Step 2 Part 2 - All character cards

Different perspectives of the people involved in climate change

ANNEX 1: Character cards

Blythe Pepino

This activist and musician (former singer of Vaults, now Mesadorm) is a member of the BirthStrike movement. In response to the coming climate breakdown and civilisation collapse, members of the movement have decided not to have children because they don't want to bring them up on this planet.

She fears that we, as a society, are not preparing for what is going to happen (loss of land, floods, food shortages, economic collapse). She wants to use her decision to catalyse change, and to force authorities to take action against climate change.

Margaret Thatcher

This former United Kingdom prime minister was already conscious of the reality and global threat of climate change in 1989. With her speech to the UN in November 1989, Thatcher became the first prominent political leader to warn the world about the danger of climate change, and to outline a strategy for dealing with it. She brought up the threat from greenhouse gases and the “large hole” in the ozone layer. Some say that in the last 60 years, she has done more than anyone else to put environmental issues on the national and international agenda.

Wangari Maathai

Professor Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) was a renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist. She was the first African woman to win a Nobel Prize. 

In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement: an environmental NGO focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation and women's rights. The movement responded to the needs of rural Kenyan women who reported that their streams were drying up, their food supply was less secure, and they had to walk further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing. GBM encouraged women to work together to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, provide food and firewood, and to secure a small financial compensation for their work.

Sebastião and Lélia Salgado

Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia have planted 2 million trees in 20 years to restore a destroyed forest in Brazil, stimulating a revival in bio-diversity of insects, birds and fish.

In the 1990s, only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees. Sebastião and Lélia founded Instituto Terra, a small organisation that has since planted 4 million saplings and has brought the forest back to life. “Perhaps we have a solution.” Sebastião said. “There is a single being which can transform CO2 into oxygen, which is the tree. We need to start tree planting on a massive scale. You need a forest with native trees, and you need to gather the seeds in the same region you plant them, or the serpents, and the termites won’t come. And if you plant forests that don’t belong there, the animal population won’t grow, and the forest will be silent.”

Wibjörn Karlén

Karlén is a retired professor of the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology from Stockholm University and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 2010, he predicted that natural climate changes, caused to a large degree by the sun's activity, would more likely make the climate colder than warmer in the next decades. 

He is part of the climate realists non-profit association that promotes a rational climate and energy policy. This group supports the claim that the scientific basis for climate policy is insufficient to justify the disruptive transformation of society that is now underway. Misguided measures without a secure scientific basis have negative consequences for the environment and the economy and do not have the intended effect.

“Newspapers should think about the damage they are doing to many persons, particularly young kids, by spreading the exaggerated views of a human impact on climate. As far as I can see, the IPCC 'Global Temperature' is wrong. Temperature is fluctuating but it is still cooler than in the 1930s and 1940s. It will take about 800 years before the water level has increased by one meter.”

Greta Thunberg

Thunberg is a 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist whose campaigning has received international recognition. She has given speeches at many institutions such as the UN Climate Change Conference, she spoke for the Pope, and she inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what became the largest climate demonstration in human history. Her aim is to urge immediate action to address the climate crisis. 

She convinced her parents to adopt lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint. In 2018, she started spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on climate change with a sign reading Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for the climate). Soon, other students engaged in similar protests and they organised a school climate strike movement, Fridays for Future. “We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow. That is all we are saying,” said Greta in 2019. A sailboat took her from the United States to Portugal to take part in Madrid’s Climate Summit without flying, in order not to increase her carbon footprint.

Jason Warner

Warner is the Zone President for Europe at AB InBev beers, a Belgian multinational drink and brewing company that includes Budweiser. InBev is an example of a private company that makes an attempt to fight against climate change. Part of the company's 2025 sustainability goals is to purchase 100% renewable electricity for its operations. They are developing a solar farm in Spain that will provide 250 gigawatt hours or per year in 2020, in order to brew their beers across Western Europe with renewable electricity (the equivalent of nearly 670,000 homes).

Jason Warner said that “as a brewer, we rely on natural ingredients to make our beers, so we know that sustainability is our business. From recycling CO2 released in the brewing process to eliminating plastic from our packaging, we are constantly looking to have a net positive environmental effect.”

Boyan Slat

This 25-year-old Dutch entrepreneur has the ambitious goal of helping to eliminate millions of tons of plastic from our oceans. He wants to build a fixed barrier in the oceans which would allow the currents to pass, but which would capture plastic waste at the same time. The plastic concentrates in the center and can later be collected for recycling. 

At 21, Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup Project. After a  crowdfunding campaign with which he raised over 2 million dollars, his team built the first prototype in real scale. By deploying a fleet of systems, The Ocean Cleanup estimates to be able to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years. The concentrated plastic will be brought back to shore for recycling and sold to B2C companies. The revenue gained will help fund the cleanup’s expansion to the other four ocean gyres.

