New research finds human activity has caused temperatures in Greenland to rise far beyond levels seen in the 20th century. The study in the journal Nature found that without immediate action to stop global heating, Greenland’s melting glaciers will raise sea levels by 20 inches by the end of the century, flooding coastal communities around the world. Researchers studying ice cores found first decade of the 21st century was the warmest for Greenland’s ice sheet in a thousand years. Temperatures in some parts of Greenland now average 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
The United Nations secretary-general has condemned fossil fuel executives for deliberately misleading the public about the threat posed by their products. António Guterres made the remarks in an address to the World Economic Forum Wednesday, after a new study found Exxon was aware of the link between fossil fuel emissions and global heating as early as the 1970s — but spent decades refuting and obscuring the science in order to make maximum profits.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “Some in Big Oil peddled the big lie. And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account. Today, fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that this business model is inconsistent with human survival.”
Guterres warned that the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsuius is “nearly going up in smoke.” He said that without further action, the planet is headed toward a 2.8 degree Celsius increase. Later in the broadcast, we’ll meet the Earth scientist who was fired from her job at a federal lab for her climate activism.
In Ukraine, the Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group is claiming its fighters have captured a strategic village outside of Bakhmut. The city in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has been nearly decimated by weeks of intense fighting.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zelensky appealed to allies to speed the delivery of tanks and other heavy weaponry to Ukraine. Zelensky spoke by video link to government, military and corporate leaders assembled at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “The supplies of Western tanks must outpace another invasion of Russian tanks. The restoration of security and peace in Ukraine must outpace Russia’s attacks on security and peace in other countries.”
Zelensky’s call came as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Berlin for talks with his newly appointed German counterpart. The Washington Post reports German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine — but only if the United States follows suit. This comes as the Biden administration is set to finalize a military aid package to Ukraine with $2.6 billion worth of additional weaponry, including first-time shipments of Stryker combat vehicles.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports the Biden administration is considering aiding Ukraine in a military campaign aimed at retaking the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia has occupied since 2014, even if such a move increases the risk of escalating the war.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says it’s placing inspectors at all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants in order to safeguard against a nuclear catastrophe brought on by Russia’s invasion. On Wednesday, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi toured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which Russia briefly occupied last year.
Rafael Grossi: “We certainly hope that there will not be any further occupation or attack on the plant. My efforts are aimed at avoiding that. And by having a permanent presence of the IAEA, we are taking a very concrete step in that direction.”
The IAEA is continuing to call for the establishment of a nuclear protection zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has repeatedly come under fire over the past 11 months of fighting.
Belarus has put exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on trial in absentia for committing treason. In 2020, Tsikhanouskaya ran for president against Belarus’s longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko after her husband Sergei was jailed while running for president. Sviatlana fled Belarus after the election. She denounced the trial as a farce.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “First of all, I have to say that in Belarus there are no honest trials. We live in absolute lawlessness in our country. So, tomorrow’s trial will be — on me, will be farce, show, but not like real justice, you know?”
In a remarkable victory for progressive activists, New York’s Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has rejected Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul’s nominee to become the top judge in New York state. In an unprecedented move, the committee voted 10 to 9 to oppose the nomination of Hector LaSalle, who is the first Latinx judge ever picked to head the New York Court of Appeals. Numerous unions, as well as civil rights, immigrant rights and reproductive rights groups, had opposed LaSalle’s nomination, citing what they described as his past anti-labor and anti-abortion rulings. LaSalle’s backers included House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
Amazon said Wednesday it will lay off 2,300 workers in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington — part of a plan to slash Amazon’s corporate workforce by 18,000. This comes after the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration — OSHA — cited Amazon with failing to protect workers at three warehouses against ergonomic hazards, putting them at risk for musculoskeletal disorders and lower back injuries.
In Atlanta, Georgia, protests against a planned police training center known as Cop City escalated Wednesday, when police say they shot and killed an activist who was part of the demonstrations. Police said they were conducting a major clearing of protesters who had occupied a wooded area outside the center when they were fired on, claiming they fired back after an officer was wounded by gunfire. Hundreds gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to mourn the protester’s death — where they disputed the police account. Longtime Atlanta activist Kamau Franklin tweeted, “We need an independent investigation on the killing of this protester. Why are SWAT teams in the forest w/ Georgia State troopers clearing a forest.” Six protesters were arrested Wednesday and charged with domestic terrorism.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced she will not seek reelection and will step down next month after more than five years in office.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: “I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.”
Ardern drew international praise for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, after her government stamped out the coronavirus for months until vaccines became widely available. She also drew praise for her compassionate response to a white supremacist attack in 2019 that killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. Shortly after those attacks, Ardern led a successful campaign to ban military-style semiautomatic and assault rifles.