Category Archives: climate change

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Climate Activists Take Countries to Court

Young Portuguese Climate Activists Take 32 Countries to Court Over Inadequate Climate Action

This month six young individuals from Portugal are taking legal action against 32 countries through the European Court of Human Rights.

They accuse these nations of failing to adequately address the urgent issue of climate change. The basis of their argument lies in the assertion that the climate crisis directly violates several fundamental rights safeguarded by the European Convention on Human Rights. activists-photo

These rights include the right to life, the right to privacy, protection from inhumane or degrading treatment, and the right not to be subjected to discrimination.

The origins of this case can be traced back to a devastating wildfire that ravaged Portugal in 2017, resulting in a significant loss of life. However, the lawsuit goes beyond this particular event, highlighting the broader and ongoing consequences of climate change, which are already affecting people’s lives in numerous ways.

The accused countries encompass all the members of the European Union, along with Norway, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. The sheer scale of this legal battle is unprecedented and is being closely watched by legal experts and environmental activists alike.

The countries facing these allegations argue that the young plaintiffs cannot be considered unique victims of the climate crisis and question the extent of the harm experienced or anticipated by them. If the court rules in favour of the plaintiffs, it could set a crucial legal precedent linking climate change and human rights.court photo

Such a ruling might empower climate activists to seek legal remedies in their respective national courts, compelling their governments to take more substantial actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This legal case follows previous efforts by environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, to hold governments accountable for their commitments to combat climate change through legal channels, with outcomes that have varied. The European Court of Human Rights is expected to render a judgment on this case within a timeframe of nine to eighteen months.

Find out more about the case

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New research suggests signs of an ocean circulation collapse

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that the Gulf Stream system, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), could collapse as soon as 2025.AMOC diagram

AMOC plays a crucial role in carrying warm ocean water northwards, driving the Atlantic’s currents. However, increasing freshwater influx from melting ice caps, especially from Greenland, is disrupting these currents.

The consequences of an AMOC collapse would be catastrophic, affecting rainfall patterns in India, South America, and West Africa, increasing storms and lowering temperatures in Europe, raising sea levels on the eastern coast of North America, and endangering the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets.

The AMOC ocean currents are currently at its weakest state in the last 1,600 years due to global heating, and warning signs of a tipping point were observed and reported on in 2021.

The research suggests the collapse could occur between 2025 and 2095, with an estimated central point of 2050 if global carbon emissions are not reduced.

The study utilised sea surface temperature data to estimate the timing of the tipping point based on a type of tipping point called a “saddle-node bifurcation.”

Some scientists have expressed concerns about uncertainties in data and assumptions about tipping points, they agree that the potential collapse of AMOC should urge rapid cuts in carbon emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) most recent assessment concluded that AMOC would not collapse this century, but researchers argue that their models may be overly conservative.

The new study emphasises the need for further research and a collective effort to address the risks associated with AMOC collapse.

Find out more about AMOC and the risks it poses

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Coping with the Scorching Heatwave: How Communities Are Adapting

As the planet grapples with the escalating effects of climate change, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense. Heatwaves, in particular, are posing a significant threat to human health, the environment, and daily life. These events have resulted in death tolls, with last summer’s heatwave killing more than 61,000 people across Europe. Heat-related illnesses, particularly among vulnerable populations, are escalating concerns. temperature map

Governments and communities worldwide are mobilising to combat the heatwave menace. Europe, in particular, is taking proactive measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidance to support national and local authorities in preparing for extreme heat events. Various cities have implemented heat action plans, established cooling centres, and educated residents on the risks associated with heatwaves.

Spain and Greece have enforced bans on outdoor work during the hottest hours of the day, responding to previous fatalities caused by heat-related illnesses. France’s heat watch warning system, launched after a deadly heatwave in 2003, sets an example for public announcements urging people to stay hydrated during such events. Germany has followed France’s lead and launched a campaign to address heatwave deaths.

Innovative initiatives are emerging to tackle the extreme heat, especially in urban areas where heat island effects are most significant.

Barcelona, Spain, proposes painting rooftops white to reflect the sun’s rays. Meanwhile, London’s historic buildings are showing signs of damage due to prolonged drought and heat, calling for modernisation that considers extreme temperatures.

