Isabel Allende says Trump is a fool for denying climate change

Barcelona, November 7 (RHC)-- Chilean writer Isabel Allende she is bemused by how U.S. President Donald Trump can deny climate change, adding that it was a foolish stance to take.

“How is it possible that the President of the United States denies climate change, with what that means in terms of policies, of image, of the message he gives to the world?  Who can deny it?  Only a fool can deny it,” she said as she was in Barcelona to pick up the International Barcino Historical Novel Prize.

She told reporters that at a time of fundamental changes were coming and that she hoped to be able to witness it.  Allende, who has lived in California for years, said that today there are mass migrations, uncertainty and discomfort in many parts of the world and that they would generate very important changes.

“It is the younger generation, those who will inherit the world that is more restless and do not want this system.  They are people worried about climate change.  All this will produce very positive changes.  We will enter a time of fundamental changes and I hope to be alive to see them,” she said.

The writer, who has more than 70 million readers and 24 books under her belt, said that the “old men who are running the world should be ashamed” that a girl like Greta Thunberg “has to shake their conscience.”

When asked about Chile, she said the uprising had been an extraordinary surprise for both ruling politicians and opposition leaders.  “According to statistics, (the country) seems to be an oasis in Latin America, but the figures do not show the distribution of income, resources and inequalities, which are some of the highest in the world.”

Allende said that one percent of the population held on to 25 percent of the country’s wealth with 40 percent of the population unable to afford basic services.

“Everything is privatized, with a neoliberal system imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship, in agreement with the ‘Chicago boys’ -- which could be implanted fiercely because there was no labor representation,” the award-winning author continued.

For 17 years, capital income had total freedom and lacked the counterweight of unions, political parties, the author added.  Citizen representation and this model, which was applied in 1980, has remained in place as the ruling status quo for 30 years.  “And with the pretext that the price of subway fares would rise, a revolt has erupted, a massive protest, in which everyone is on the street,” Allende mused.

The famed author also spoke of her latest novel, A Long Petal of the Sea, which taps into the nostalgia of exile and tells the story of thousands of refugees who traveled to Chile following the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

“They were very well received and contributed so much to culture, science and music that today it would be impossible to quantify it, but they and their descendants changed history,” Allende said.

Refugees have been an issue more prevalent than ever today, although “masses of displaced people have always existed,” said Isabel Allende.   “Since Trump has been president, the United States is bearing witness to a true human rights crisis on its border with Mexico, with subhuman situations and with detention centers that are prisons.” 

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World

'We are the change': Greta Thunberg tells Canadians to demand action

Climate change is an international emergency and political leaders across the globe -- including Canada -- aren’t doing enough to confront the crisis, Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg told a Montreal crowd on Friday.

“If the people in power won’t take their responsibility, then we will,” Thunberg told a crowd of hundreds of thousands, including many children who skipped school to attend the rally.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau marched alongside protesters in Montreal and met privately with Thunberg, who he thanked for “pushing us all to do more.” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May also attended climate demonstrations.

 Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was the only leader of a major federal party to skip the event.

Thunberg encouraged climate strikers to put pressure on their leaders to take decisive action on climate change before it’s too late.

Last fall, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called for governments to act rapidly to limit global warming to 1.5C. Scientists say greenhouse gas emissions need to significantly drop by 2030 and reach near net zero globally by 2050.

“If the people in power won’t take their responsibility, then we will,” she said. “We are the change, and change is coming.”

Thunberg has been mocked by some of the world's most powerful people, including U.S. President Donald Trump, who dismiss her calls to climate action as the musings of silly school girl.

Following Thunberg's remarks, CTV News' Lisa LaFlamme asked the teen activist how she feels about being attacked by grown men in powerful positions.

"I don't understand why grown-ups would choose to mock children and teenagers for just communicating and acting on the science when they could do something good instead," Thunberg said.

"I guess they must feel like their views or interests are threatened by us. That is, we should take as a compliment that we are having so much impact and that the people want to silence us, we've become too loud for people to handle so they try to silence us."

Thunberg said she told Trudeau the same thing she tells all world leaders.

"Just listen to the science," she said.

Asked why he didn’t attend the event, Scheer instead touted his party’s plan to invest in public transit projects, a promise he described as a “real, concrete” way to lower emissions by making sure “people will be stuck in traffic less.”

Scheer also used the opportunity to attack Trudeau.

“He’ll be marching with so many people today who realize that his plan is not as advertised, it will lead to higher costs of living, while not achieving our targets,” he said.

