In an exclusive interview with The New York Times, Kathryn Murdoch went public in discussing her thirteen years of behind-the-scenes climate activism, contradicting the stance of the conservative empire she had married into.
“There hasn’t been a Republican answer on climate change,” Ms. Murdoch said. “There’s just been denial and walking away from the problems. There needs to be [an answer].”
Ms. Murdoch is the daughter-in-law of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. Fox did not issue a response after requested.
Similarly to her husband, James Murdoch, Ms. Murdoch has begun distancing herself from the conservative news outlet. In a recent New Yorker article, he said there were some “views I really disagree with” on the major news network.
This was the first time Ms. Murdoch discussed her work in climate advocacy, spanning over a decade.
“I’m very comfortable staying in the background and continuing to work quietly,” she said to The Times. “[But] I’ve decided doing that means I’m not working hard enough, I’m not doing everything in my power to do.”
Ms. Murdoch says she was inspired after listening to Al Gore’s 2006 talk at the Fox retreat, where the former Vice President—who created the Inconvenient Truth, a documentary on global warming—emphasized the urgency of climate change.
“I decided to switch everything I was doing,” she said. “I wanted to be able to look my children in the eye and say, ‘I did everything I could.’”
As a self-defined “radical centrist,” Ms. Murdoch has taken major steps to bridge the partisan divide and raise money for Unite America, a nonpartisan organization dedicated towards “working to bridge the growing partisan divide and foster a more representative and functional government.” Murdoch said the her and her husband are “anchor funders” for the organization. Although she wouldn’t disclose the exact amount of money they were donating, she said they planned on investing “nine figures” for the group’s efforts.
“I’m not saying I have all the answers—I don’t,” she said. “But what I know and what I feel very strongly is that sitting around not doing anything is the wrong answer.”
Although Ms. Murdoch’s contributions to Unite America initially drew some skepticism given the notoriety of her last name. However, the founder of the organization, Charles Wheelan emphasized that she was “an important ambassador” in communicating to the affluent as a friend within that community that climate change was a serious issue that would soon become the burden of their children if action wasn’t taken.
In 2008, Ms. Murdoch’s work with climate advocacy began in the then newly created Clinton Climate Initiative. Later on, she obtained a spot on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund, and then created Quadrivium with her husband in 2014 to invest in issues dealing with “democracy, technology and society, scientific understanding, climate change, and ocean health.”
In openly announcing her commitment towards fighting climate change, Ms. Murdoch largely distinguished herself from the brand associated with her surname. Although such an action might seem inconsequential, there’s hope Ms. Murdoch’s public devotion towards tackling the climate crisis will influence more prominent figures to take further action as well.
Emily is a Writer at The Rising, a Copywriter for Medius Ventures, a Business student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a former writer for the Daily Illini. For any inquiries or story pitches, reach out to email@example.com.
The World’s Biggest Brands Commit To Tackling Plastic Pollution, But What Else Can Be Done?
After World War II, the world experienced a plastics boom, with production growing at an exponential rate thanks to the material’s versatility and durability. Plastic touches nearly every aspect of our lives, from the materials used to construct buildings and homes, vehicles, and technology, to household products, clothing, and shoes. It is estimated that we have produced more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic since this time, of which less than 10% is recycled. That’s where the plastic pollution problem comes in.
Many countries in the Global North turned to China to recycle their plastics, but ever since China changed its policy, the United States and many other countries are forced to find other avenues for taking care of their plastic waste and address the plastic pollution crisis back home.
Who is responsible for the crisis and what is being done?
Plastic pollution activists and coalitions have emphasized the responsibility that the world’s largest brands play in addressing this global crisis. Civil society members from more than 80 countries hosted brand audits through clean-ups during the #BrandAudit2019 initiative, calling on these brands to change their practices of manufacturing and selling products in single-use plastic packaging.
Some big brands have taken responsibility for their role in plastic pollution and have taken action. Coca-Cola announced its World Without Waste initiative with the goals to achieve 100% recycled packaging using 50% recycled materials, and by 2030 collect and recycle one bottle or can for every item sold. Unilever made a similar announcement, promising to cut its use of virgin plastics by 50%, and collecting and processing its plastic packaging.