At the individual level, people are adopting lifestyle changes to minimise heatwave impact, such as staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activities during peak heat hours, and using energy-efficient appliances.

heat island imageCommunities are embracing tree planting and green space creation to combat the urban heat island effect and provide much-needed shade and cooling. Additionally, the advocacy for clean energy sources and stringent climate policies is gaining momentum to address the long-term effects of heatwaves.

Despite the ongoing threat, the collective efforts of society offer hope for a more resilient and sustainable future. With continued proactive measures and heightened environmental consciousness, individuals and communities strive to adapt and thrive in the face of heatwaves, forging a path towards a cooler, healthier planet.

The Teaching the Future project team believes school education is essential in dealing with these issues. It has published a report that reviewed and analysed education initiatives to improve teaching about climate change and its impacts and will create a training course for teachers to introduce data-driven science into the classroom.

Download the full report

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Summer 2023 shows extreme weather effects from climate change

2023 has seen wildfires, heatwaves, and major floods. Meanwhile, ocean temperatures are increasing, with average surface temperatures reaching unprecedented levels for June and sea ice failing to regrow in the Antarctic.antarctic ice graph

Throughout July, extreme weather has caused havoc across the planet, with temperatures breaking records in China, the United States and southern Europe, sparking forest fires, water shortages and a rise in heat-related hospital admissions.

World Weather Attribution is an initiative where scientists attempt to quantify how climate change influences the intensity and likelihood of an extreme weather event. Their latest research suggests human-induced climate change has played clear role in the extreme heatwaves that have swept across North America, Europe and China in July 2023. 

El Nino has probably also contributed to the extreme heatwaves. El Nino is a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific, but rising greenhouse gases were the major factor, the scientists said, and heatwaves will become increasingly likely if emissions are not slashed.heatwave maps The July 2023 heatwaves would have been “virtually impossible without climate change”, said researchers who stressed that extreme weather events would occur with greater frequency if the world continues to warm. Find out more

IPCC climate predictions graphAccording to new research from Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, an impact of more than $122 billion on economic activity is anticipated, with a staggering $81 billion impact in international trade. Parts of northern Europe, the western United States, Southern Australia, the Middle East and West Africa are particularly expected to feel the effects to cross-border trade, mainly because of dependencies on East Asian ports.  Find out more

As part of its digital data dashboard developments, the Teaching the Future project has used UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data to examine how future generations will experience the warming created by climate change. This data summarises advanced climate research from hundreds of leading scientists. It suggests the risks of warming are even greater than was thought at the time of the last assessment in 2014. The IPCC report has been signed off by governments worldwide, but a lack of political commitment was a major barrier to progress.

Graphics showing the IPCC global climate predictions can be freely downloaded from the IPCC Web site.

The UN secretary-general António Guterres had confirmed “The 1.5C limit is achievable. But it will take a quantum leap in climate action.”  “Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once,” he said, urging richer countries to significantly improve their net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets, and strive to achieve the goal by as close to 2040 as possible, rather than by 2050.

 

Climate games and simulations for education

The Teaching the Future project has identified different interesting visualisations that help present climate change issues and a created a gallery of innovative games and simulations related to climate change and teaching the future. games image

Recent research by Imperial College, London has shown that young people aged 16-24 are most likely to be particularly concerned about the impacts of climate change. This is partly because climate information is often hard to understand and follow, especially when suggested actions require changes in lifestyle.

study on climate change anxiety published in the Lancet found that children and young people demonstrated climate anxiety and widespread dissatisfaction with government responses in countries across the world. This is partly because because the climate crisis is so complex and lacks a clear solution. Education clearly has a role to play in dealing with this.

Games on the subject of climate change are well-suited to address the challenge of dealing with the complex issues involved, engaging people in the challenges involved.

Games can help communicate climate change in a manner that spurs involvement and motivates participants to take action. This is partly because many innovative design features of games can be integrated to blur the boundaries between reality and the virtual world.

The integration of game thinking and game mechanics in education has been described as gamification. One of the central advantages of gamification is the enjoyment created by making tasks more engaging, fun and interesting to complete. In turn, that increases people’s motivation to complete them.

Research carried out by Yee (2016) identified six different game elements that motivate gamers and encourage participation.