In conjunction with the march, Trudeau promised that a Liberal government would plant 2 billion trees over the next 10 years – a plan the Liberals say would help take carbon out of the air and “hold ecosystems together.”

On Twitter, the Green Party dismissed the Liberal’s promise “cute.” May, who is running on a platform to ban gas-powered cars by 2030 and eventually shut down the oil industry, said her party’s platform is the only one capable of meeting the IPCC’s bold climate targets.

May, who is running on a platform to ban gas-powered cars by 2030 and eventually shut down the oil industry, lauded the countless children across the world who skipped school to demand action from leaders.

“We are at the point where years, decades of procrastination have brought us to a place where we’re running out of time,” May said.

“This is a very significant moment and assuming we succeed, the future generations can look back at this and say, ‘This is when our kids saved us.’”

Speaking in B.C., Singh reiterated his party’s promise to fight the Trans Mountain pipeline extension, a plan he says would protect the province’s coastline from the possibility of an oil spill.

“One spill would devastate the entire environment,” he said.


Climate marches began early in St. John's, N.L. as crowds marched to Memorial University's clock tower. The march is set to make its way to the provincial legislature on Confederation Hill.

More than 80 cities across the country are capping off a week of international protests and a call for action for governments to do more to slow climate change.

In Halifax, hundreds of people, including large groups of students from Dartmouth High School, gathered in Victoria Park for the protest. The Halifax march's route is expected to wind through the centre of the city to the headquarters of Nova Scotia Power, where some of those participating planned to participate in a so-called "die-in."

In New Brunswick, students staged a mass walkout at Samuel de Champlain School in Saint John.

Sept. 20 was the kick-off for a week of climate activities, with two global climate strikes planned on Sept. 20 and Sept. 27. The UN emergency climate summit was held on Sept. 23, in between the two climate strike dates. The global strikes were inspired by #FridaysForFuture, a movement following Thunberg’s call for students to strike.

Demonstrators in Toronto arrived at the Ontario legislature ahead of the 11 a.m. protest. Mayor John Tory said on social media the city's iconic Toronto sign will not be lit today in solidarity with all those taking part in #ClimateStrikeCanada.

More than 600 students at the University of Calgary were expected to walk out of morning classes and parade down to city hall for a rally scheduled for noon. With just weeks until the federal election, the group is calling for a Green New Deal and demanding climate policies from all candidates.

In Vancouver, the city said it's expecting about 10,000 people to join the mass climate strike. Protestors are meeting at 1 p.m. local time at Vancouver City Hall before marching over the Cambie Street Bridge to the Vancouver Public Library at Georgia and Hamilton streets, CTV News Vancouver reported.

School districts in Vancouver and Surrey allowed students to attend the strike as long as they had parental permission.

Emily Carr University of Art and Design cancelled all classes Friday afternoon to allow students to participate.

The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University said students who planned on taking part should discuss their plans with instructors.

Three Canadian retailers will also take part and shutter operations for the climate strike.

The 22 MEC stores in Canada will be closed on Friday until 5 p.m. local time to allow staff the opportunity to participate in protests.

Another Vancouver-based company, Lush Cosmetics , made a similar decision. The toiletry maker said it will shut down its 50 shops, manufacturing facilities and online shopping in Canada on Friday in an effort to encourage its 2,216 staff and customers to participate in local actions.

An Indigo Books & Music Inc. spokesperson says the retailer's home office teams in Toronto and Montreal will have the opportunity to participate.

At the UN’s global summit last Monday, Thunberg said the current plans to tackle the climate crisis do not take it seriously enough, saying that the strictest emission cuts being talked about would only give the world a 50 per cent chance of limiting future warming to another 0.4 C, which is a global goal.

“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction,” Thunberg warned world leaders. “And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

A climate report put out this week says that oceans are becoming more acidic and warmer, glaciers are shrinking, new illnesses are breaking out due to warming waters, and by 2060 it is estimated that coastal floods off British Columbia and the Maritimes that used to occur once a century will be annual events.

  • Published in World

Climate change is about to divide Norway’s largest Arctic island into two

Radar soundings made by Polish researchers in the area of Hornbreen-Hambergbreen glaciers show that there are no obstacles that would hinder the flow of water though the channel formed between the Greenland and Barents Seas once the glaciers have retreated. Consequently, Spitsbergen will be divided into two islands.

Svalbard, the fastest-heating place on earth, is a live laboratory for everyone studying the dramatic effects of the climate crisis. While world leaders travels to New York on September 23 for the UN Climate Action Summit to find ways to limit the global temperature to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, temperatures on Svalbard have already risen by 4 °C.