One social enterprise is making it a little bit easier for big brands to shift their single-use plastic packaging practices. TerraCycle recently launched the Loop Store, a global circular shopping platform that allows customers to purchase products in zero waste packaging. Following the “milkman model”, products sold through the Loop Store are stored in reusable containers that are collected, washed, and reused again.
Innovations in tackling plastic pollution
Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup, an ambitious project that aimed to collect the massive volume of plastic found in the oceans globally. At 2,000 feet in length, this plastic collection device has successfully collected plastic since its initial trials. Other entrepreneurs are developing products made from plant-based materials, such as utensils made from avocado seeds and creating faux leather using nopal, or producing products that do not require plastic packaging, in efforts to reduce our reliance on products made with plastic.
Consumers, recognizing the power they hold by their purchasing behaviors, are also raising their concerns with companies to change their practices. In a recent petition to Trader Joe’s, customers called on grocery chain to reduce their reliance on plastic packaging, garnering over 120,000 signatures. The company acknowledged this grassroots call for change, providing a status update since their announcement in late 2018.
Conclusions and the future for tackling plastic pollution
While there is hope hearing the world’s biggest brands acknowledge the role they play in and their plans for curbing plastic pollution, it is evident that is not enough. It takes more than a few companies to set green goals in order to move the needle forward. We need to continue holding big brands accountable, foster and support new ideas that open new horizons for plastic packaging and waste, and change our own behaviors to start addressing the global plastic pollution crisis.
Belinda C. Chiu is a public health professional and contributing writer at The Rising. She studied Social and Behavioral Interventions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is passionate about climate advocacy, sustainable development, and zero waste. She is the founder of A Healthy Blueprint, a resource for individuals looking to reduce their environmental footprint. She serves as Associate on the Youth Engagement team at Women Deliver, a leading global advocacy organization for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women.
800 climate activists arrested during London’s Extinction Rebellion protests
London’s Metropolitan Police have made nearly 800 arrests this week, targeting climate activists demonstrating in Central London. The protesters, part of the Extinction Rebellion, have blocked roads and public sites such as Trafalgar Square and Westminster Bridge. The group aims to put pressure on the UK government to do more to combat the climate crisis.
But the government has so far criticized the movement, with Boris Johnson publicly insulting the protesters and the Met police arresting hundreds by the day.
The Extinction Rebellion heats up
As protesters continue to congregate, tensions with the police have increased. The police have demanded that protesters contain their demonstrations to Trafalgar Square, attempting to limit the movement’s widespread protests across the city.
Since the protests began on Monday, police have arrested around 800 activists, paralleling the 1,130 Extinction Rebellion arrests made in April.
Despite the crackdown, the demonstrations have been peaceful. From one of 60 participating cities, Londoners have gathered for a two-week long, non-violent occupation of public locations throughout the Westminster borough, where the Houses of Parliament meet.
The crowds represent all sorts, from students to Oxford professors to parents with young children. They’re singing, chanting, sleeping in tents, leading yoga classes, and, at one gathering, even enjoying a live samba band.
Last week, protesters also sprayed nearly 2,000 liters of fake blood on the Treasury building to highlight government hypocrisy. In a statement, the movement criticized the UK’s pride in leading the fight against climate change, despite “pouring vast sums of money into fossil exploration and carbon-intensive projects.”
These actions contribute to the Extinction Rebellion’s ultimate goals. They’re mobilizing to draw attention to the urgent threat of climate change and demand the UK government take action.
The movement has three major demands:
- Tell the Truth. According to Extinction Rebellion UK, the group is demanding their government declare a climate and ecological emergency. In essence, they want the government to acknowledge the dire consequences of climate inaction and take a stand.
- Act now. Secondly, the protesters want the UK government to create stronger initiatives against climate change. They specifically are asking Parliament to stop biodiversity loss and enforce net-zero carbon emissions by 2025, rather than 2050.
- Beyond politics. The Extinction Rebellion also demands an institutional shift that would give more power over climate-related decisions to the British people. They propose the UK government create a Citizens’ Assembly, which would handle decisions about climate and environmental justice.
These demands have encouraged large crowds of supporters and activists. Protesters have stood their ground, despite police attempts to shut down the demonstrations.
