September 21, 2019
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    Three more Presidential nominees yesterday (Sept 20) made their cash deposits to contest at the upcoming presidential election on November 16, the Elections Secretariat said. The candidates who made their deposits include Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Prasanna Perera of the Ape Jana Balaya party, and Ven. Aparakke Punyananda Thero as an independent candidate.

    The railway trade unions have called off their ongoing work-to-rule campaign following the discussions held with the authorities.Locomotive Operating Engineers’ Union commenced a work-to-rule trade union action from midnight on Thursday (19) while warning to resort to indefinite strike from this Tuesday (24).

    The US has announced plans to send forces to Saudi Arabia in the wake of attacks against the country's oil infrastructure.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters the deployment would be "defensive in nature". Total troop numbers have not yet been decided.Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attacks against two oil facilities last week.But the US and Saudi Arabia have both blamed Iran itself.What are Trump's options on Iran?Earlier on Friday however, President Trump announced "highest level" sanctions against Iran while signalling he wanted to avoid military conflict."I think the strong person approach, and the thing that does show strength, would be showing a little bit of restraint," he told reporters in the Oval Office.The fresh sanctions will focus on Iran's central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, Mr Trump said.What did the Pentagon say? Mr Esper made the announcement alongside the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Joseph Dunford Jr on Friday. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates requested assistance, Mr Esper said. The forces will focus on boosting air and missile defences, and the US will "accelerate the delivery of military equipment" to both nations.
    Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, left, and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford made the announcement on Friday
    Gen Dunford called the deployment "moderate" and said it would not number in the thousands. He gave no further details about the type of forces to be sent.According to the New York Times, when reporters asked Mr Esper if military strikes on Iran were still being considered, the defence secretary responded: "That's not where we are right now."
    What happened in Saudi Arabia?Strikes hit the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia a week ago, affecting the global oil supply.On Wednesday, the kingdom's defence ministry showed off what it says are the remains of drones and cruises missiles proving Iranian involvement. The country is however still "working to know exactly the launch point", a spokesman said.
    The US also alleges Iran is responsible. Senior officials have told US media outlets they had evidence the attacks originated in the south of Iran.Iran has repeatedly denied any role in the strikes, with President Hassan Rouhani calling the attacks a reciprocal act by the "Yemeni people"."US is in denial if it thinks that Yemeni victims of 4.5 yrs of the worst war crimes wouldn't do all to strike back," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.Who's using armed drones in the Middle East?Why Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter rivals On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had called the strikes "an act of war".Mr Zarif warned on Twitter that Iran had no desire for war but "we will not hesitate to defend ourselves".
    What's the background to all this?The Houthis have repeatedly launched rockets, missiles and drones at populated areas in Saudi Arabia. They are in conflict with a Saudi-led coalition which backs a president who the rebels had forced to flee when the Yemeni conflict escalated in March 2015.Iran is the regional rival of Saudi Arabia and an opponent of the US, which pulled out of a treaty aimed at limiting Tehran's nuclear programme after Mr Trump took power.US-Iran tensions have risen markedly this year.The US said Iran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf in June and July, as well as on another four in May. Tehran rejected the accusations in both cases.
    Why Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter rivals
