” she told the Guardian.
With an even bigger global mobilisation planned for 15 March, she feels the momentum is now building.
“I think enough people have realised just how absurd the situation is. We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it. I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful,” she wrote.
Ebola is back. In 2014, it killed over 11,000 people in West Africa. Now the disease has struck once again in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This time doctors are better equipped, with a vaccine and immunisation campaign but the outbreak highlights the ever-present dangers posed by infectious diseases. One hundred years ago the Spanish flu killed over 50 million people in just one year. And doctors now say the next pandemic will be upon us in a matter of decades. We don’t know where it will start but in a hyper-connected world we know it will spread easily. Ritula Shah asks a panel of expert guests about the scenarios that keep them up at night and whether global health infrastructure is ready for the coming pandemi
Laura Spinney – Author of Pale Rider, a history of the 1918 Spanish flu
Arlene King – Adjunct professor Dalla Lana school of public health at the University of Toronto
Dr Jonathan Quick – Harvard Medical School, Chair of the Global Health Council, and author of The End of Epidemics
David Heymann – Professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Richard Hatchett – Chief Executive, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations
A health worker in Liberia. Credit: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images
IPCC report co-author Dr Joeri Rogelj of Imperial College, London, explains the big difference between a 1.5 and a 2 degree centigrade rise in global temperatures. If we are to keep to 1.5 degrees, global carbon dioxide emissions have to be falling by 2030 and at net zero by 2050.
This week was another bad one for the environment, with a major scientific review predicting a mass extinction of insects within a century if current trends continue. Meanwhile, the news on climate change gets more alarming by the day. But when we talk about causes and solutions, do we often miss the big picture? Is the capitalist system underpinning the globalised economy the main culprit in both crises? If so, can those catastrophes only be avoided if capitalism is tamed, or radically reformed? Is the so-called Green New Deal the answer? Or is capitalism the only system that can produce the innovation we now desperately need?
This week on The Real Story with Ritula Shah we ask: Is capitalism killing our planet, or is it our only hope?
Ann Pettifor – Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), and co-author of the New Economics Foundation’s 2008 report A Green New Deal
Ashley Dawson – CUNY professor, climate justice activist, and author of Extinction: A Radical History
Charles Hernick – Director of Policy and Advocacy at Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum, and a founding member of the Clean Capitalist Coalition.
Erica McAlister – entomologist and senior curator at the Natural History Museum in London.
Erik Fairbairn – founder of electric car charging company, Pod Point.
By Rachel Nuwer 18 April 2017
The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.
Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return?