Parkland mourns 2 student suicides a year after Stoneman Douglas shooting. Now parents are urged to be alert

Repost from CNN

By Kaylee Hartung, Susannah Cullinane and Holly Yan, March 25, 2019 10:37 AM ET

The grief that still envelops Parkland after last year’s school massacre is now compounded by the recent suicides of current or former students.

Community leaders are urging parents everywhere to be vigilant and proactive in talking to their kids about trauma.

Parkland school shooting survivior dies by suicideSydney Aiello, a 2018 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, died by suicide last week. She survived the attack on Valentine’s Day 2018 that killed 17 people at the Florida school — including 14 students and three staff members.

Aiello, a Florida Atlantic University student, suffered from survivor’s guilt and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, her mom told CNN affiliate WFOR.
Then on Saturday, more tragedy struck Parkland when a second student died in what police describe as “an apparent suicide.”
The student, who has not been publicly identified, was a student at Stoneman Douglas High. It’s not clear under what circumstances the student died, or whether the apparent suicide was related to last year’s massacre.

Parents: ‘We have to take this seriously’

“Unfortunately, what we’ve learned is that the survivors of a traumatic event like a school shooting carry with them a lot of guilt, anxiety, pressures, depression even,” said Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina Petty was killed in last year’s shooting.

Study: More US school-age children die from guns than on-duty US police or global military deaths

Petty, who has another child who survived the attack, established the WalkUp Foundation after the shooting with a focus on preventing suicide.
“We just have to assume as a parent that your child is not immune for that. Your child is at risk, and you need to take that seriously,” he said.
Petty said the school district, community leaders, law enforcement and concerned parents met Sunday to discuss how to address the trauma survivors are facing.
“Even if everything appears to be OK, you need to take that seriously,” he said. “You need to ask them the questions. Have you thought about killing yourself? Have you thought about ways you might do that?”
How to get help for someone who might be suicidal
Petty said students had been offered resources after the shooting, including counseling options. But he said sometimes there are stigmas associated with getting help, or that students just pretended that they were OK.
“So unfortunately some students are not availing themselves of those opportunities, and some parents are not understanding that the risks of anxiety and depression in a post-traumatic environment like a school shooting,” Petty said.
“So our message is parents we have to take this seriously. We have to take this into our own hands. … Regardless of your proximity to the building and whether or not you saw the horrific events of that day that took 17 lives and injured 17 others, you’re part of a school community and that community is suffering.”

The power of peer-to-peer communication

Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, the president of Children’s Services Council of Broward County, also attended Sunday’s meeting.
1 year after Parkland, parents and teachers are still grieving. These are their stories
“One of the things that I have heard parents and children say is that nobody cares, and they just want us to get on with our lives. And I really want them to know that that’s not true,” she said.
“I just left a room full of 60 people who came on a moment’s notice on a Sunday afternoon to show how much they care.”
She said that peer-to-peer communication could be a powerful tool, as teenagers might not turn to their parents as a first resource.
“We want to harness the power of the young people to speak to each other,” she said. That may include using Instagram, Snapchat or any other method that could “yield huge benefits.”

MSD students use their experience to help others

In an example of such networking, MSD students have themselves been reaching out beyond their own community to help other people experiencing trauma.
Parkland students comfort families in Nwe Zealand
Survivors began a letter-writing campaign last week to help heal families and communities affected by the March 15 shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Parkland students grew connected to the Christchurch community when they visited New Zealand last July on a learning and healing trip.
“We got letters after our tragedy. That was something that really surprised us,” said Kai Koerber, a Stoneman Douglas senior who went on last year’s trip.
“It’s something that really warmed the hearts of people in my community. I think it will warm the hearts of people in Christchurch as well.”

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, here’s how to get help: In the US, call theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

    After Paris agreement, big oil and gas companies invested $110 billion in fossil fuels

    Repost from CBS NEWS Moneywatch

    By Irina Ivanova, March 25, 2019 / 6:00 AM

    In the three years since most of the world’s nations signed on to the Paris climate agreement, major oil and gas companies have poured more than $100 billion into their fossil-fuel infrastructure. That’s more than 10 times the amount the same companies have spent on low-carbon investments, despite lip service toward that area, according to a new report.

    InfluenceMap analyzed public disclosures of major oil and gas companies. The five biggest—ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total—will collectively spend $115 billion on capital investments this year, according to the report. Just 3 percent of that spending will go to low-carbon investments, like hydrogen batteries or electric-car charging stations.

    InfluenceMap contrasts this with the money the companies spent on “branding and lobbying” related to climate, which cost the oil and gas giants $1 billion since the end of 2015, per the report. That includes money spent directly as well as through trade groups that oppose carbon restrictions, including the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.

    “The aim is to maintain public support on the issue while holding back binding policy,” the report says. The spending shows “the increasing disconnect between the oil majors’ efforts towards positive climate branding and their lobbying and actual business decisions,” it reads.

    BP last year put $13 million toward defeating a carbon pricing proposal in Washington State. Exxon stated it would support a carbon tax, provided that the tax wouldn’t raise any government money and would offer immunity in climate-change lawsuits, of which there are many. At the same time, Exxon ran extensive social media ads promoting oil and gas development and opposing restrictions on fossil fuels.

    That’s significant because scientists have given the world a roughly 10-year window to rapidly move off fossil fuels if it is to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, according to the United Nations’ climate change panel and the U.S. federal government. Recognizing this, oil and gas companies have devoted more attention to low-carbon rhetoric, though InfluenceMap notes there’s a lack of money backing the investment in alternatives.

    The U.S. dramatically ramped up its oil and gas production last year, becoming the world’s top producer of oil for the first time in four decades. The extraction industry is projected to expand by more than 6 percent this year, analysts say.

      Copenhagen Wants to Show How Cities Can Fight Climate Change

      Repost from the New York Times

      The beginning of a ski run on the roof of Copenhagen’s new trash incinerator, which will help heat buildings in the city.  CreditCredit

      By Somini Sengupta, Photographs by Charlotte de la Fuente, March 25, 2019

      COPENHAGEN — Can a city cancel out its greenhouse gas emissions?

      Copenhagen intends to, and fast. By 2025, this once-grimy industrial city aims to be net carbon neutral, meaning it plans to generate more renewable energy than the dirty energy it consumes.

      Here’s why it matters to the rest of the world: Half of humanity now lives in cities, and the vast share of planet-warming gases come from cities. The big fixes for climate change need to come from cities too. They are both a problem and a potential source of solutions.

      The experience of Copenhagen, home to 624,000 people, can show what’s possible, and what’s tough, for other urban governments on a warming planet.

      The mayor, Frank Jensen, said cities “can change the way we behave, the way we are living, and go more green.” His city has some advantages. It is small, it is rich and its people care a lot about climate change.

      Mr. Jensen said mayors, more than national politicians, felt the pressure to take action. “We are directly responsible for our cities and our citizens, and they expect us to act,” he said.

      In the case of Copenhagen, that means changing how people get around, how they heat their homes, and what they do with their trash. The city has already cut its emissions by 42 percent from 2005 levels, mainly by moving away from fossil fuels to generate heat and electricity.

      Wind turbines along the strait that separates Denmark from Sweden, seen from the Amager Strandpark in Copenhagen.
      A suburban commuter train. A new subway line, scheduled to open this year, will put most residents less than half a mile from a station.

      Politics, though, is making it hard to go further. A municipal government can only do so much when it doesn’t have the full support of those who run the country. Mr. Jensen, 57, a left-of-center Social Democrat, for instance, has failed to persuade the national government, led by a center-right party, to impose restrictions on diesel-guzzling vehicles in the capital. Transportation accounts for a third of the city’s carbon footprint; it is the largest single sector and it is growing.

      By contrast, the national government, in a move that its critics say encouraged private car use, has lowered car-registration taxes. The transportation minister, Ole Birk Olesen, said the government wanted to reduce what he called “the over-taxation of cars,” though he added that, ideally, Danes would buy only zero-emissions cars in the coming decades.

      And so, Copenhagen’s goal to be carbon neutral faces a hurdle that is common around the world: a divide between the interests of people who live in cities and those who live outside.

      Many opposition politicians and independent analysts say they doubt Copenhagen can meet its 2025 target, and some critics say the plan focuses too much on trying to balance the city’s carbon books rather than change the way people actually live.

      “We run around in fossil fuel burning cars, we eat a lot of meat, we buy a hell of a lot of clothes,” said Fanny Broholm, a spokeswoman for Alternativet, a left-of-center green party. “The goal is not ambitious enough as it is, and we can’t even reach this goal.”

      Mr. Jensen, for his part, is bullish on what he calls the capital’s “green transformation.” City officials say this is only the start.

      A new Metro line, scheduled to open this year, will put the vast majority of the city’s residents within 650 meters, a bit less than half a mile, of a station. Bicycle paths are already three lanes wide on busy routes for the whopping 43 percent of Copenhageners who commute to work and school by bike — even on wet, windy days, which are plentiful.

