Largest survey on climate change reveals most people want action

A herd of caribou on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP/File)
A herd of caribou on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP/File)
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Updated 28 January 2021

Largest survey on climate change reveals most people want action

Largest survey on climate change reveals most people want action
  • UN Development Program poll canvassed the opinions of 1.2 million people in 50 countries
  • ‘The survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate,’ said program chief

NEW YORK: The world’s largest survey of opinions on climate change, which sought the views of 1.2 million people in 50 countries, found that the majority believe it is a global emergency that requires urgent action.
The poll, dubbed the “People’s Climate Vote,” was carried out by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with the University of Oxford. It sought the views of people of all ages and education levels in countries that together account for about half of the world’s population.
It revealed that most people support the introduction of more comprehensive policies to tackle the problems and challenges arising from climate change.
“From climate-friendly farming to protecting nature and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate,” said UNDP administrator Achim Steiner when the results of the poll were revealed on Wednesday.
“It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge.”
This year is shaping up to be a pivotal one for international climate-action commitments, with a key round of negotiations due to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November during COP26, the UN Climate Change Summit. The meeting will be the 26th session of Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the entity tasked with supporting the global response to climate change. It will focus on ways to intensify efforts to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The opinions canvassed by the UNDP survey included those of more half a million people between the ages of 14 and 18, many of whom are not yet allowed to vote but who represent an important group in climate-change campaigning. They were asked to weigh in on 18 key climate policies across a number of action areas including the economy, energy, transport, food and farms, nature, and protecting people.
Polling experts from the University of Oxford used innovative methods to engage with young people, who can be hard to reach, for example by distributing the survey on mobile-gaming networks. The sampling was structured to be representative of ages, gender balance and levels of education in populations, which significantly reduced margins of error.
While younger people were more likely to consider climate change an emergency — 65 per cent of those in the 18-35 age group, and 66 per cent in the 36-59 age group — their elders were not far behind, with 58 per cent of over-60s feeling the same way. UNDP said that this illustrates “how widely held this view has become.”
Cassie Flynn, strategic advisor on climate change at UNDP said: “This is the good news: news of solidarity in the world when it comes to tackling the climate crisis.”
The survey found substantial levels of support for the adoption of a variety of wide-ranging climate policies beyond current measures, including radical long-term solutions.
The single most popular policy was conservation of forests and land (which was supported by 54 percent of those surveyed), followed by a transition to greater use of solar, wind and other forms of renewable power (53 percent), the adoption of climate-friendly farming techniques (52 percent), and increased investment in green businesses and jobs (50 percent).
“What’s interesting is that respondents (really) don’t see one silver bullet solving the climate crisis,” said Flynn. “There is this wide variety of options that people gravitated toward.”
In countries where the energy sector is responsible for the highest levels of emissions, the majority of respondents were in favor of greater use of renewable energy. In countries where more emissions result from changes of land use, the majority backed enhanced conservation efforts. Residents of large cities advocated efforts to encourage greater use of cleaner electric cars and buses, or bicycles.
“People (are) looking around, absorbing the instability of the world when it comes to climate and COVID and thinking about how we get ourselves onto a new pathway,” said Flynn.
The survey found that levels of education also played a part in fostering a desire for climate action, the UNDP said. Recognition of a climate emergency was highest among people who had attended college or university, regardless of the economic status of their countries.
The UNDP said it will share the detailed results of the poll, broken down by age, gender and education level, with governments around the world.
 


Search for Gabby Petito’s fiance in Florida wilderness enters sixth day

Search for Gabby Petito’s fiance in Florida wilderness enters sixth day
Updated 13 sec ago

