Hundreds of young students march in Amsterdam against climate change

Solutions

A new march to protest the lack of incisive policies against climate change took place today in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Around 2,000 young people gathered this morning in the centre of the Dutch capital and marched towards Museumplein, one of the city's main squares. 

"We think there is too little political will to do something about climate change and we want to break that," says Caya van de Weg of Youth for Climate, a new platform for all the young people interested in contrasting climate change.

Last weekend, another march to protest climate change drew some 40,000 protesters in Amsterdam, demanding stronger climate change policies.

As reported by Dutchnews.nl, research carried out by the demographic research institute Nidi shows that scepticism around climate change is sharply dropping in the Netherlands.

The number of people agreeing that "stories about the earth warming up are exaggerated" has fallen from 24 percent to 11 percent while almost six in 10 people are now extremely worried about the earth warming up, 23 percentage points up on 10 years ago.

If you want to concretely contribute to halting climate change, you might also consider donating to a highly-effective non-profit that is fighting it. Like Cool Earth, a Kinder-vetted organisation that is working to protect rainforests ðŸ‘‡

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  • Cyclone Idai: How you can help effectively

    Your moment

    One week has passed since Cyclone Idai — according to the UN, one of the worst tropical cyclones to ever affect the Southern Hemisphere — made landfall near Beira, in Mozambique. However, the true extent of the damage and the exact number of people who died in the disaster is yet to be determined.

    Some 1000 people may have perished and more than 2.6 million have been affected, while around 15000 people still need to be rescued.

    The cyclone struck in Mozambique but Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar have been affected as well.

    Images and reportages from these areas can be extremely upsetting and heartbreaking and even inspire a sense of desperation. How can we avoid getting overwhelmed by the news and instead effectively contribute to a solution?

    One way could be donating to effective organizations operating on the ground at the moment. We’ve then collected 5 Kinder-vetted charities you can consider making a contribution to:

    • All donations to this fund of the Global Giving Foundation will support recovery and relief efforts for areas affected by the cyclone. Initially, the fund will help first responders meet immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter. Once this first relief work is completed, the fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted organizations responding to the disaster.

    • World Vision UK staff are on the ground responding across the region to wherever there is an urgent need for food, water, and shelter. More specifically, World Vision is providing maize flour and soya chunks, and tarpaulins and plastic sheeting to the many vulnerable children and their families.

    • UNICEF is on the ground too, assisting those displaced by the flooding providing critical emergency supplies to camps and communities.

    • Welthungerhilfe, a German NGO working in the fields of development cooperation and emergency aid, is at the moment supporting smallholder farmers in the Chikawa district, in Malawi. For medium-term recovery, Welthungerhilfe plans to rehabilitate boreholes that have been destroyed or damaged and to distribute seeds or sweet potato vines for winter cropping, as most of the maize harvest has been destroyed.

    • Oxfam Novib is part of the COSACA consortium, a network of major international organizations that are working in close collaboration with the Mozambican government to bring emergency relief in the country. (In Dutch)

    Can’t decide? Donate through our widget and we’ll divide your contribution equally between all five organizations 👇

    In all of this, let's not forget that disaster relief is crucial but it risks to make us complacent about ongoing, everyday disasters such as poverty and disease.

    As climate change brings harsher and more frequent natural disasters to all corners of the planet, we better be prepared for when they hit, not in desperately saving lives, but containing the damage. Developing countries with poor infrastructure struggle much more than the developed world and they need funding, not only after the disaster strikes, but also before.

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  • Muslim doctors open free clinic for uninsured patients in a Ohio mosque

    Solutions

    In this time of religious tensions, a small piece of good news can go a long way in restoring your faith in humanity. This positive bit, for example, comes all the way from the United States. Northeast Ohio, to be precise.

    👉 In Parma, a small city close to Cleveland, a group of Muslim doctors decided to convert some of the local mosque's spare rooms into a free health clinic where everybody is welcomed, no matter if uninsured or not Muslim.

    As reported by local media outlet News5 Cleveland, The Cleveland Ibn Sina Clinic opened just a few weekends ago but more than 30 patients have already received treatment.

    "We have the ability, we have the potential, we have the resources,” said Dr. Mansoor Ahmed, who is one of the 20 doctors that committed to volunteering their expertise. "Giving a little bit of your time, I think, goes a long way in making a difference in people's lives," he added.