“This is our home, our planet, our future, and we are destroying it. The government needs to step up and tell the truth,” one activist remarked.
Another demonstrator, 83-year-old Phil Kingston, spray-painted the UK’s finance ministry building with the message: “Life, not death for my grandchildren.” Kingston was arrested shortly afterwards.
Also among the crowds were George Monbiot, a popular environmental writer and political activist, and former politician Stanley Johnson — Boris Johnson’s father.
The movement faces government backlash
Despite the peaceful nature of these protests, the UK government has not taken a liking for these displays of civil disobedience.
The UK’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called the protesters “uncooperative crusties,” highlighting his disdain for citizens who exercise their right to assemble and disapprove of their government’s actions — or rather, inaction.
Funnily enough, Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson, embraced the title. “I regard it as a tremendous compliment to be called an uncooperative crusty,” he said to a protester crowd at Trafalgar Square.
Donning an Extinction Rebellion pin, he continued: “From tiny acorns, big movements spring. We have been moving far too slowly on the climate change issue.”
Despite its humor, the insult pinpoints the current resistance of Parliament to enact real change.
And with police arresting protesters by the dozens, the government’s distaste for these climate activists has real consequences.
Yet, in spite — or maybe because — of hundreds of their fellow activists facing arrests, the Extinction Rebellion is going strong. For them, the time is now.
Meet Activist Autumn Peltier: The Young “Water Warrior” Making A Splash
Autumn Peltier, one of many young voices against the climate crisis, is stirring up a storm. Indeed, we are witnessing a mass, youth-led movement against climate change. From the recent UN Youth Climate Summit to the Zero Hour movement, young people are uniting in a common cause. And they’re demanding our attention.
They’re fighting for environmental justice. For governments to take a stand against climate change. And most importantly, for their futures. At the front line of this battle is Autumn Peltier, an international advocate for clean water.
Who is Autumn Peltier?
Autumn Peltier is a 15-year-old, indigenous, clean water activist. She’s a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation in northern Ontario. She lives on Lake Huron, one of North America’s Great Lakes — the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth.
It follows that growing up, Peltier always had access to clean water. But Peltier knows that others are not so lucky.
“We keep seeing and hearing that there’s First Nation communities that can’t drink their water, that it’s contaminated from pollution and pipelines breaking,” she told a reporter at CBC. “One day it really affected me and I actually cried about it.”
After this revelation, Peltier began to advocate for the universal right of clean drinking water — at just eight years old. She learned from her aunt, Josephine Mandamin, who also worked to protect Canada’s water. Mandamin walked the shores of the Great Lakes to advocate and raise awareness for water conservation.
Following those footsteps, Peltier has broken major ground for indigenous water rights. An official “water protector,” she fights for universal clean drinking water. Specifically, she advocates for safe waterways and drinking water for indigenous peoples in Canada and beyond.
“Water is one of the most sacred elements in our culture,” she said.
Peltier’s important strides
Even at such a young age, Peltier has already done a lot to raise awareness of water rights and ensure communities have access to safe drinking water. Notably, she met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016. She, in tears, insisted he do more to prevent Canadian communities from consuming unsafe water. The Prime Minister had endorsed several pipeline projects, endangering First Nation communities.
Because of these pipelines, over 100 indigenous communities received boil water advisories. These government issued advisories indicate that a community’s drinking water could be contaminated with pathogens and is not safe to drink without first boiling it.
Peltier has also brought her message to the international community.
In 2015, she attended the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden. And in 2017, she received a nomination for the Children’s International Peace Prize.
In 2018, Peltier traveled to the UN General Assembly in New York. There, she addressed the UN on water rights, as part of the commencement of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development.
Peltier speaks at the United Nations
“Water is the lifeblood of Mother Earth,” she told the UN. “Our water should not be for sale. We all have a right to this water as we need it.”
Just last week, Peltier returned to the UN. This time, she spoke at the Global Landscapes Forum, which focuses on sustainability of land.
In her speech, she stressed the alarming number of indigenous communities lacking clean water, and how little has been done.
“All across these lands, we know somewhere where someone can’t drink the water,” she said.
“Why so many, and why have they gone without for so long?”
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