At Spitsbergen, the largest island on the archipelago, both permafrost and glacier are melting in a speed nobody could predict a few years ago.

«The conclusion coming from the surveys is that the glacier bed is below sea level and no obstacles have been identified that might prevent connection of the Barents Sea and Greenland Sea when glaciers have retreated,» says Mariusz Grabiec to the Barents Observer.

Grabiec is researcher with the University of Silesia and the Polish Centre for Polar Studies.

Since 1957, Poland has operated a research station at Hornsund, the southernmost fjord on Spitsbergen.

Mariuzs Grabiec tells that the fjord of Hornsund is expanding about 3 square kilometers every year as the glaciers melts away.

  • Published in World

THE PHOTO: Where there was a lake…

There have always been droughts, but right now there are more droughts than ever… as there are some who underestimate the alarms.

These two fishermen carry a boat across mud that remains of what was formerly a lake. Likely, it will be so again, when drought ends. However, nobody knows the exact date.

Since the time we know began, there have always been alternation of wet and dry periods, even in places like this, in Botswana, in the northern Kalahari Desert. But now, the dry season is longer and crueler. Too many lakes have dried up in the last few years.

It’s possible that these men will be able to fish here again. Hopefully. But thousands of people have permanently lost their subsistence sources due to climate change.

The indescribable tenant of the White House has dared to say that climate change is an exaggeration, mounted by the enemies of global capital. Clearly, he hasn’t asked the people who fished in rivers that no longer exist.

Nor has he asked scientists, of course.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSí Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Vintage film reveals Antarctic glaciers are melting faster than thought

We can learn a lot about the future from the past, and now environmental scientists have found a way to look further back in time in more detail than ever before. By studying vintage film containing radar data of Antarctica gathered throughout the 1970s, the team found that the ice shelf of Thwaites Glacier is melting even faster than we thought.

About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier lies on the western coast of Antarctica and is a key piece of the continent’s structure. It stands between the ocean and other glaciers, so it’s thought that if Thwaites falls others will soon follow.

And sadly, this is among the places climate change has hit the hardest. A recent study showed that almost a quarter of glacier ice in West Antarctica has become unstable, with ice loss happening five times faster now than it was in the 1990s. Thwaites Glacier in particularly vulnerable, after another survey discovered a huge cavity eating away at the ice from underneath.

But this is all based on modern data, gathered between 1992 and 2017. To make the most accurate predictions for the future, it’s important to cast the net as far back in time as possible. And now, scientists from Stanford, Cambridge, Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh have widened the window back to the early 1970s.

Dustin Schroeder (front) and art historian Jessica Daniel, preparing the film for digitizationDustin Schroeder (front) and art historian Jessica Daniel, preparing the film for digitization.

The team has digitized old film reels of data gathered between 1971 and 1979. This data was the result of around 250,000 miles (400,000 km) of flights across Antarctica during that decade, using ice-penetrating radar to examine the structure of the ice and the landscape beneath it.

By comparing the measurements taken back then to those gathered more recently, the team was able to get a sense of how much had changed in the intervening 40 to 50 years.

“By having this record, we can now see these areas where the ice shelf is getting thinnest and could break through,” says Dustin Schroeder, lead author of the study. “This is a pretty hard-to-get-to area and we’re really lucky that they happened to fly across this ice shelf.”

The researchers found that the old data was surprisingly detailed, allowing them to identify features like ash layers from past volcanic eruptions, and channels underneath the ice sheet where water is eroding the ice.

In particular, one of these channels was found to have remained fairly stable over the last 40 years – Thwaites, on the other hand, appears to have lost even more ice than previously thought, shrinking by up to a third between 1978 and 2009. And because the stable channel provides a good baseline comparison, the researchers can be more sure about the results.!/quality/90/? hundred rolls of vintage film were condensed into 75 before being digitized.

“The fact that we were able to have one ice shelf where we can say, ‘Look, it’s pretty much stable. And here, there’s significant change’ – that gives us more confidence in the results about Thwaites,” says Schroeder.

This study helps fill in more details about the environmental history of Antarctica, and how climate change is affecting it. Unfortunately, as usual it’s not great news.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef In "Very Poor" Condition, Says State Agency

Sydney: Australia's Great Barrier Reef is in very poor condition because of climate change, over fishing and land clearing, a state agency said on Friday, as it downgraded the reef's status to the lowest level, which could jeopardise its World Heritage status.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) said the health of the world's largest coral reef system, off the northeast coast of the Queensland state, had deteriorated since its last review, in 2014, but the problems the reef faces were not insurmountable.