Blanca Bernal 

This Spanish scientist is a biogeochemistry analyst for ecosystem services and natural resources. She works at Winrock International where she applies scientific concepts and advances to practical strategies for sustainable development around the world in order to mitigate climate change.

In the winter of 2019-2020, she took part in a network of 100 international female scientists called the Homeward Bound Antarctic Program. Their objective was to fight climate change and to claim a role for women in science against gender inequality. 

Blanca believes in the ability of communities to change society, and she hopes that Homeward Bound will inspire present and future generations to promote a more just, conscious, and sustainable world.

She is also one of the promoters of Ellas Lideran - a Spanish initiative committed to the empowerment and leadership of women to achieve a sustainable future.

Werner Baumann

In 2018, Baumann, CEO of German company Bayer, lead the acquisition of Monsanto - an American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. Monsanto is the major producer of genetically engineered crops and one of the largest US corporations by revenues. The soybean, a key ingredient for feeding the world’s cattle, pigs, chickens and fish, is modified to make it more resistant to insects and pests, and also more resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.

In 2019, the European Court of Justice dismissed an action brought by three German NGO’s against the authorisation of genetically modified soy products. The NGO’s argued that more research was necessary to determine the product's risks. In agreement with the NGO’s, many environmental scientists say that it is possibly dangerous for people’s health, for example by triggering allergic reactions (as they may contain genes from an allergen that it is not well studied), contributing to the development of cancer (as it can be dangerous to introduce new genes into the body) or that these crops could affect the ability of people to defend against illness by becoming resistant to antibiotics.

The resolution allowed Monsanto to continue selling genetically modified soybeans developed in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).

The company argues that they provide solutions for a growing population. In its opinion, farms can slow the effects of climate change, as their crops require less water. These farms are more sustainable, with plants that are more adaptive and resilient and agriculture increases economic prosperity for all families and their communities.

Li Yongan

Li Yongan, general manager of the Three Gorges Corporation, claims that the Three Gorges Dam is “the grandest project the Chinese people have undertaken in thousands of years.” At its peak, the construction team consisted of some 26,000 Chinese and foreign employees. The project is a symbol of China’s economic and technological progress, and generates renewable energy with a capacity of 22.5 gigawatts. The project, proposed by President Sun Yat in 1918, was in controversy during decades due to its social and environmental impact.  

The dam has brought a positive impact to the area and the whole country. The hydropower station generates 100 billion kilowatt hours, annually powering almost one third of China’s provinces. This reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide by 100 million tons, and substitutes the burning of more than 30 million tons of coal every year. At the same time, it has greatly improved navigation on the Yangtze River. The supporters also claim that the project has made devastating floods in the Yangtze Valley a thing of the past, and that it supplies water in the south during dry season, improving the quality of life of the resettled population. According to former President Jiang Zemin, the dam “embodies the great industrious spirit of the Chinese nation.”

However, on the other hand, the 600 km long reservoir displaced 1.3 million people when it began to store water in the 129 cities and towns, which are now under water. The environmental impact is also very high. Construction pollutants, pollutants from industry and agriculture, wildlife damage, alteration of the river’s chemical balance are all creating unusual weather conditions in the area. The Three Gorges Project has also created serious seismic and safety risks, and due to that, an additional 530,000 people had to be relocated by 2020.

Skeena Rathor

Skeena Rathor co-leads the XR (Extinction Rebellion). She is the national spokesperson for XR, and she has appeared widely on TV and radio. Skeena, a mother of three, says that she is prepared to go to jail for her beliefs.

Extinction Rebellion is a global activist movement that seeks to push changes in climate policy. Founded in 2018, its first major demonstrations took place in Britain in November 2018, when hundreds of activists shut down bridges in central London to spread its core message that climate change is not only threatening ecological collapse but human extinction. Since then, it has achieved remarkable success, and its demonstrators have staged spectacular acts of civil disobedience as part of their effort to persuade politicians to take action to reduce climate change. In Germany alone, there are 120 local XR groups with a total of about 20,000 members. It has now grown into an international movement with chapters all over the world, including the United States

The group regularly causes civic disruption: members have thrown fake blood on pavements, vandalised buildings such as those owned by Shell Oil Co., they super-glued their bottoms to a window facing lawmakers in the House of Commons, blocked traffic and  bridges across London, and occupied prominent sites in central London and the Parliament. Members of XR have said that “the situation is extreme, and we need to match that with extreme tactics. We actually don't think we are extreme enough.” Arrests are not an inconvenience for XR activists - they are part of the plan.

Not everyone regards the movement this way. Scotland Yard claimed that the protests are taking up more police resources than terrorism. In October 2019, during a coordinated series of demonstration in 60 cities around the globe, 1,832 people were arrested in London, and £21 million was spent on policing the protests, which caused widespread disruption and delays as streets were crowded and public transport was brought to a halt.

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