    “A lot of the doctors came here from foreign countries outside the United States looking for better opportunities. Now that they are established, some of them are practicing with hospitals, some of them have their own practice, now they want to come together and give back to the community,” commented Hala Sanyurah, who is the clinic's Communication Director.

    The clinic — that will not just focus on primary health issues but also on more specific diseases like asthma, diabetes, and mental illness  is the first free medical facility in the region.

    Credit header image: Stu Spivack 

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  • Winter was frigid because the polar vortex got ‘drunk'

    Obstacles

    The mere mention of the term “polar vortex” elicits thoughts of bitterly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills. Most people are aware that the frigid air in the Northern Hemisphere is coming directly from the Arctic region, yet they don’t know why polar vortexes happen.

    Not surprisingly, this has led to some rather heated debate. One side of the argument claims that the polar vortex is a result of climate change and human activity. The other side suggests this is a natural phenomenon that proves global warming is false and that humans are not involved in altering our climate.

    The truth is the former is correct. But trying to convince someone to accept this reality might be a difficult challenge. Thankfully, when it comes to the cause of the polar vortex, there is a relatively easy — and for some, relatable — explanation. Quite simply, the polar vortex gets drunk.

    My research expertise is in microbiology, immunology and chemical mechanisms of molecular interaction (think antibiotics).

    As a science communicator, one of my greatest hurdles is defining the intricacies of research into language with which people can understand. This means going deep into the literature and finding the mechanism behind the result. It also means having a deep level of knowledge in a variety of different science branches.

    In some cases, the information can be difficult to convey to a wider audience. But when it comes to the polar vortex, it’s not difficult at all.

    A close examination of the chemistry associated with the onset of these cold snaps reveals a near-perfect resemblance to a chemical shift our bodies encounter during alcohol consumption. The results reveal that both humans and the planet are similarly susceptible to unexpected and unwanted movements.

    Unstable masses

    Most of us can recognize when someone has had too much to drink. Their speech is slurred and they have troubles with their balance. This latter symptom is why the walk-and-turn sobriety test is effective — an inebriated person has trouble moving in a straight line.

    Maintaining posture and balance is a complicated neurological process. Research has revealed that one molecule, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), is necessary for us to achieve this goal. Our brains use this neurotransmitter to help control the signals to our muscles, particularly when we feel the effects of gravity or being pushed by another person.

    When we drink alcohol, GABA helps us preserve our balance and posture. But once we end up losing the necessary levels of GABA needed to keep us upright, we sway, stagger and stumble. Only when we’ve sobered up and increased our GABA levels are we able to regain our balance.

    A similar process occurs in the Arctic.

    Cold sober

    The polar vortex, officially known as the stratospheric polar vortex (SPV), is a stable air mass that tends to stay put when it’s cold sober. In the same way we feel an internal heat during alcohol consumption, the region can warm up with an infiltration of air from the south, better known as a sudden stratospheric warming. When this happens, the steadiness of the vortex is challenged.

    Much like our brains have GABA to maintain stability, the SPV also has a chemical that helps to maintain stability. It’s ozone.

    When levels remain high, the vortex stays in place. But should the levels drop, then the vortex starts to sway, stagger and then stumble southward, a process known as outward eddy transport. Depending on how low the ozone levels drop, the vortex can stretch well into the southern United States and Europe. Eventually, the SPV sobers up, the ozone levels recover, and the air mass stays up north. But this recovery can be slow and leave those affected freezing for weeks instead of days.

    As to what causes the ozone loss, it’s a reaction with a variety of chemicals in the air. Researchers can observe the process in real time and have found that the offenders are not alcoholic in nature but happen to be compounds that contain nitrogen and chlorine. The Earth produces these chemicals in the form of volcanic output and forest fire emissions, and this can lead to a drunk polar region.

    But the frequency of these events has increased from one every few years to one very few months. There must be another perpetrator.

    Thanks to real-time examinations of polar vortex movements over the last 20 years, we can easily finger the culprit: industrial air pollution. These commercial activities produce more than enough of the nitrogen and chlorine chemicals to reduce ozone levels and cause those drunken staggers. The data clearly shows that the blame for the rise in those cold blasts falls squarely on us.

    As this winter’s supply of polar vortex events comes to an end, so should the debate over whether the polar vortex is real — it is — and whether these movements are due to human activity — they are. Until we find ways to reduce our dependence on ozone-removing chemicals, all we can do is hope for the best and brace for the worst.

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. It's written by Jason Tetro, Visiting Scientist at the University of Guelph You can read the original article here

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