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Thursday's papers: Climate strike, avalanche risk and liquorice pipes

Students missing school for climate protest, extreme weather causing more avalanches in Lapland and the regulation of liquorice pipes are among Thursday's headlines.

Kilpisjärven maisemia
Image: Jouko Pappila

Dozens of upper secondary school students in the capital region are likely to be absent from school on Friday, writes daily Helsingin Sanomat, as many of them head to central Helsinki to demonstrate about climate change.

For example, a group of students at a Kauniainen school will participate in the so-called climate strike to demand more action from decision-makers and business leaders.

“I’m not allowed to vote, so I’m trying to make a difference in this way,” says 17-year-old Cecilia Andersin from Gymnasiet Grankulla samskolan – a Swedish-language upper secondary school in Kauniainen.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published late last year says immediate and major action will be needed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C.

”The report makes for a discouraging reading, but we cannot become despondent. We need to act for our future and the future of our grandchildren,” says student Emilia Hanhirova, 19.

A protest, which will take place in front of Parliament, has attracted a fair amount of interest on Facebook, says HS.

The Kauniainen school does not support the strike. “It’s good that young people are active, but a strike is not the right means to have an impact. A strike will have a negative effect on school work, which is not the students’ intention either,” says Niklas Wahlström, principal at the Kauniainen school.

“Attending the protest on Friday will be considered an unauthorised absence,” he adds.

”Climate and environment are issues that apply to everyone. Having interest in them should not make one an activist,” says Hanhirova, who participated in the climate march in Helsinki at the end of October.

The climate strike is inspired by a similar event that has been going on each Friday in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm since last autumn. It was started by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, who addressed the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, last month.

Avalanche risk

In other environmental news, tabloid Iltalehti writes that climate change has increased the risk of avalanches in Finland.

“There used to be between one and three avalanches in the Ylläs region per year. But their number has risen in the past years. What’s more, tourism has really picked up so more people are at risk, especially those who do off-piste skiing,” says Tuomo Poukkanen, Ski Resort Director at Ylläs in Kolari, 160 km north of Rovaniemi.

Climate change is to blame for this increase, says climate researcher Markku Kulmala, but not just rising temperatures but also more extreme weather conditions.

"The amount of precipitation has increased and rains are more intense. A large quantity of snow may fall in a short period of time, which increases the risk of avalanches," he says.

Poukkanen agrees. ”As weather and temperature change suddenly, layers develop within snow. Some of these layers are weak, and will remain there for the whole winter season.”

Nevertheless, the risk of an avalanche remains much smaller in Finland than in Norway, for example, because of the different terrain, Iltalehti says.

Last week, four off-piste skiers, three of them Finnish, went missing in northern Norway and are now presumed dead, buried under an avalanche.

Liquorice pipe rules

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health believes that regulating pipe-shaped liquorice sweets will have a positive effect on Finns’ health, reports daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.

“According to the WHO, items resembling tobacco products should be regulated in a way that does not further the sale of tobacco products,” says ministerial adviser Meri Paavola from the ministry.

Timo Nisula – the owner of liquorice factory Kouvolan Lakritsi – said on Monday he’s appalled that grocery stores are banned from paying bonuses to customers who buy liquorice pipes, similarly to real tobacco products, MT reports.

“Nobody in the ministry can seriously believe that selling liquorice pipes increases pipe smoking among young people. Finland has a few war veterans who still smoke a pipe. If the ministry bans our liquorice pipes, we will start to call them saxophones or sea horses. That will make the ministry happy,” Nisula said.

Paavola says liquorice pipes fall into the same category as flavoured e-cigarettes. “I believe that regulating imitation tobacco products truly makes a difference,” she said.

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