    Saudi Arabia and Iran are at loggerheads. They have long been rivals, but it's all recently got a lot more tense. Here's why.Saudi Arabia and Iran - two powerful neighbours - are locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance.The decades-old feud between them is exacerbated by religious differences. They each follow one of the two main branches of Islam - Iran is largely Shia Muslim, while Saudi Arabia sees itself as the leading Sunni Muslim wer.This religious schism is reflected in the wider map of the Middle East, where other countries have Shia or Sunni majorities, some of whom look towards Iran or Saudi Arabia for support or guidance.Historically Saudi Arabia, a monarchy and home to the birthplace of Islam, saw itself as the leader of the Muslim world. However this was challenged in 1979 by the Islamic revolution in Iran which created a new type of state in the region - a kind of revolutionary theocracy - that had an explicit goal of exporting this model beyond its own borders.In the past 15 years in particular, the differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been sharpened by a series of events.The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq overthrew Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Arab who had been a major Iranian adversary. This removed a crucial military counter-weight to Iran. It opened the way for a Shia-dominated government in Baghdad and Iranian influence in the country has been rising ever since.
    Fast-forward to 2011 and uprisings across the Arab world caused political instability throughout the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia exploited these upheavals to expand their influence, notably in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, further heightening mutual suspicions.Iran's critics say it is intent on establishing itself or its proxies across the region, and achieving control of a land corridor stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean.How have things got worse?The strategic rivalry is heating up because Iran is in many ways winning the regional struggle.In Syria, Iranian (and Russian) support for President Bashar al-Assad has enabled his forces to largely rout rebel group groups backed by Saudi Arabia.Saudi Arabia is trying desperately to contain rising Iranian influence while the militaristic adventurism of the kingdom's young and impulsive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - the country's de facto ruler - is exacerbating regional tensions.
    Five things about Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanHe is waging a war against the rebel Houthi movement in neighbouring Yemen, in part to stem perceived Iranian influence there, but after four years this is proving a costly gamble.Iran has denied accusations that it is smuggling weaponry to the Houthis, though successive reports from a panel of UN experts have demonstrated significant assistance for the Houthis from Tehran in terms of both technology and weaponry.Meanwhile in Lebanon, Iran's ally, Shia militia group Hezbollah, leads a politically powerful bloc and controls a huge, heavily armed fighting force. Many observers believe the Saudis forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whom it backs, to resign in 2017 over Hezbollah's involvement in regional conflicts. He later returned to Lebanon and put the resignation on hold.
    There are also external forces at play. Saudi Arabia has been emboldened by support from the Trump administration while Israel, which sees Iran as a mortal threat, is in a sense "backing" the Saudi effort to contain Iran.The Jewish state is fearful of the encroachment of pro-Iranian fighters in Syria ever closer to its border.Israel and Saudi Arabia were the two countries most resolutely opposed to the 2015 international agreement limiting Iran's nuclear programme, insisting that it did not go far enough to roll back any chance of Iran obtaining the bomb.
    Who are their regional allies? Broadly speaking the strategic map of the Middle East reflects the Shia-Sunni divide. In the pro-Saudi camp are the other major Sunni actors in the Gulf - the UAE and Bahrain - as well as Egypt and Jordan.In the Iranian camp is Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, a member of a heterodox Shia sect, who has relied on pro-Iranian Shia militia groups, including the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, to fight predominantly Sunni rebel groups.
    Iran and Saudi Arabia: Their friends and foesIraq's Shia-dominated government is also a close ally of Iran, though paradoxically it also retains a close relationship with Washington on whom it has depended for help in the struggle against so-called Islamic State.How is the Saudi-Iranian rivalry being played out?This is in many ways a regional equivalent of the Cold War, which pitted the US against the Soviet Union in a tense military standoff for many years.Iran and Saudi Arabia are not directly fighting but they are engaged in a variety of proxy wars (conflicts where they support rival sides and militias) around the region.Yemen is one of a number of battlegrounds fuelling Iranian-Saudi tensions
    Syria is an obvious example, while in Yemen Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of supplying ballistic missiles fired at Saudi territory by the rebel Houthi movement.Iran is also accused of flexing its muscle in the strategic waterways of the Gulf, through which oil is shipped from Saudi Arabia. The US says Iran was behind recent attacks on foreign tankers there - something it denies.
    Are we heading towards a direct war between Saudi Arabia and Iran?So far Tehran and Riyadh have fought via proxies. Neither is really geared up for a direct war with the other but a major Houthi attack against the Saudi capital or, as in the most recent case, against a key economic target could upset the apple cart.US says data shows Iran behind Saudi oil attacksThe huge US oil stash hidden in underground cavesHouthi attacks against Saudi Arabia's infrastructure have inevitably added a new front to the confrontation between Tehran and Riyadh. As in the Gulf, where Iran and Saudi face each other across a maritime border, rising tensions could risk a much broader conflict.
    For the US and other Western powers, freedom of navigation in the Gulf is essential and any conflict that sought to block the waterway - vital for international shipping and oil transportation - could easily draw in US naval and air forces.For a long time the US and its allies have seen Iran as a destabilising force in the Middle East. The Saudi leadership increasingly sees Iran as an existential threat and the crown prince seems willing to take whatever action he sees necessary, wherever he deems it necessary, to confront Tehran's rising influence.Saudi Arabia's vulnerability has been demonstrated by these latest attacks on its oil installations. If a war breaks out, it will be more perhaps by accident rather than design. But the Saudis' own activism, encouraged in part by a lingering uncertainty as to the Trump administration's own goals in the region, inevitably adds another element of tension.
    Saudi Arabia oil attacks: Trump blames Iran but what are his options?
    Jonathan Marcus
    Diplomatic correspondent
    Saudi Arabia says Iran was behind the attacks on its oil infrastructure As he struggles to define a response to the attacks against key elements of Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, President Donald Trump has insisted that he has many options.He has already chosen to employ one of them, ordering stepped up economic sanctions against Tehran - which denies carrying out the attack - and doubling down on the policy of "maximum pressure" against Iran which the US insists is having a significant impact.The problem is that many critics of the administration believe that it is this very policy, President Trump's decision to abandon the international nuclear agreement with Iran and step up economic pressure, that has brought us to this current point. So what can the Americans do? What really are the options? Is this really America's business? And if so, what is the likelihood of some kind of military response to an attack which the Americans clearly believe came from Iran?First it is important to realise that any action can be immediate or it can play out over time. It can be overt, in the full glare of publicity, or it can be covert, hidden from public view. First though, the US and the Saudis need to make the public case; to establish clearly what happened and to provide corroborating evidence that places responsibility firmly with Tehran. This will provide the public and legal case for any response and it will help to garner wider international support for any steps taken.
    Attack on Saudis destabilises already volatile region This was, after all, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, "an act of war". Despite all the Iranian denials the information released so far shows Iran to be deeply implicated in these attacks. But much more detail is needed, not least an answer to the crucial question: was this attack, as some US officials say, actually launched from Iranian soil? Once the case has been made, what then can President Trump do?
    Economic pressureWhile there are no details as yet, the president's initial response has been to call for more economic sanctions. There is no doubt that the Iranian economy is hurting. That, many analysts say, is why Iran may have decided to strike at Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure now. It is a warning that Washington's economic war against Tehran can be met by an Iranian response against Riyadh. The attacks have demonstrated Saudi Arabia's extraordinary vulnerability, a factor that has to be central when considering any military riposte.
    Saudi's Abqaiq oil facility was struck in the early hours of Saturday morningThe other problem with simply stepping up the "maximum pressure" campaign is that there is not much left for the US to do. The economic pressure gauge is pretty much already at maximum. Over time the impact of this campaign on Iran will get worse. But despite US claims that it is working, few analysts see any sign of Iran moderating its wider behaviour in the region. If anything, pressure is building and Iran's allies and proxies like Hezbollah or pro-Iranian militias in Iraq are only getting stronger.
