I first heard of the climate change school strikes from my grandad, one of the ‘make love not war’ rebels of his generation. He said it looks like the young people will be the ones to change things. He has plenty of doubt in corrupt governments and powerful corporations but he has hope in us.
This seemed too good to be true so I did research. And sure enough, there was a real story of inspiration.
An unknown Swedish teenager had taken the facts of climate change to heart--they were bad enough to be a cause of her depression--but it didn’t stop there. She couldn’t deny it like so many of us do and took to sitting outside the Swedish Parliament every Friday. Her protests went viral and gradually people joined her. That was August 2018 and she was only 15 years old. Now Greta Thunberg has spoken at the UN Climate Change Summit, to the European Parliament and the UK Parliament. Her movement “School Strikes for Climate” and “Extinction Rebellion” have tens of thousands of people protesting across the UK and by March they had protests in over 2000 cities worldwide. They use nonviolent civil protest, marches, die-ins, and more creative methods like gluing themselves to things or stripping in Parliament, similar to the civil rights movement in America or the Suffragettes. The media headlines read “Protests Delay Commuters” when the real news is “CO2 Levels Threaten Humanity."
Some progress has been made, though, with the UK government declaring a Climate Emergency and gaining the issue more of the attention it deserves. The Guardian has changed the terminology they use from “Climate Change” to “Climate Emergency” or “Climate Crisis” to reflect the reality of the situation. This is a good start but a lot more needs to happen quickly.
So what are the facts?
At the end of 2018 the UN General Secretary warned that human life on earth now faces a “direct existential threat." Sea ice is disappearing and natural disasters are increasing in intensity and occurence. “On land the high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making rice crops less nutritious, threatening the well-being and food security for billions of people.” The full speech is well worth reading, and the link is at the bottom of the page.
Or if not us in the wealthy west, millions of people in poverty who are disproportionately affected by it will. They are already paying a huge death toll with the increase in floods, drought, famine, wildfires, and war.
The earth is not a plastic cup: we can’t take what we need and throw it away. We need to treat it like a quality piece of clothing handed down from our grandparents. It’s a precious heritage which needs care when using and patching up in places. Not like an item of fast fashion, here today to make us feel good and disposed of tomorrow.
The choices we make as individuals affect the environment. We should recycle and not buy more than we need. We should use our money as consumers to show companies that the environment is important to us. We should use public transport or walk whenever possible. We should reduce meat consumption.
But this isn’t enough. We are literally facing threat to our existence as a species. We need large scale political action.
I didn’t know it was this serious until now.
I don’t know what to do. It’s terrifying.
But it’s real. Truth is better than false hope.
I’ll write again when I know how to make radical change.
Full UN report
Easy to read summary:
Get involved in protests: