Climate protests: Germany’s new green youth movement takes to the streets

Worried teenagers are taking to the streets to protest against climate change. They are more interested in environmental politics than ever before. Will protest also turn into more climate action?

Three teenagers smile and hold up signs towards the camera during a climate march in Bonn. The signs read, in English 'Time is running out!' and 'Wake up humans you're endangered too!'

This has become a common scene in many large cities — students eschewing lessons at school to protest for climate protection. They were inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg who doesn’t go to school on Fridays, instead opting to protest against climate inaction in front of the parliament in Stockholm — with her textbooks of course. She’s even started a new movement called “Fridays For Future.”

The message these young people hope to send to the older generation is increasingly clear: By not doing enough to help the environment, you are gambling away our future.

In fact, teenagers in Germany are more interested in politics than they have ever been before. The topic of environmental protection interests them the most, says youth researcher Klaus Hurrelmann from the Hertie School of Governance, who has spent years studying the changing values, attitudes and habits of Germany’s youth.

The interests of the younger generation extend to all areas that have to do with the environment, explains Hurrelmann. Whether its plastic pollution in our oceans, the death of insects due to the rise of industrial agriculture or just global warming. “These people intuitively feel that these are our natural, existential foundations and we do not want to see them in danger,” Hurrelmann told DW. MORE


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Agrivoltaics: Solar Panels on Farms Could Be a Win-Win

Massachusetts is leading the charge in dual-use solar installations, making it possible to grow some crops and pasture animals while generating clean energy.

The solar panels in the fields at the University of Massachusetts Crop Research and Education Center don’t look like what most of us have come to expect. Instead of hunkering close to the earth, they’re mounted seven feet off the ground, with ample room for farmers or cows to wander underneath. Panels are separated by two- and three-foot gaps, instead of clustering tightly together. Light streams through these spaces and, underneath, rows of leafy kale and Brussels sprouts replace the typical bare earth or grass.

This unusual arrangement is one of the first examples of a dual-use solar installation—sometimes called agrivoltaics. It’s a photovoltaic array that’s raised far enough off the ground and spaced in such a way that some crops can still grow around and beneath the panels. The goal is to help farmers diversify their income through renewable energy generation, while keeping land in agricultural use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. MORE

Arcade Fire & More Canadian Artists Sign Letter Supporting First Nations People’s Stand Against Gas Pipeline

Destroyer, Stars and Peaches are also among the 160 musicians who signed a statement condemning the plan and the Canadian government’s support.

Neil Young joins the pipeline protest with a new song, “Indian Givers”

Arcade FireDestroyerStarsPeachesTokyo Police Club, Tanya Tagaq, Owen Pallett, U.S. Girls, Fucked Up and Arkells are just some of the 160 Canadian musicians who have signed a statement in solidarity with the First Nations Peoples in northern British Columbia blocking access to a proposed pipeline route through their unceded land.

Addressed to the Unist’ot’en Camp, who are the land defenders in Wet’suwet’en territory, the signees note how “we watched, infuriated” as “militarized” Royal Canadian Mounted Police forcibly removed 14 protestors at gunpoint.

“We call the Canadian government to account,” the statement continues, adding that Trudeau might say one thing “but his government’s actions don’t align. Meaningful nation-to-nation relationships are not made at gunpoint.”

It also asserts Trudeau has been “sidestepping the inconvenient truth that the Supreme Court of Canada found in the 1997 Delgamuukw decision that indigenous land rights and title were not extinguished at the time of colonization. As such, the Canadian rule of law states that Wet’suwet’en nation’s hereditary leaders have decision making power on their unceded territory.” MORE


Timber! Why an age-old building material is making a 21st-century comeback in Ontario

Under provincial rules, you can’t construct a wood-frame building more than six storeys tall — but new technologies and initiatives could change all that

University of Toronto wood tower

U of T’s new 14-storey building on top of the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport will be one of the tallest mass-timber-and-concrete hybrid buildings in North America. (MJMA and Patkau Architects/

One of the University of Toronto’s latest building projects, a 14-storey academic building on top of the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, next to Varsity Stadium, is going back to basics — with a twist.

It’ll be constructed mainly of mass timber, and when it’s done, it’ll be one of the tallest mass-timber-and-concrete hybrid buildings in North America.

Yes, wood is back. The building material comes with a number of benefits — environmentally friendly, lightweight — and support from the Ontario government.