    A military responseThere was a time when an attack against oil supplies in the Gulf would have been a clear red line for the Americans, prompting a massive and predictable show of force. Oil fundamentally is what gives this region its strategic importance.But things are changing. The US now gets a growing proportion of its oil from its own supplies. It is hard to say if President Trump, for all his rhetoric and flattery of the Saudi royals, really sees these recent attacks as compromising a profound US national interest. He is clearly a president who wants to end US military adventures abroad and not start new ones. And for a variety of reasons, Saudi Arabia is losing more friends than it is winning on Capitol Hill.
    But suppose the US decides that its vital interests are at stake, what then? The military options and potential target lists vary. The real question is: what is the use of force intended to achieve? It could for example be a token strike - like the attack Mr Trump ordered against a Syrian chemical weapons base, which did little to deter the Assad regime and its further use of chemical weapons drew no additional US response.
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on WednesdayAlternatively if a real military effect is intended, then any strike would have to be carefully calibrated - proportional in the sense that it matched the scale of the severity of the attack against Saudi Arabia, but also strong enough to send a clear message of deterrence.The risk of escalationOne man's deterrence though is another man's provocation. Iran shows no signs of being cowed. And there is a real risk that tensions between Iran and the US could descend into outright conflict. So where might such a conflict go and what would it look like?There are many variables to consider and it is easier to say what will not happen. The Trump administration may be an implacable foe of the Iranian regime but there is not going to be a full-scale ground invasion of Iran to topple it. This is not Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Iran is an altogether more complex challenge, both militarily and politically. Some in the White House clearly want regime change. They are likely to be disappointed. So rule out a major land war.The US can deliver punishing strikes against Iran's military infrastructure. But Iran has the means to strike back too. It can use a variety of measures from mines, swarming small boat attacks or submarines to disrupt operations in the confined waters of the Gulf. Oil tankers could be attacked, forcing the Americans to take steps to protect them too.
    Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi says diplomacy can still avert warWhere the US clearly has an extraordinary advantage is in intelligence-gathering and situational awareness. But as the downing of a highly sophisticated American drone in June shows, there are significant US vulnerabilities too. Operating modern warships in the confined waters of the Gulf presents a variety of challenges. All Iran may think it needs to do is to damage or sink a few US vessels to make the price of this conflict one that Mr Trump will not want to pay.Iran, if under sufficient pressure, might also seek to spread the conflict more broadly, urging its proxies in Iraq, Syria or elsewhere to attack US targets. In extremis it might even try to prevail upon Hezbollah (in concert with its own forces in Syria) to launch rocket attacks on Israel. The goal would be to demonstrate to Washington that what Mr Trump might see as a short punitive campaign actually risks setting the region on fire.Covert options
    These range from stepped up cyber-attacks to clandestine efforts to sabotage Iranian military programmes and undermine its allies and proxies across the Middle East. But again, many of these activities have been under way for some time and we are now where we are. Iran has not been deterred, though its technical progress has almost certainly been affected.
    Diplomatic responsesThis may not appear to be President Trump's "go-to" solution, but there could be some benefits in seeking to "internationalise" this crisis. This would require as detailed a presentation of the facts as possible, a kind of "name and shame" effort against Iran to try to increase its isolation.Media captionSaudi's UK ambassador says the oil facility attacks were "a blow for the world"
    The difficulty here is that even the US and its key Western allies remain divided on exactly how to tackle Tehran, even if they have a broadly similar assessment of the "Iranian problem". The Europeans still hope against hope that the nuclear deal with Tehran can be preserved. Many other countries, not least Russia and China, while having no illusions about Iran, tend to see this as just a "Trump problem" and are unlikely to rally to a campaign of diplomatic maximum pressure.Of course there is another diplomatic approach that could be pursued to de-escalate things: they could try talking. Before this episode, there were various suggestions that President Trump might be open to some kind of meeting with the Iranians. That may now be even more unlikely, and it is hard to see what any Iranian leader would stand to gain domestically from such talks.