"This report draws attention to the fact that the outlook for the Great Barrier Reef, the long term outlook, is very poor- that's largely driven by climate change," GBRMPA's Chief Scientists David Wachenfeld told reporters in Sydney.

"Despite that, with the right mix of local actions to improve the resilience of the system and global actions to tackle climate change in the strongest and fastest way possible, we can turn that around."

The report, which is compiled every five years, painted a deteriorating picture of widespread coral bleaching, habitat loss and degradation caused by human-induced climate change, overfishing, poor water quality, and coastal land clearing for grazing.

The reef stretching for more than 2,300 km (1430 miles) is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs.

Some parts of the reefs remained in good condition but many species including dolphins, dugongs, sharks, rays and turtles were being threatened.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee last year called for global action on climate change to protect five large coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef.

The committee is due to consider the reef's heritage listing, considering its health and a possible "in danger" status.

"The Great Barrier Reef is one of the globe's most famous World Heritage Areas yet the report finds that its integrity is challenged and deteriorating," environmentalist group Australian Marine Conservation Society said in a statement.

"This is now the third Outlook Report. We've had ten years of warnings, ten years of rising greenhouse emissions and ten years watching the Reef heading for a catastrophe," said the group's director of strategy, Imogen Zethoven.

"This report will be a major input into UNESCO's committee and here is a very strong case for the reef to be considered for the in danger list."

The inclusion of the reef on the in danger list would be an embarrassment for the government and could damage the tourist industry.

Europe warming faster than expected due to climate change

Climate change is increasing the number of days of extreme heat and decreasing the number of days of extreme cold in Europe, posing a risk for residents in the coming decades, according to a new study.

Temperatures in Europe have hit record highs this summer, passing 46.0 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in southern France. New research in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters finds the number of summer days with extreme heat has tripled since 1950 and summers have become hotter overall, while the number of winter days with extreme cold decreased in frequency by at least half and winters have become warmer overall.

The new study finds parts of Europe are warming faster than climate models project.

"Even at this regional scale over Europe, we can see that these trends are much larger than what we would expect from natural variability. That's really a signal from climate change," said Ruth Lorenz, a climate scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, and lead author of the new study.

Extreme heat is dangerous because it stresses the human body, potentially leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Scientists knew climate change was warming Europe, but they mostly studied long-term changes in extreme temperatures. The new study looked at observational data to evaluate whether the climate models used for regional projections can reproduce observed trends.

In the new study, Lorenz and her colleagues used observational data taken by European weather stations from 1950-2018 and then analyzed the top 1% of the hottest heat extremes and highest humidity extremes, and the top 1% coldest days during that period.

"We looked further at the hottest day or coldest night per year, so for each year we looked for the maximum/minimum value and how these changed over time," Lorenz said.

They found the number of extreme heat days in Europe has tripled since 1950, while the number of extreme cold days decreased by factors of two or three depending on the region. Extremely hot days have become hotter by an average of 2.30 degrees Celsius (4.14 degrees Fahrenheit), while extremely cold days have warmed by 3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) on average. The hottest days and coldest nights warmed significantly more than their corresponding summer and winter mean temperatures.

Individual regions throughout Europe experienced drastically different temperature trends, which makes it difficult to compare the average European temperatures to specific stations' extremes, according to the authors. In Central Europe, the extremes warmed by 0.14 degrees Celsius (0.25 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade more than the summer mean, equivalent to an almost 1.0 degree Celsius (1.8 degree Fahrenheit) increase more than the average over the whole study period, according to Lorenz.

More than 90% of the weather stations studied showed the climate was warming, a percentage too high to purely be from natural climate variability, according to the researchers.

The results also showed that the region was warming faster than climate models projected. Some regions experienced higher extremes than expected and some had lower extremes that expected.

"In the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the model trends are about two times lower than the observed trends," said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate analysist at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt, Netherlands, who was not connected to the new study. "We're reaching new records faster than you'd expect."

European summers and winters will only grow hotter in the coming years as climate change accelerates, impacting cities and people unprepared for rising temperatures, according to the study authors.

"Lots of people don't have air conditioning for instance and it makes this really important," Lorenz said. "We expected results based on modeling studies but it's the first time we see it in what we've observed so far."

Story Source:

Materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

More rain yet less water expected for up to 250 million people along the Nile

Hot and dry conditions coupled with increasing population will reduce the amount of water available for human, agricultural and ecological uses along the Nile River, according to a study from Dartmouth College.