Action (e.g., objectives)
Social (e.g., competition)
Mastery (e.g., scoring)
Achievement (e.g., awards, rewards)
Immersion (e.g., role playing) and
Creativity (e.g., customisation)

It is important to realise therefore that games and game-based learning are valuable approaches to teaching the complexity of addressing climate change and part of the toolbox that educators can use to engage young people.

Visit the TTF gallery to try out the innovative simulations and games.

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IPCC Climate report focuses on science for citizens

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report from the climate scientists has given a ‘final warning’ to policy makers on the crucial need for action on climate change. It clearly says we must fast-track climate efforts across every country.UN image

The report states that “attention to equity and broad and meaningful participation” can build “social trust” and so “deepen and widen support for transformative changes.”. The  radical social changes encouraged by this report won’t happen without the consent and participation of citizens around the world.

For many years, this critical part of the climate change response has been ignored. Socially marginalised and economically vulnerable citizens, and those who are more impacted by changing temperatures, remain excluded from the conversation.

According to Climate Home News, Governments have a duty – embedded in article 6 of the Paris Agreementto educate their citizens on climate change, involve them in policymaking and ensure they have all the necessary information.

The UNFCCC’s Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) is made up of six elements: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation. ACE image

These six principles are all core to public engagement, and most importantly to holding governments accountable.

Scientists providing even more frightening information about future impacts of climate change can be overwhelming and not helpful.

Positive campaigns are needed, involving education, that give people the feeling that it is possible to do something about climate change, they can be involved and that that something has the potential to make a difference.

The IPCC report highlights bringing people together to take action on climate change requires a bottom up,  participatory approach engaging and involving people. Climate education is one clear step we can and should take to inform and advise Governments and citizens to do more.

Find out more about Action for Climate Empowerment

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Where do teachers find the resources for teaching Climate change?

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and teachers play a crucial role in educating the next generation about it. However, with the vast amount of information available online, it can be challenging for teachers to find reliable and accurate sources of information on climate change.

misinformation imageResearch undertaken in preparation for the Teaching the Future project showed that most teachers rely on television reports and social media to get information on climate change, however unbiased reporting is not very common on many new channels and there have been many disinformation and misinformation campaigns spread on social media. FInd out more about these issues.

To address this issue, many teachers turn to trusted sources such as government agencies, scientific organisations, and educational institutions. For example, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a website called Climate.gov that provides a wealth of information on climate science, including articles, data, and multimedia resources. Teachers can use this website to access reliable and up-to-date information on climate change to incorporate into their lessons. The European Commission has an EU Science Hub on climate change.

march pictureThe Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition aiming to fight dangerous climate change. It has more than 170 member organisations active in 38 European countries, representing in excess of 1.500 NGOs and more than 47million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.

The European Climate Foundation (ECF) is a major philanthropic initiative working to help tackle the climate crisis by fostering the development of a net-zero emission society at the national, European, and global level. The ECF supports over 700 partner organisations to carry out activities that drive urgent and ambitious policy in support of the objectives of the Paris Agreement, contribute to the public debate on climate action, and help deliver a socially responsible transition to a net-zero economy and sustainable society in Europe and around the world.

IPCC logoAnother source of information is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is an organisation that brings together scientists and policymakers from around the world to assess the state of knowledge on climate change. The IPCC produces reports that summarise the latest research on climate change and its impacts, which teachers can use to stay informed and incorporate into their curriculum.

clinate reality project imageEducational institutions such as universities and research centres are also valuable sources of information for teachers. They often have specialised departments or programs dedicated to climate science that provide access to cutting-edge research and resources for teachers to use in their classrooms.

In addition to these sources, there are also numerous non-profit organisations that focus on climate education, such as the Climate Reality Project and Action for Climate Emergency. These organisations offer a range of resources, including lesson plans, webinars, and professional development opportunities, to help teachers incorporate climate education into their curriculum.

By staying informed and up-to-date on the latest research and information, teachers can help their students understand the science behind climate change and the importance of taking action to address it.

Find out more about education and climate change from the Teaching the Future Report

 

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Celebrating World Open Data Day

Open Data Day (ODD) was celebrated by the Open Data Charter this year on March 23rdODD logo 2023 . Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data all over the world, where groups and communities gather to reach out to new people and build new solutions using open data.