    Millions of people around the world held a global climate strike on Friday, inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.Protesters across continents waved placards and chanted slogans in what could be the biggest ever demonstration over global warming caused by humans."Our house is on fire", Ms Thunberg said at a rally. "We will not just stand aside and watch."The day began in the Pacific and Asia and culminated in a massive demonstration in New York.It comes ahead of a UN summit next week at the organisation's headquarters in Manhattan. Activists are demanding greater efforts be made at the meeting to tackle climate change.
    Ms Thunberg first started skipping school to protest against inaction on climate change in 2018.Her actions have inspired schoolchildren and adults around the world to take up the fight.What happened on Friday?Pacific island nations like Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu - all threatened by rising sea levels - kicked off the strike. Posts online showed citizens chanting: "We are not sinking, we are fighting."“We are not sinking, we are fighting” #ClimateStrike Kiribati #MatagiMālohi #PacificClimateWarriorsIn Australia, 350,000 people are thought to have joined protests across the country, with some local authorities encouraging school children and workers to take part.The country is already suffering from soaring temperatures, and warming seas have contributed to the death of half the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's north-east coast.
    From there, demonstrations spread to cities in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.Students in Ghana marched in the capital Accra, saying climate change has sped up coastal erosion which is affecting people on the country's coast. About 44% of the population of Ghana have not heard of climate change, one study by Afrobarometer suggests.People in Thailand and India staged "die-ins", falling to the ground and feigning death to demand greater government action.Climate strike march to Ministry of Environment in Bangkok today. Young, passionate, more foreigners than Thais. Kudos to the school children who took part. It’s their future.
    As protests took place in 500 towns and cities across Germany, the country's coalition government announced a €54bn (£48bn; $60bn) package aimed at cutting greenhouse gases.And in the UK, hundreds of thousands are believed to have taken part in cities across all four countries.Further climate strikes are expected next week during the UN summit.What did Greta Thunberg say?The teenage activist was greeted like a rockstar at the rally on Friday, with chants of "Greta! Greta!" resounding around New York's Battery Park."This is the biggest climate strike ever in history, and we all should be so proud of ourselves because we have done this together," the teenager told demonstrators.Ms Thunberg said about four million people took part in the strike around the world, "and we're still counting.""This is an emergency. Our house is on fire. And it's not just the young people's house, we all live here - it affects all of us," she told the crowd.
    The teenager said about 4 million people are thought to have taken part in the march, "and we're still counting"Wherever she has gone in the world, she said, "the empty promises are the same, the lies are the same and the inaction is the same".The eyes of the world will be on leaders at the UN next week, and "they have a chance to take leadership to prove they actually hear us"."This is what people power looks like," she said, before ending the speech with a word for those "who feel threatened by us"."This is only the beginning," she said. "Change is coming whether they like it or not."
    Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg first staged a "School Strike for Climate" outside her national parliament in August last year.Her actions have inspired other schoolchildren and adults around the world, and she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.We can't all be Greta, but your actions have a ripple effectThe 16-year-old travelled to the US by boat in August, refusing to fly or take a cruise ship due to the emissions those modes of transport cause.Ahead of her address to the UN next week, Ms Thunberg told US politicians they must do more to combat climate change."Don't invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it," she said.
    The day millions marched
    Dozens of people demonstrate on the occasion of the global climate strike, in Sao Paulo
    EPACopyright: EPA
    Dozens of people demonstrate on the occasion of the global climate strike, in Sao PauloImage caption: Dozens of people demonstrate on the occasion of the global climate strike, in Sao Paulo
    That wraps up our coverage of the wave of climate protests that began in Australia this morning before spreading across nearly every corner of the globe to the US West Coast.Millions of young people marched on Friday, from handfuls of demonstrators on Pacific islands to mass rallies in cities like Melbourne, Mumbai, Berlin and New York.The Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired the protests, called it the biggest climate strike in history.