Search for Gabby Petito’s fiance in Florida wilderness enters sixth day

Search for Gabby Petito’s fiance in Florida wilderness enters sixth day
  • Mystery deepens around a case that has engrossed Americans
  • Many Americans have closely followed the case since Petito as reported missing on September 11
The exhaustive search for slain travel blogger Gabby Petito’s fiancé in a vast Florida wilderness entered a sixth day on Thursday as the mystery deepened around a case that has engrossed Americans.
A team of divers joined police and FBI agents using boats and helicopters looking for Brian Laundrie, 23, in the alligator-infested Carlton Reserve on Wednesday, but a spokesman said at nightfall that they had found “nothing” to show for their efforts.
Authorities have not said why they are convinced Laundrie, whom police call a “person of interest” in the case, may still be somewhere inside the more than 9,700-hectare wilderness preserve near his home in North Port, Florida, more than a week after he told family members he was headed there to hike alone.
North Port police say Laundrie’s parents did not report him missing until Sept. 14, three days after the family last saw him. The Carlton Reserve has more than 128 km of hiking trails but is dominated by swampy water.
Many Americans have closely followed the case since Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept. 11. Ten days earlier, Laundrie had returned home to North Port without her from a cross-country road trip the couple chronicled in social media posts.
Petito’s body was discovered on Sunday in a remote corner of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming, less than 300m from where, on the evening of Aug. 27, another pair of travel bloggers caught video images of the couple’s white Ford Transit parked on a dirt road.
In identifying her remains, Teton County medical examiners ruled Petito’s death a homicide, but did not make the cause of her death public.
Petito and Laundrie left her home state of New York in July, heading west on what they called a “van life” trip. They posted photos to social media as they traveled through Kansas, Colorado and Utah.
Witnesses last saw Petito on Aug. 24 as she left a Salt Lake City hotel. She posted her final photo the next day.
Petito’s family believes she was headed to Grand Teton National Park when they last heard from her. Her body was found at the edge of that park near the Spread River.
Investigators searched the Laundrie family home in North Port last week and were seen loading cardboard boxes into a van and towing away a silver Ford Mustang.
In seeking search warrants, investigators cited text messages from Petito’s phone to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, that struck Schmidt as suspicious.
The final text from Petito’s phone came on Aug. 30 and read only: “No service in Yosemite,” a national park in California that she and Laundrie are not believed to have visited during their trip.
On Aug. 12, a 911 caller reported to emergency dispatchers that Laundrie was slapping and hitting Petito in front of the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, Utah.
Moab police pulled the couple over in their van on a highway near Arches National Park. Body camera footage of that encounter shows Petito sobbing as she describes a fight between the couple that she said escalated into her slapping Laundrie as he drove the van.
The officers did not detain Petito or Laundrie but told them to spend the night apart.

Ukraine tightens coronavirus lockdown curbs

Ukraine tightens coronavirus lockdown curbs
Updated 36 min 48 sec ago

Ukraine tightens coronavirus lockdown curbs

Ukraine tightens coronavirus lockdown curbs
  • Ukraine imposed a nationwide “yellow” code after cases dropped over the summer

KYIV: Ukraine tightened coronavirus lockdown curbs on Thursday, restricting large events and occupancy at gyms, cinemas and cultural sites, after a recent steady increase in new infections.
Ukraine imposed a nationwide “yellow” code after cases dropped over the summer, allowing it to lift lockdown restrictions.
This week, however, the government extended a state of emergency that allows authorities to impose curbs until year-end to rein in infections.
The health ministry has said it plans compulsory coronavirus vaccinations for those in occupations such as teaching and employment in state institutions and local governments.
Ukraine’s pandemic tally of infections stands at 2.4 million, with 55,284 deaths.


Melbourne anti-lockdown protests fizzle out as daily COVID-19 cases hit pandemic high

Melbourne anti-lockdown protests fizzle out as daily COVID-19 cases hit pandemic high
Updated 54 min 25 sec ago

Melbourne anti-lockdown protests fizzle out as daily COVID-19 cases hit pandemic high

Melbourne anti-lockdown protests fizzle out as daily COVID-19 cases hit pandemic high
  • Police and union officials have said extremist and far-right groups joined the demonstrations
  • Australia’s total infections topped 92,000, with some 61,000 recorded since mid-June when the first Delta case was detected