      Recycling bins in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. The city requires residents to sort recycling into eight separate categories.

      All that wind helps generate the city’s electricity. Buildings are heated, in part, by burning garbage in a new high-tech incinerator — what garbage there is to burn, that is, considering that every apartment building now has eight separate recycling bins. For every unit of fossil fuels it consumes, Copenhagen intends to sell units of renewable energy. The city has invested heavily in wind turbines.

      In big cities, you have the money and the scale to change things, Mr. Jensen said as he led me on a bike tour from City Hall, where excavations for a new Metro station recently turned up the remains of two Vikings. We crossed a bicycle bridge that led to a once-industrial district, now home to trendy restaurants.

      As we rode, Mr. Jensen talked about parliamentary polls set for this spring. “Elections will come up in the next few months, and a lot of people living in the suburbs still have diesel cars,” he said. “It’s a political challenge. It’s not a technological challenge.”

      For Copenhagen, the path to carbon neutrality is paved with imperfect solutions.

      Frank Jensen, the Copenhagen mayor, at City Hall.

      Some of the city’s power plants have switched from coal to wood pellets, shipped in from the Baltics. That’s carbon neutral, in principle, if more trees can be planted in place of those that are cut down, and that has helped the city bring down its emissions significantly. But burning wood produces emissions; a lawsuit filed in the European Court of Justice argued that wood pellets should not count as renewable energy. Critics contend that big public investments in biomass only compel the city to use it for years to come.

      Then, there’s garbage. The city recently opened a $660 million incinerator, 85 meters tall, or about 280 feet, resembling a shiny half-built pyramid, with an even taller stack. It’s just a short walk from one of the city’s most popular restaurants, Noma. Designed by one of the country’s best-known architects, Bjarke Ingels, it comes with a year-round ski slope to attract visitors (and recoup some of the expenses). The mayor was one of the first to take a test run.

      Every day, 300 trucks bring garbage to be fed into its enormous furnace, including trash imported from Britain. That has a carbon footprint, too. But the chief engineer, Peter Blinksbjerg, pointed out that instead of going into a landfill, the rubbish of modern life is transformed into something useful: heat for the city’s long, cold winters.

      The Arc incinerator, right, with its year-round ski slope visible on the roof. The stack releases steam, not smoke.
      Inside the Arc, which burns 300 truckloads of garbage each day, including imported trash.

      Scrubbers remove most chemical pollutants before releasing steam into the air. By summer, a cafe is set to open in the shadow of the stack.

      Pedaling through the city these days, it is difficult to imagine what Copenhagen once looked like. There were factories in the narrow streets and ships in the oil-stained harbor. Coal-fired power plants brought electricity. The air was smoggy. A generation of city dwellers moved out to the clean-air suburbs.

      Today, even on wintry, wet days, commuters move along a busy bike highway that connects the warrens of the oldest part of the city, where some buildings date to the 1400s, to the northern neighborhoods, whizzing past the stately apartment blocks that overlook the lake. The bike lane is slightly elevated above the car lane, which feels safer than just a white line that demarcates bike lanes in many other cities.

      Inside a cozy neighborhood cafe, a medical student named Mariam Hleihel said she welcomed Mr. Jensen’s efforts to reduce the number of polluting cars in the city. “If we don’t do anything about it now, the consequences could be irreversible,” she said.

      Morning commuters on the Dronning Louises Bro, a bridge in central Copenhagen.

      She reflected a widespread sentiment among Danes. A 2018 survey by Concito, a think tank, found that addressing climate change was a top issue for voters. Slightly more than half of those polled said they would need to change their way of life to tackle global warming.

      Simone Nordfalk, a cashier at a bountiful outdoor vegetable market, considered the prospect of changing eating habits for the sake of climate change. Figs had been shipped in from Brazil. Strawberries from Spain. It would be tough to return to how Danes ate a generation ago. “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said. “It sells.”

      Copenhagen is girding itself for the impact of climate change, too. The rains are more intense, and the sea is rising. In the most vulnerable neighborhoods, the city is creating new parks and ponds for water to collect before it can drain out. There are new dikes by the harbor, and a proposal to build a new island in the northeast to block storm surges.

      Politically speaking, public apprehension about climate change may be the strongest wind in the mayor’s sails.

      “People are honestly concerned about it,” said Klaus Bondam, a former politician and now head of a bicyclists’ lobby. “You are an extremely tone deaf politician if you don’t hear that.”

      A tough climb on the morning commute.

      Martin Selsoe Sorensen contributed reporting.

      For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

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