     

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    One of them was Michael Pion, who was wearing a Trump 'Make America Great Again' hat. He told the BBC: "I thought it would be funny to see how people would react to the MAGA hat and to be honest with you ultimately it wasn’t that exciting."

    He thinks it's important to pay attention to climate change so "we can avoid the ‘Mad Max’ scenario that will unfold if we don’t take some kind of action about it relatively soon".

    Greta Thunberg continued her speech by talking about the UN climate action summit, which takes place in New York next week. Leaders from around the world will be attending the event."The eyes of the world will be on them," she said. "We will make them hear us.""We are doing this to wake the leaders up. We are doing this to get them to act. We deserve a safe future and we demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?"Right now we are the ones who are making a difference. If no one else will take action then we will."It should not be that way. We should not be the ones who are fighting for the future. And yet, here we are."She finished her speech on a powerful and optimistic note."Together and united we are unstoppable."This is what people power looks like. We will rise to the challenge. We will hold those most responsible for this crisis accountable and we will make the world leaders act."We can and we will."And if you belong to that small group of people who feel threatened by us then we have some very bad news for you."Because this is only the beginning. Change is coming, whether they like it or not."
    Greta Thunberg's speech continues... here are some of the highlights:"We are striking today in over 150 countries on all continents, including Antarctica."We are not in school today and this time we are not alone - we have some adults who are not at work today either. And why? Because this is an emergency. Our house is on fire. And it's not just the young people's house. We all live here, it affects all of us. We will not just stand aside and watch."We are united behind the science and we will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse, even if that means skipping school or work, because this is more important."Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us? That is being stolen for profit?"Some people are saying we should study to become climate scientists and politicians, but by then it will be too late. We need to do this now."Pay attention to the facts."Nowhere have I found anyone in power who wants to tell it like it is. They leave that burden to us - us teenagers, us children."
    Almost everyone who went on stage criticised the president’s environmental policies. Some kids talked about what individuals can do to reduce their footprint on the environment.Vinicius Guimarães, who is 18, held a sign in English saying, "Sorry for our president".He told the BBC he has no links to political parties and that his motivation to show up today was the survival of his generation.“We have to fight now because we’re the ones who will have to deal with the consequences," he said.Here was President Bolsonaro's recent comments on the Amazon fires, which UN officials have described as extremely concerning for the planet’s natural life support She read out the numbers of people at each protest, including:Students in the Global Climate Strike march in New York CityImage caption: Students in the Global Climate Strike march in New York CityYou might be tempted to ask, like the student protesters above, where are the grown-ups in the room? Why haven’t any of our world leaders sorted this out?Well… some of them have been trying, but it hasn’t always gone smoothly.One recent milestone was the 2015 Paris climate deal, which united all the world’s nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change.World leaders clapping after the signing of the Paris climate agreement
    President Donald Trump announced two years later that he would withdraw from the deal - making the US the only country in the world to reject it.Nonetheless, the deal is still considered historic, with signatories committing to keeping temperatures below 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times.You can read more about what it covers here.
    Employees at Amazon headquarters in Seattle are joining today's climate strike, protesting against a crisis they say their employer has contributed to.Ahead of the global protests, the company's CEO – Jeff Bezos – outlined a climate pledge that would see Amazon become carbon neutral by 2040.But the strikers, from the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), say this isn't enough.The group says Mr Bezos' plan to offset Amazon's carbon emissions by 2040 stops far short of its demand that the company stop using fossil fuels entirely within the next decade.Jeff Bezos' pledge to offset carbon emissions by 2040 falls short of his workers' demandsImage caption: Jeff Bezos' pledge to offset carbon emissions by 2040 falls short of his workers' demands AECJ also called for Mr Bezos to stop donating to politicians and lobbying groups that deny the existence or the extent of the climate crisis, and to stop working with oil and gas companies on the exploration of fossil fuel reserves.The Amazon CEO has not agreed to these two demands.Rebecca Sheppard is a senior product manager at Amazon and a member of AECJ.She told BBC Newsday earlier today: "It’s absolutely a victory, but it’s not everything that we asked for. We actually don't want to be carbon neutral, we want to be zero emissions. We don't want to rely on carbon offsets."You can listen to Rebecca's radio interview here.

    Foley Square overflowed, and a number of streets had to be closed due to the sheer number of those marching. There's a range of people, with many school students marching in groups.While there was excitement among those marching, there was also a sense that this collective action must spur some change.For many of the younger activists the stakes are too high to ignore."It’s either we miss school or we miss life," says 17-year-old Phillip Austin.