SYDNEY: Melbourne’s streets were largely quiet on Thursday after three days of anti-lockdown protests, with hundreds of police officers on patrol in the city to prevent another rally as COVID-19 cases in Victoria hit a daily pandemic record.
Police in central Melbourne were checking people’s reasons for being outside, footage on social media showed, after a violent protest on Wednesday in Australia’s second-largest city resulted in more than 200 arrests.
A vaccination center at the Melbourne Town Hall would be shut until Monday after several of its staff were physically and verbally abused on their way to work, operator cohealth said on Thursday.
“Why would you abuse, as I’m told, why would you spit on people who are doing that sort of work?,” Premier Daniel Andrews said in a media briefing in Melbourne, the state capital. “That is ugly, that is uncalled for.”
Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the city of 5 million since officials earlier this week ordered a two-week closure of building sites and made vaccines mandatory for construction workers to limit the spread of the virus.
Police and union officials have said extremist and far-right groups joined the demonstrations.
Victoria on Thursday reported 766 new locally acquired cases, topping its previous pandemic daily high of 725 hit on Aug. 5, 2020, and four new deaths. Neighbouring New South Wales reported 1,063 new infections, up from 1,035 a day earlier, and six new deaths.
Australia is fighting a third wave of infections from an outbreak of the Delta variant in its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and its capital Canberra, forcing nearly half the country’s 25 million people into strict stay-at-home restrictions.
Officials have promised to ease lockdown rules once 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, which is expected next month. Some 55.5 percent of people aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated in New South Wales and about 45 percent in Victoria.
Dual-dose vaccinations in New South Wales are rising by around 1 percent a day, state Health Minister Brad Hazzard said, putting it on track to hit 70 percent by around Oct. 8. Officials have pledged to ease lockdown curbs on the Monday after that target has reached.
Australia’s total infections topped 92,000, with some 61,000 recorded since mid-June when the first Delta case was detected in Sydney. Total deaths are just below 1,200, but still lower than in many other comparable countries.


Under Taliban, thriving Afghan music scene heads to silence

Under Taliban, thriving Afghan music scene heads to silence
Updated 23 September 2021

Under Taliban, thriving Afghan music scene heads to silence

Under Taliban, thriving Afghan music scene heads to silence
  • Families where music is a profession passed through generations are looking for ways to leave the country