Creating awareness around open data and its benefits aims to encourage governments, businesses, and civil society initiatives worldwide to adopt open data policies and inspire others to do the same.

Since 2015, the Open Knowledge Foundation – in cooperation with other NGOs from the open data world – has offered mini-grants to support the facilitation of events around the globe. This year’s Open Data Day gave out mini-grants for communities that work on: environmental data, tracking public money flows, open mapping, data for equal development, and ocean data for a thriving planet.

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ODD is a chance for people around the world to support and encourage the adoption of open data policies by local, regional and central governments.

The Open Data Charter is a collaboration between over 170 governments and other organisations working to open up data based on a shared set of principles. EUROGEO has been a signatory of the Charter since 2019. It promotes policies and practices that enable governments and CSOs to collect, share, and use well-governed data, to respond effectively and accountably to the following focus areas: anti-corruption, climate action and pay equity.

The Teaching the Future project was presented by the project coordinator Karl Donert at the Open Data Charter series of events. EUROGEO has been involved in promoting access to open data through its projects and publications. The Teaching the Future data dashboard takes open climate data and makes it accessible to teachers and learners. Try out our open data climate dashboard.

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Testing the TTF Climate Data Dashboard

data dashboard imageTeaching the Future is an initiative to address the need for reliable authoritative climate-related data for students and teachers.

The Teaching the Future project has reviewed teacher needs, discussed the data issues with climate experts, teacher educators and climate scientists and invited responses from the wider educational community through involvement in the European Commission Education for Climate  initiative.

Data dashboards manage information to visually track, assess and displays a range of indicators, metrics and key data points to monitor the situation of a specific process.

Pilot testing of v1 of the Teaching the Future climate data dashboard is under way

dashboard imageA number of errors have been identified and bug fixes have been applied.

We have launched a second version of the data dashboard which is ready for testing – now there are 2 separate data dashboards
D1 – historical climate change data
D2 – predictions of future climate

Please support the project by helping us test the dashboard

You can access the latest version (v2) of the dashboard from
https://teachingthefuture.eu/climate-dashboards/

Download the guide/manual for data and dashboard functions

dashboard image -future climateOnce you have explored the data, we kindly ask you (including teachers and their students) to complete the short usability survey to help the dashboard development.

Did you find it easy to access?
Was the data easy to navigate? 
What features did you like?
What was most challenging?

Here are some activities you could try out

Historical data
Zoom in to your area/city/region country
Notice how the dashboard information changes
Now find a place nearer the pole – has it changed more or less?
What about the equator or Sahara desert?
What about mountain areas like the Alps? Or Seas like the Mediterranean?
Note you can expand each box and even download the data you selected and export it into Excel for further analysis

Prediction data
These are modelled data for the future based on low, medium or high greenhouse gas emissions
This is explained at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_Concentration_Pathway
Again the likely impact of climate change in the future can be explored using the maps and data

These modelled predictions are the basis of much of our policy developments – the class could discuss the challenges of decision making with future uncertainty

Hoping you find it interesting

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Earth Map shows climate data

Earth map graphicEarth Map (https://earthmap.org/) is an innovative and free application developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. It was designed in the framework of the partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and Google. Earth map facilitates the visualisation, processing, and analysis of land and climate data.

Earth Map allows everyone to visualise, process and analyse satellite imagery and global datasets on climate, vegetation, fires, biodiversity, geo-social and other topics.

It was created to support countries, research institutes and even farmers with internet access to monitor their land in an easy, integrated and multi-temporal manner. It is an interesting tool which can be used to help with teaching about climate and climate change.

Users need no prior knowledge of remote sensing or Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Look at the video embedded here to find out more.

Earth Map’s data is divided into different thematic segments, including Climate, Geosocial, Vegetation, Land Degradation Neutrality, Water, Satellite images, Land maps, Forestry, Fire, Geophysical, Soil and Biodiversity.

The data allows users to visualise different layers of information to create maps and to generate statistics to describe the areas of interest.

These layers include data from the European Space Agency’s Climate Change Initiative, the Copernicus ECMWF Temperature and Precipitation ERA5 data and Global Forest Change tree cover loss.

Earth Map allows users to access and display information from different time periods. It  thereby gives  both a temporal (accessing time series data) and a spatial (visualising places) perspective to their areas of interest.

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Find out moreVisit Earth Map