Today’s wood building products use what’s called mass timber, which is factory-made to be so dense and large-scale that it’s fire resistant. (We still have building fires because, even if you build with non-combustible concrete, steel, and glass, people fill buildings with flammable items.) MORE

Doug Ford is reviewing Endangered Species Act to find ‘efficiencies for businesses’

Doug Ford seen at his swearing in ceremony on June 28, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Canada’s most populous province has launched a sweeping review of a law protecting endangered species in order to find “efficiencies for businesses.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government announced the review of the provincial Endangered Species Act through a new discussion paper released Friday afternoon by the provincial Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The paper’s wording suggests that Ford’s Progressive Conservatives — who promised in the 2018 election campaign to make Ontario “open for business” — are eager to soften the existing legislation and reduce onerous obligations on businesses. These obligations were put in place to help protect endangered species like the caribou — the iconic species featured on Canadian quarters — that are at risk of disappearing from regions of Ontario and other provinces due to industrial development.

Another environmental law, Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, requires the government to begin a 45-day public consultation period as part of what it is calling its 10th-year review of the endangered species law. The consultation is now open. MORE

Obscene gap between rich and poor, says Oxfam

There is no excuse in Canada for cutting public services, as Ontario Premier Doug Ford, shown here June 29, 2018, has done, says Oxfam official Lauren Ravon. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Billionaires in Canada have increased their wealth by $20 billion over the last year, says a new Oxfam report on global inequality.

In the same time, the 4.5 per cent of the country’s wealth held by the poorest half of Canadians remained static.

More public services and higher taxes on the wealthy are @oxfamCanada solutions to inequality as Canada’s 46 billionaires get richer, widening the gap from poor people.

The report titled Public Good or Private Wealth recommends increased spending on public services and higher taxes on rich individuals and large corporations to close the gap between the world’s top money makers and the majority.

“The scale of this is so obscene, it’s hard to wrap your head around it,” Lauren Ravon, Oxfam Canada’s director of policy and campaigns, told National Observer. “It’s just these staggering figures.” MORE

IPCC authors urge NEB to consider climate impacts of Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Scientists Kirsten Zickfeld and Mark Jaccard say oilsands expansion is inconsistent with Canada’s climate goals. Photo by Michael Ruffolo

A pair of experts on global warming have thrown their support behind a new legal motion urging the National Energy Board to consider all climate-related impacts from the proposed Trans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker expansion in its latest review of the project.

The motion was filed on Monday by environmental group The two experts have contributed to major international scientific assessment reports about climate change. Both of them warned that Canada needs to do its part by stopping the growth of emissions from the country’s oilsands deposits of northern Alberta. Oilsands companies would be able to expand well beyond current production levels if the project to ship more oil gets the green light.

Founders of plastic waste alliance ‘investing billions in new plants’

European NGO says firms are likely to be at centre of global boom in plastic production

Plastic bottles and other rubbish washed up on a beach in Ireland.
 The Alliance to End Plastic Waste has committed $1bn (£778m) over the next five years to reduce plastic production and improve recycling. Photograph: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

The founding companies behind a self-styled alliance to end plastic waste are among the world’s biggest investors in new plastic productions plants, according to a European NGO.

A majority of the firms which announced this week they were collaborating to try to help tackle plastic pollution are likely to be at the heart of a global boom in plastic production over the next 10 years.

“These kind of actions want to cure the image of plastic. But plastics don’t have an image problem – the exaggerated use of it in products with a short lifespan is a problem in itself.”

“These kind of actions want to cure the image of plastic. But plastics don’t have an image problem – the exaggerated use of it in products with a short lifespan is a problem in itself,”Together the companies have committed $1bn (£778m) over the next five years to reduce plastic production and improve recycling, with an aspiration to raise that to $1.5bn if more members join.

But most of the founding firms have tens of billions of dollars riding on the need for global plastic production to continue growing over the next decade and more. MORE


How This Entrepreneur Is Taking On America’s Water Crisis



When her father was diagnosed with diabetes out of the blue, Avant decided to do some research surrounding the water quality in his neighborhood and discovered arsenic in local water supplies. Her findings led her to ask the question, “How many health issues are related to our water supply?”

In 2014, Avant had no choice but to notice the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. After volunteering to help, she found out that there are a number of locations with lead in their water like Flint. Inspired to make a change from her time in Flint, Michigan, she dedicated herself to make water quality data accessible and help people figure out what’s in their water.

Her company, Aquagenuity, is on a mission to improve the quality of life for people in the United States who are exposed to water pollution and threatened by water scarcity every day. Aquagenuity also serves as a water quality Data-as-a-Service platform (DaaS).

The app provides up-to-date, actionable water quality for consumers, corporations and smart cities, allowing users to easily find out what’s in their water and how it impacts them from a health or regulatory perspective. Users also receive a customized roadmap so they can take action, reduce risks, and improve their total water score.

I recently spoke with Avant about data-driven sustainability, Aquagenuity’s blockchain database and how she’s made an impact with her company. MORE