    In Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, a large number of young kids are expected to attend the climate march starting at 20:00 GMT – and some of them are toddlers.The recent fires in the Amazon have raised environmental awareness in the country, and some parents are concerned about how to explain their concerns to small children without worrying them."They are very young, so we didn’t tell them everything [about the recent climate debates]. But we are taking them to the march," said Mariana Bombonato about her daughter Manuela, two, and the other children at the parental nursery her daughter attends. They will all be at the march later on Friday."We told the children that everyone would wear special T-shirts today to show their concern for the planet, and I bought Manuela a book about planet Earth. We've been talking about ways to protect the environment, and when we shower she says, 'we can’t stay long because the water belongs to the planet.'"Flora Monteiro, another mother from the group, says her son Bento, who turns three in two months' time, hasn’t fully understood the events planned for this Friday, "but he knows it’s a move to take care of the nature and the trees"."More than the environmental cause itself, I’m happy to show him that he can mobilise for whatever he believes in and have an active voice," says Monteiro.
    Roundup: demands for climate justice heard around the worldMillions took to the streets today to demand government action on climate change.
    Thousands have gathered in Foley Square for a march that will end in Battery City Park.The school district has given the city’s 1.1 million school children permission to skip school to take part in the day’s demonstrations.They are here to show solidarity and encourage law makers to take action and hold polluters accountable. Many parents have also accompanied their children to the march.Sanjay Patil, who lives in Queens, brought along some of the day’s youngest protesters: his daughters Anika, six, and Reyha, who is just one.Reyha's shirt - "I really do care. Why don't you?" - was a reference to a coat worn by US First Lady Melania Trump that sent social media into meltdown."We want to show solidarity with all the kids striking," Patil said. He also stressed the importance of bringing his daughters to the rally. "They are going to inherit the mess we created, so they should know that everyone should be a part of the solution."
    What is climate change?
    3 December 2018
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    Related TopicsClimate change

    Media captionMatt McGrath explains why we should care about climate change
    BBC News looks at what we know and don't know about the Earth's changing climate.

    What is climate change?
    The planet's climate has constantly been changing over geological time. The global average temperature today is about 15C, though geological evidence suggests it has been much higher and lower in the past.

    However, the current period of warming is occurring more rapidly than many past events. Scientists are concerned that the natural fluctuation, or variability, is being overtaken by a rapid human-induced warming that has serious implications for the stability of the planet's climate.

    Five things the 1.5C report taught us
    What is the "greenhouse effect"?
    The greenhouse effect refers to the way the Earth's atmosphere traps some of the energy from the Sun. Solar energy radiating back out to space from the Earth's surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases and re-emitted in all directions.

    The energy that radiates back down to the planet heats both the lower atmosphere and the surface. Without this effect, the Earth would be about 30C colder, making our planet hostile to life.

    Scientists believe we are adding to the natural greenhouse effect with gases released from industry and agriculture (known as emissions), trapping more energy and increasing the temperature. This is commonly referred to as global warming or climate change.

    The most important of these greenhouse gases in terms of its contribution to warming is water vapour, but concentrations show little change and it persists in the atmosphere for only a few days.

    Sign up for a weekly chat about climate change on Facebook Messenger

    On the other hand, carbon dioxide (CO2) persists for much longer (it would take hundreds of years for it to return to pre-industrial levels). In addition, there is only so much CO2 that can be soaked up by natural reservoirs such as the oceans.

    Most man-made emissions of CO2 are through the burning of fossil fuels, as well as through cutting down carbon-absorbing forests. Other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide are also released through human activities, but their overall abundance is small compared with carbon dioxide.

    Since the industrial revolution began in 1750, CO2 levels have risen by more than 30% and methane levels have risen more than 140%. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years.I
    Temperature records going back to the late 19th Century show that the average temperature of the Earth's surface has increased by about 0.8C (1.4F) in the last 100 years. About 0.6C (1.0F) of this warming occurred in the last three decades.

