Challenge the Adult World, Pope’s Call to Youth Climate Change Activists

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Pope Francis thanked a youth climate activist conference on Wednesday for the participants’ “dreams and projects of goodness” and encouraged them to keep up their advocacy of action to combat climate change.

Speaking in Spanish via video to the Youth4Climate event in Milan, which drew 400 young activists from 197 countries, the Pope said their work is “for the good of humanity,” and it “is capable of challenging the adult world,” according to NBC News.

Meaningful Sacrifices for the Earth

The Roman Catholic Church that Pope Francis leads has long advocated for environmental protection, and the current Pope has been especially outspoken about climate change. Earlier this month, in a joint statement, Pope Francis, the archbishop of Canterbury, who leads the global Anglican Communion, and the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church called for everyone to make “meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth.”

Harmony between People and Environment

The Pope, whose church claims more than 1.3 billion adherents worldwide, struck a more conciliatory tone in his address. “There must be harmony between people, men and women, and the environment.” He asked the young activists to help build a “culture of care” for the earth.

The youth climate event comes on the heels of a climate strike organized by youth environmental movement Fridays for Future, in which young people rallied in 1,500 cities worldwide last Friday.

Insufficient Action

In her speech to the rally held on Friday in Berlin, renowned 18-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg criticized U.S. President Biden and other heads of state for taking insufficient action to reduce climate change, saying, “World leaders are talking about ‘building back better,’ promising green investments and setting vague and distant climate targets in order to say that they are taking climate action.”

On Tuesday, Thunberg mocked those same leaders for what she views as hollow rhetoric on climate change.

“When I say ‘climate change,’ what do you think of? I think jobs. Green jobs. Green jobs,” she said, imitating Biden’s political pitch for his Build Back Better agenda.

No Planet Blah

“We must find a smooth transition towards a low carbon economy. There is no Planet B. There is no Planet Blah. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” she added in what CNN reported was a reference to a speech given by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Time and time again, the leaders today show that they do not care about the future — at least it doesn’t seem like it,” Thunberg said in a video conference call from Stockholm ahead of the Berlin rally. “They say that they listen to us young people, but they are obviously not. They have proven that now again. And that is why we will be back on the streets.”

Thunberg has called on world governments to do more to keep temperatures from exceeding a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius, above which the vast majority of climate scientists say will result in a cascading sequence of extreme weather disasters.

The youth climate summit aims to build pressure and momentum for a strong global agreement to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming at the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in November in Glasgow, Scotland. Scientists say that if emissions do not begin to rapidly decrease in this decade, the world will inevitably blow through the goals of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, with catastrophic consequences.

People under 40 will Experience Unprecedented Life, Finds Study

Under current global climate policies, children born in 2021 worldwide face a dire future of climate disasters with disproportionate rates of flooding, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and crop failures compared to their grandparents, according to a study published Sunday.

The study, published in the journal Science, found that children born in 2021 will on average live on an Earth with seven times more heatwaves, twice as many wildfires, and almost three times as many droughts, river floods and crop failures as people born 60 years ago.

The new study finds that if global temperatures continue to rise at their current pace, today’s kids will experience three times the number of climate disasters as their grandparents did.

Published Sunday, the study concludes that the average 6-year-old can expect to face “twice as many wildfires, 1.7 times as many tropical cyclones, 3.4 times more river floods, 2.5 more crop failures and 2.3 times as many droughts as someone born in 1960.”

The study helps quantify the worsening reality of climate crisis.

The past few years of record wildfires, crippling drought, increasing flash-flooding and more powerful tropical cyclones have helped many people appreciate that the effects of climate change are already being felt. Yet, while a growing number of Americans seems to accept the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are pushing the Earth’s temperatures higher and causing dire consequences, the stakes for young people are markedly higher.

recent study found that 45 percent of young people ages 16 to 25 said they suffer “high levels of psychological distress” due to climate change and the lack of action being taken to fix it by world governments.


In sub-Saharan Africa, 172 million children face a six fold increase in extreme events over their lifetimes and 50 times more heatwaves. This compares to 53 million children of the same age born in Europe and Central Asia, who will face about four times more extreme events as their grandparents, according to the statement.

For young children in sub-Saharan Africa, the risks are especially pronounced. Infants who live in that part of the world are likely to endure 50 to 54 times as many heat waves as those experienced by someone born in preindustrial times.

In all, today’s children will have to contend with “an average of five times more disasters than if they lived 150 years ago” if GHG are not curbed in a meaningful way.

These extreme climate events will also disproportionately affect children in developing countries, said researchers who computed lifetime exposures to climate events for every generation born between 1960 and 2020 in every country across the globe.

While current policies put the world on course for a warming of 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, according to the statement from the researchers, meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would significantly reduce the burden of extreme climate events on the next generation.

“This basically means that people younger than 40 today will live an unprecedented life even under the most stringent climate change mitigation scenarios,” lead author Wim Thiery said in a statement. “Our results highlight a severe threat to the safety of young generations and call for drastic emission reductions to safeguard their future.”

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a public university in Belgium, led the study, which included an international team of more than 30 researchers from universities including Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham in England.

Children who will suffer through “climate extremes” unfairly face the consequences of the inaction of today’s adults, study co-author Joeri Rogelj said in the statement.

Reducing emissions can make a difference, Rogelj added.

“With this study we lay bare the fundamental injustice of climate change across generations, as well as the responsibilities of today’s adults and elders in power,” he said.

Co-author Simon Gosling supported setting more ambitious plans to reduce GHG emissions.

“Our research shows very clearly the responsibility that the current generation holds for future generations in terms of climate change,” Gosling said in the statement, which praised efforts by the world’s youth to increase climate change awareness through school strikes and protests.

Wim Thiery, a climate scientist at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium and the lead author of the study, said the work was in part inspired by his own children, who are 7, 5 and 2.

“Young people are being hit by climate crisis but are not in position to make decisions,” he told. “While the people who can make the change happen will not face the consequences.”

When the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest assessment to policymakers in August, it noted that the window of opportunity to keep temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius was quickly closing.

The next big opportunity for world leaders to commit themselves to lowering GHG emissions will come in November at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Americans’ concern about climate hits all-time highs

A record number of Americans are concerned about global warming, according to a new poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

The number of Americans who said they are “very” or “somewhat worried” about global warming has reached an all-time high of 70%, the Yale group found as part of a survey it has been conducting since 2008.

The polling suggests that the extreme weather seen this summer may be shifting minds. It comes the same week that Congress is debating pivotal infrastructure bills that would boost federal support for electric vehicles and move the electricity sector toward renewables.

The percentage of respondents in the nationally representative survey who said they are “very worried” about global warming increased by 10 points between March and September, the center stated in a report.

In addition, Americans’ belief that global warming is happening has increased 6 percentage points since March, with those who think it is occurring outnumbering those who don’t by more than 6 to 1, the report states.

In another significant swing, a majority of Americans — 55% —now say people in this country are being harmed “right now” by global warming. Previous surveys had never found that question to garner 50% support or greater.

The poll conducted in September 10-20 had a sample size of 1,006 and a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

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