The study, published in the AGU journal Earth's Future, shows that water scarcity is expected to worsen in coming decades even as climate models suggest more precipitation around the river's source in the Upper Nile Basin.

An increase in the frequency of hot and dry years could impact the water and food supplies for as many as 250 million people in the Upper Nile region alone toward the end of the century.

"Climate extremes impact people," said Ethan Coffel, a fellow at Dartmouth's Neukom Institute for Computational Science and lead author of the study. "This study doesn't only look at high-level changes in temperature or rainfall, it explains how those conditions will change life for real people."

The Upper Nile Basin is a chronically water-stressed region that includes western Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Uganda. Nearly all of the rain that feeds the Nile's northward flow to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea falls in this area that is already home to 200 million people.

"It's hard to overstate the importance of the Nile, and the risk of increasing water insecurity in an already water-scarce place," said Justin Mankin, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth and senior researcher on the study. "The Nile has served as an oasis for water, food, commerce, transportation and energy for thousands of years. But we show that the river won't be able to consistently provide all of those competing services in coming decades."

Using a mix of available climate models, the study demonstrates that it is likely that the Upper Nile Basin will experience an increase in regional precipitation for the remainder of this century. The projected upward trend in precipitation comes as a result of increased atmospheric moisture normally associated with warming.

At the same time, the study finds that hot and dry years in the region have become more frequent over the past four decades. Despite some uncertainties in the models, this trend is projected to continue throughout the century with the frequency of hot and dry years as much as tripling even if warming is limited to only 2 degrees Celsius.

Further complicating conditions, population in the region is projected to nearly double by 2080 and will impose large additional demands on water resources.

As a result, the report finds that increased evaporation from higher temperatures coupled with the doubling of runoff demand from a larger population counteract any projected increase in rainfall. The trend of increased precipitation will simply be too slow to result in significant changes in runoff over the time periods studied.

"At first glance you would expect more rain to reduce scarcity, but not on the Nile. The dice are loaded for additional hot and dry years in the future, meaning increasing shocks to households because of crop yield declines and less water available for households to be resilient against warming temperatures," said Mankin.

According to the study, annual demand for water runoff from the Nile will regularly exceed supply by 2030, causing the percentage of the Upper Nile population expected to suffer from water scarcity to rise sharply. By 2080, the study estimates that as much as 65 percent of the regional population -- 250 million people -- could face chronic water scarcity during excessively hot and dry years.

Even during normal years, the researchers found that as many as 170 million people on average could encounter unmet demand annually by the latter part of the century. Fewer than 25 million people in the region are projected to suffer from water scarcity in 2020.

Most of the increase in water demand is expected to occur during a period of rapid population rise between 2020 and 2040.

"The Nile Basin is one of several fast growing, predominantly agricultural regions that is really on the brink of severe water scarcity. Climate change coupled with population growth will make it much harder to provide food and water for everyone in these areas. Those environmental stresses could easily contribute to migration and even conflict," said Coffel.

To confirm the connection between the impact on food supply and climate conditions in the region, the researchers assessed agricultural yields data from six major crops in Ethiopia's food supply: maize, millet, barley, pulses, sorghum, and wheat.

While food shortages in the region are complex, and can result from a variety of factors such as governance and conflict, the study demonstrates that nearly all recent regional crop failures have occurred amid hot and dry conditions when water runoff is scarcer.

According to the paper, the frequency of hot and dry years that can cause poor crop yields is projected to increase from 10 percent to 15 percent depending on modelling assumptions on climate and greenhouse gas emissions. The result is less water and less food for a growing population.

"We already have a global-scale picture of water scarcity, but that does not tell the story for people in any particular place. With this study, we are able to explain these changes in water scarcity and what that actually means for the millions of people who are going to be in water poverty. It is no longer just colors of basins on a map."

Researchers from Columbia University and the United States Military Academy contributed to this study.

Key Numbers: In the Upper Nile Basin Region...

  • up to 250 million people (65% of population) at risk of water scarcity by 2080
  • 150% to 300% increase in frequency of hot and dry years even if warming limited to 2 degrees Celsius
  • between 19-60 million additional people that will suffer from water scarcity in hot and dry years as compared to normal years in the decade of 2080
  • up to 170 million average population with unmet water demand during normal years (2080)
  • up to 200 million average population with unmet water demand during hot and dry years (2080)
  • from 200 billion m3/yr to 400 billion m3/yr increase in runoff demand

Story Source:

Materials provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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