“This is all wrong!” These words begin the most powerful four-minute speech I have ever heard. They were spoken by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate activist, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit last month, and followed a week of climate strikes and marches attended by an estimated six million people. Can young people really wake the world to the urgency of changing direction? By Peter Singer
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Results for Op-Ed World Environment
Friday 27 September 2019
Geoengineering will save us from the climate crisis, its champions insist. By using technology either to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or to deflect some solar radiation away from the Earth, they claim, we can undo the damage wrought by humanity’s failure to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. But while it certainly sounds like a convenient solution, there is no proof that it will work – and no telling what the side effects could be. In the view of Pacific islanders, it barely merits discussion. By François Martel.
Monday 12 August 2019
London, United Kingdom
On the eve of the 50th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting taking place in Tuvalu this week, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland recognises the existential threat which climate change poses to Pacific Islanders. She calls on governments across the globe to urgently meet the terms of the Paris climate change agreement, if we are to save our Pacific Islands, as the rising sea levels could literally engulf thousands of islands in the region by 2100.
Tuesday 25 June 2019
The leaders of the G20 countries head to Osaka this week for their annual summit. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will address them before traveling to Abu Dhabi to finalize the arrangements for September’s UN Climate Action Summit. These meetings should set the world on course for the fastest economic transition in history. Yet both are likely to deliver incremental action, at best. By Johan Rockström
Monday 27 May 2019
Earlier this month, a bleak global assessment of the shocking state of life on Earth made headlines worldwide. According to the report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), about 12% of all known animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. Worse still, humanity is destroying entire habitats, and with them the web of life that supports societies and economies. Unsurprisingly, the findings were greeted with despair. By Ana Paula Aguiar, Odirilwe Selomane, and Pernilla Malmer.
Friday 10 May 2019
Since the massive mobilization effort that preceded the 2009 Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen, the world has begun translating words and intentions into real action on climate change. European leadership – from government, civil society, and business – has played a pivotal role in driving progress. Given how much remains to be done, such leadership must continue – and become stronger.
Thursday 14 March 2019
On the Ides of March (March 15), the day by which ancient Romans were expected to settle their debts, young people in 60 countries around the world will stage a school walkout to press world leaders for more urgent action on climate change. It is a tragedy that younger generations are forced to speak out against the injustice they will suffer as a result of choices made by others; yet, at the same time, it is deeply reassuring to witness their power and passion as they try to change the course of history. By Éloi Laurent
Monday 11 March 2019
We have long known that the accumulation of plastic in the world’s landfills and oceans represents a growing environmental risk. More recently, we have come to understand that plastic poses an urgent – even deadly – threat to public health, too. And yet, global efforts to address the plastic crisis remain consistently focused on the wrong end of the life cycle: waste management. The debate that will resume this month at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) is a case in point, because it will focus on “marine litter and microplastics.” By Lili Fuhr and Jane Patton.
Friday 28 December 2018
New York, USA
This month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland succeeded in producing a rulebook to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Every UN member state signed on. But that will not be enough to head off climate catastrophe. It’s time to call in the engineers. When heads of state convene at the UN next September, the world’s leading engineers should greet them with a cutting-edge framework for global action. Energy transformation for climate safety is our twenty-first-century moonshot. By Jeffrey D. Sachs.
Tuesday 20 November 2018
Washington DC, USA
The Juliana v United States trial is about more than the environment; it will have far-reaching implications for intergenerational justice more broadly. Consider the issue of public debt. There have always been moral objections to one generation burdening the next with excessive debt, effectively limiting young people’s future liberty by impinging on their ability to form families, educate children, and create wealth. By Robert Dugger.
Thursday 18 October 2018
As scientists have conclusively shown, in the last decade, we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, in which human activity – in particular, economic activity – has been the dominant factor influencing Earth’s climate and environment. In the Anthropocene, our planet’s life-support system is changing faster than ever. By Johan Rockström, Jørgen Randers, and Per Espen Stoknes
Tuesday 9 October 2018
San Jose, USA
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body tasked with providing scientific evidence and consensus on climate change and its implications for decision-makers and the public, has just issued its latest, long-awaited report. The challenge it presents to all of us is huge. By Monica Araya and Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
Thursday 20 September 2018
Emergency management efforts will struggle to keep pace with the havoc wrought by climate change, owing to a dangerous disconnect between knowledge and action, even as the scientific evidence piles up. Leaders in most countries consider the status quo to be politically safer. Even weather reports on television typically fail to mention climate change as an underlying cause of severe meteorological events. By Vinod Thomas
Thursday 13 September 2018
Although the details of global warming were foreign to most people in the 1980s, among the few who had a better idea than most were the companies contributing the most to it. Despite scientific uncertainties, the bottom line was this: oil firms recognized that their products added CO2 to the atmosphere, understood that this would lead to warming, and calculated the likely consequences. And then they chose to accept those risks on our behalf, at our expense, and without our knowledge. By Benjamin Franta
Tuesday 11 September 2018
London, United Kingdom
This year, extreme weather conditions have ravaged our planet, subjecting vulnerable communities around the world to the ever-increasing impacts of climate change. With each passing day, we learn more about – and experience directly – the dangerous consequences of extracting and burning fossil fuels. Floods, droughts, and wildfires are becoming deadlier, and weather patterns more severe. By Christiana Figueres and May Boeve.
Wednesday 29 August 2018
There is unprecedented global momentum to build a low-carbon, climate-secure future. However, in fact, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are still accumulating at a rate that will soon take us well above the 1.5°C threshold, beyond which some of the worst effects of climate change cannot be staved off. Extreme weather already is becoming more common, as exemplified by record-high temperatures worldwide this year. On current trends, average global temperatures could well rise by 3°C, imperiling vital natural systems like coral reefs, rainforests, and the polar regions. All relevant stakeholders need to strengthen their climate commitments. By Patricia Espinosa and Anne Hidalgo
Tuesday 14 August 2018
New York, USA
This summer's fires, droughts, and record-high temperatures should serve as a wake-up call. The longer a narrow and ignorant elite condemns Americans and the rest of humanity to wander aimlessly in the political desert, the more likely it is that we will all end up in a wasteland. But instead of a Moses guiding humanity in this new and dangerous wilderness, a gang of science deniers and polluters currently misguides humanity to ever-greater danger. We are all climate refugees now and must chart a path to safety. By Jeffrey D. Sachs.
Thursday 19 July 2018
Since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015, too many policymakers have fallen for the oil and gas industry’s rhetoric about how it can help to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Tall tales about “clean coal,” “oil pipelines to fund clean energy,” and “gas as a bridge fuel” have coaxed governments into rubber-stamping new fossil-fuel projects, even though current fossil-fuel production already threatens to push temperatures well beyond the Paris agreement’s limit of well below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. By Lili Fuhr and Hannah McKinnon
Wednesday 17 January 2018
London, United Kingdom
Plastics are among the most popular materials in use today. Given the material’s versatility, it is little wonder that some 320 million tons of it are used around the world each year. But plastics also pose a serious environmental threat. ...As plastics change, the ways countries integrate them into their economies must change, too. By Michael Stephen
Tuesday 9 January 2018
Washington D.C., U.S.A
The size of oxygen-starved ocean “dead zones,” where plants and animals struggle to survive, has increased fourfold around the world, according to a new scientific analysis. “Oxygen is fundamental to life in the oceans,” said Denise Breitburg, lead author and marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “The decline in ocean oxygen ranks among the most serious effects of human activities on the Earth’s environment.”