    Satellite data shows an average increase in global sea levels of some 3mm per year in recent decades. A large proportion of the change in sea level is accounted for by the thermal expansion of seawater. As seawater warms up, the molecules become less densely packed, causing an increase in the volume of the ocean.

    But the melting of mountain glaciers and the retreat of polar ice sheets are also important contributors. Most glaciers in temperate regions of the world and along the Antarctic Peninsula are in retreat. Since 1979, satellite records show a dramatic decline in Arctic sea-ice extent, at an annual rate of 4% per decade. In 2012, the ice extent reached a record minimum that was 50% lower than the 1979-2000 average.

    The Greenland Ice Sheet has experienced record melting in recent years; if the entire 2.8 million cu km sheet were to melt, it would raise sea levels by 6m.

    Satellite data shows the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also losing mass, and a recent study indicated that East Antarctica, which had displayed no clear warming or cooling trend, may also have started to lose mass in the last few years. But scientists are not expecting dramatic changes. In some places, mass may actually increase as warming temperatures drive the production of more snows.

    The effects of a changing climate can also be seen in vegetation and land animals. These include earlier flowering and fruiting times for plants and changes in the territories (or ranges) occupied by animals.In its 2013 assessment of the science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast a range of possible scenarios based on computer modelling. But most simulations indicate that global surface temperature change by the end of the 21st Century is likely to exceed 1.5C, relative to 1850.A threshold of 2C had long been regarded as the gateway to dangerous warming. More recently, scientists and policy makers have argued that keeping temperature rise to within 1.5C is a safer limit for the world.
    An IPCC report in 2018 suggested that keeping to the 1.5C target would require "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society".

    Even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically now, scientists say the effects will continue because parts of the climate system, particularly large bodies of water and ice, can take hundreds of years to respond to changes in temperature. It also takes greenhouse gases decades to be removed from the atmosphere.

     

    Media captionClimate change: How 1.5C could change the world
    How will climate change affect us?
    There are varying degrees of uncertainty about the scale of potential impacts. But the changes could drive freshwater shortages, bring sweeping changes in food production conditions, and increase the number of deaths from floods, storms, heat waves and droughts.

    This is because climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events - though linking any single event to global warming is complicated.

    Scientists forecast more rainfall overall, but say the risk of drought in inland areas during hot summers will increase. More flooding is expected from storms and rising sea levels. There are, however, likely to be very strong regional variations in these patterns.

    Poorer countries, which are least equipped to deal with rapid change, could suffer the most.

    Vietnam's children and the fear of climate change
    Would you give up beef to help the planet?
    Plant and animal extinctions are predicted as habitats change faster than species can adapt, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the health of millions could be threatened by increases in malaria, water-borne disease and malnutrition.

     

    Media captionHow temperatures have risen since 1884
    As an increased amount of CO2 is released into the atmosphere, there is increased uptake of CO2 by the oceans, and this leads to them becoming more acidic. This ongoing process of acidification could pose major problems for the world's coral reefs, as the changes in chemistry prevent corals from forming a calcified skeleton, which is essential for their survival.

    Computer models are used to study the dynamics of the Earth's climate and make projections about future temperature change. But these climate models differ on "climate sensitivity" - the amount of warming or cooling that occurs as a particular factor, such as CO2. goes up or down.

    Models also differ in the way that they express "climate feedbacks".

    Global warming will cause some changes that look likely to create further heating, such as the release of large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane as permafrost (permanently frozen soil found mainly in the Arctic) melts. This is known as a positive climate feedback.

    But negative feedbacks exist that could offset warming. Various "reservoirs" on Earth absorb CO2 as part of the carbon cycle - the process through which carbon is exchanged between, for example, the oceans and the land.

    The question is: how will these balance out?

     

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