Author:Gajewski, Karen Ann

Just one week before the twenty-third conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (held November 6-17, 2017), the UN World Meteorological Organization announced that worldwide levels of carbon dioxide surged at record-breaking speed in 2016 and resulted in levels higher than any experienced in at least 4.5 million years. The WMO data also shows that 2017 was one of the hottest years on record and portends--unless carbon emissions are reduced--an escalation in the severity and frequency of weather events such as the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and the United States last year.

Scientists are worried that increasing light pollution will negatively impact life on Earth. A report published in November in Science Advances states that data collected by a NASA satellite radiometer (designed to measure the brightness of night-time light) reveals that between 2012 and 2016 the planets artificially lit outdoor area grew by more than 2 percent each year. Another recent study in Nature warns that artificial light is a threat to crop pollination due to decreased activity of nocturnal insects, while several more studies, including one published by the US National Academy of Sciences, state that artificial light pollution has dramatically altered the behavior of migrating birds and affected their navigational abilities.

Noting that violence against women is the most visible evidence of pervasive patriarchy and chauvinism, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called in November for collective global action toward achieving gender equality and the full empowerment of women. A special initiative called 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (November 25December 10) included hundreds of events worldwide--including marches, concerts, sporting events, and orange illumination of iconic buildings--to draw attention to the right of every female to a live a life free of violence.

In Indonesia, violence against women applicants to the military and police forces is perpetrated by subjecting them to "virginity tests." According to Human Rights Watch, the abusive procedure of inserting two fingers into applicants' vaginas to determine if their hymens are intact is officially classified as a "psychological" examination for "mental health and morality reasons," as well as a way to determine if the applicant is pregnant. Undergoing a virginity test has even been required by the fiances of military officers. In November 2014 the World...

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