KABUL, Afghanistan: A month after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, the music is going quiet.
The last time the militant group ruled the country, in the late 1990s, it outright banned music. So far this time, the government set up by the Taliban hasn’t taken that step officially. But already, musicians are afraid a ban will come, and some Taliban fighters on the ground have started enforcing rules on their own, harassing musicians and music venues.
Many wedding halls are limiting music at their gatherings. Musicians are afraid to perform. At least one reported that Taliban fighters at one of the many checkpoints around the capital smashed his instrument. Drivers silence their radios whenever they see a Taliban checkpoint.
In the alleys of Kharabat, a neighborhood in Kabul’s Old City, families where music is a profession passed through generations are looking for ways to leave the country. The profession was already hit hard by Afghanistan’s foundering economy, along with the coronavirus pandemic, and some families now too fearful to work are selling off furniture to get by.
“The current situation is oppressive,” said Muzafar Bakhsh, a 21-year-old who played in a wedding band. His family had just sold off part of its belongings at Kabul’s new flea market, Chaman-e-Hozari. “We keep selling them … so we don’t die of starvation,” said Bakhsh, whose late grandfather was Ustad Rahim Bakhsh, a famous ustad — or maestro — of Afghan classical music.
Afghanistan has a strong musical tradition, influenced by Iranian and Indian classical music. It also has a thriving pop music scene, adding electronic instruments and dance beats to more traditional rhythms. Both have flourished in the past 20 years.
Asked whether the Taliban government will ban music again, spokesman Bilal Karimi told The Associated Press, “Right now, it is under review and when a final decision is made, the Islamic Emirate will announce it.”
But music venues are already feeling the pressure since the Taliban swept into Kabul on Aug. 15.
Wedding halls are usually scene to large gatherings with music and dancing, most often segregated between men’s and women’s sections. At three halls visited by the AP, staff said the same thing. Taliban fighters often show up, and although so far they haven’t objected to music, their presence is intimidating. Musicians refuse to show up. In the male sections of weddings, the halls no longer have live music or DJs. In the women’s section — where the Taliban fighters have less access — female DJs sometimes still play.
Some karaoke parlors have closed. Others still open face harassment. One parlor visited by the AP stopped karaoke but stayed open, serving waterpipes and playing recorded music. Last week, Taliban fighters showed up, broke an accordion and tore down signs and stickers referring to music or karaoke. A few days later, they returned and told the customers to leave immediately.
Many musicians are applying for visas abroad.
In the family home of another ustad in Kharabat, everyone’s go-bag is packed, ready to leave when they can. In one room, a group of musicians was gathered on a recent day, drinking tea and discussing the situation. They shared photos and videos from their performances around the world — Moscow, Baku, New Delhi, Dubai, New York.
“Musicians do not belong here anymore. We must leave. The love and affection of the last years are gone,” said a drum player, whose career has spanned 35 years and who is the master of a leading music education center in Kabul. Like many other musicians, he spoke on condition he not be named, fearing reprisals from the Taliban.
Another musician in the room said the Taliban broke a keyboard worth $3,000 when they saw it in his car as he crossed through a checkpoint. Others said they were shipping their most valuable instruments outside the country or hiding them. One had dismantled his tabla — a type of drum — and hidden the parts in different locations. Another buried his rebab, a stringed instrument, in his courtyard. Some said they hid instruments behind false walls.
One who managed to leave already is Aryana Sayeed, a top female pop star who was also a judge on the TV talent show, “The Voice of Afghanistan.” Already used to death threats by Islamic hard-liners, Sayeed decided to escape the day the Taliban took over Kabul.
“I had to survive and be the voice for other women in Afghanistan,” said Sayeed, now in Istanbul. She said she was asking Turkish authorities to help other musicians get out of her homeland. “The Taliban are not friends of Afghanistan, they are our enemies. Only enemies would want to destroy your history and your music,” she said.
At the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, most of the classrooms are empty. None of the teachers nor the 350 students have come back since the takeover. The institute was once famous for its inclusiveness and emerged as the face of a new Afghanistan. Now, it is guarded by fighters from the Haqqani network, an ally of the Taliban considered a terrorist group by the United States.
Inside the institute, pictures of boys and girls playing hang from the walls, dusty pianos rest inside locked rooms, and some instruments have been stacked in a container on the school’s patio. The fighters guarding the site said they were waiting for orders from the leadership on what to do with them.
“We’re not interested in listening to these things,” one fighter said, standing next to a set of dhambouras, a traditional string instrument. “I don’t even know what these items are. Personally, I’ve never listened to them and I’m not interested.”
In a classroom at the end of the corridor, a Taliban fighter rested on a mattress listening to a male voice chanting on his cell phone, apparently one of the instrument-less religious anthems common among the group.
Back in Kharabat, Mohammed Ibrahim Afzali once ran the family business repairing musical instruments. In mid-August, he put away his tools, broke the instruments left in the workshop and closed down. Now the 61-year-old sells chips and snacks to help feed his family of 13.
“I made this tiny shop. God is merciful, and we will find a piece of bread,” he said.


New Zealand’s PM hopes to avoid future coronavirus lockdowns

New Zealand’s PM hopes to avoid future coronavirus lockdowns
Updated 23 September 2021

New Zealand’s PM hopes to avoid future coronavirus lockdowns

New Zealand’s PM hopes to avoid future coronavirus lockdowns
  • New Zealand has taken an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she doesn’t want to use lockdowns in the future and sees vaccinations as the “golden ticket” to navigating the pandemic.
Her remarks came as Auckland remained in a sixth week of lockdown following an outbreak of the coronavirus’ delta variant.
New Zealand has taken an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the virus and is trying to completely eliminate the outbreak in its largest city through drastic measures, at least until vaccination rates improve. Fifteen more local transmissions were reported Thursday.
Ardern says she sees a hopeful path in using vaccinations coupled with public health measures to prevent widespread hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. About 62 percent of New Zealanders have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.