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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #16

Posted on 19 April 2020 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Q&A: Denis Hayes, Planner of the First Earth Day, Discusses the ‘Virtual’ 50th 

Covid-19 forced the event online, but, Hayes says, “There is simply no substitute for a billion people in the streets—and right now, that is against the law."

Denis Hayes

Co-founder of Earth Day Denis Hayes speaks at the speaks at the lighting of the Earth Ball press conference in Times Square on April 22, 2009 in New York City. Credit: Mark Von Holden/WireImage 

Denis Hayes was a 25-year-old graduate student at Harvard University when he read about a Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, who was planning to organize an environmental teach-in on college campuses.

Hayes hightailed it to Washington, D.C., hoping to convince Nelson to let him organize a teach-in at Harvard, and maybe other colleges in and around Boston. Two days later, Hayes dropped out of the John F. Kennedy School of Government to coordinate a national event, "Earth Day."

The day made history. The rest is environmental history, one that neither Hayes nor Nelson even expected.

On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, climate change, deforestation and chemical-intensive agriculture had yet to become existential crises. The issue was pollution, the day a call to action to protect precious resources—-air, water, land and all living things—-from the encroaching toxins of industrial society. That proved enough to draw a crowd.

Twenty million people—10 percent of the population of the United States at the time—-participated in rallies and events from coast to coast that day. Thousands of colleges and universities joined in with organized protests. School children planted trees, swept streets and picked up trash on beaches. What came after changed the world. By the end of 1970, Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

Q&A: Denis Hayes, Planner of the First Earth Day, Discusses the ‘Virtual’ 50th by Evelyn Nieves, InsideClimate News, Apr 17, 2020

Editorial of the Week...

In an Era of Pandemics and Fires, Global Action Is the Only Hope

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where the coronavirus is now eclipsing the dangers of drought and fire, the new pandemic is the starkest reminder yet of how connected we all are. To tackle both the virus and climate change, there is no option but global collaboration.

Smoke from wildfires creates an orange haze behind the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Smoke from wildfires creates an orange haze behind the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Credit: Shelly Rivoli/Alamy

The fifth-most-read article published in the last decade by Orion, the literary environmental quarterly, is a 2012 essay called “State of the Species,?” by science writer Charles C. Mann. When I read it a few months ago, my worldview changed.

It’s an 8,000-word essay that should be read in its entirety, so I’ll just summarize its most salient, crushing point. Homo sapiens has been an unusually successful animal, but “the fate of every successful animal is to wipe itself out.” For example, the population of protozoans in a petri dish stocked with water and nutrients rises, slowly at first, then explosively, until they use up the dish’s resources or drown in their waste. Then their population crashes.

The problem for humans is that our population growth very much resembles the protozoans’. For the first 100,000 years of homo sapiens’ 200,000 years on Earth, humans struggled to survive. Then our population began to grow, slowly at first, far more rapidly after the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago, exponentially in the last couple of centuries — we’ve become a prototypically “successful” species. (Here’s a startling visual representation? of this fact.) But if humans follow the protozoan path, we’ll run out of necessities like food and water or we’ll be engulfed in the consequences of our carbon dioxide emissions, and our population will 

In an Era of Pandemics and Fires, Global Action Is the Only Hope by Jacques Leslie, Letters from California, Yale Environment 360, Apr 2, 2020

Toon of the Week...

2020 Toon 16

Hat tip to the Stop Climate Denial Denial Facebook page. 

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • Extra Warming? Coronavirus & Climate Change (Climate Adam)
  • How does the way we define methane emissions impact the perception of its effects on global warming? (Justine Wickman)
  • SkS New Research for Week #16 (Doug Bostrom)
  • Kim Cobb’s Transition from Climate Science Research to Solutions (Dana)
  • 'What's the best kind of car for the climate?' (Sara Peach)
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #17 (John Hartz)
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #17 (John Hartz)

Climate Feedback Claim Review...

Deforestation can facilitate the emergence and spread of some infectious diseases

CLAIM: "Deforestation has made humans more vulnerable to pandemics"

VERDICT: Mostly Accurate

SOURCE: Deforestation Has Made Humans More Vulnerable to Pandemics, Research Shows, Produced by Lani Chan & Tom McKenna, Now This Video, Mar 20, 2020

KEY TAKE AWAY: Deforestation can facilitate the emergence and spread of infectious diseases by creating habitats well suited for disease vectors and increasing connectivity between humans and wildlife. However, the effects of deforestation, and other land use changes, on human vulnerability to pandemics is a complex process that is not entirely understood. 

Deforestation can facilitate the emergence and spread of some infectious diseases, Edited by Nikki Forrester, Claim Review, Climate Feedback, Apr 1, 2020

SkS Week in Review... 

Poster of the Week...

 2020 Poster 15

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