All over the world, people, the young in particular, are calling for change to the way governments interact with the threat of climate change. There is global agreement that ‘business as usual’ is not going to match the level of threat science makes clear we are facing over man-made warming of the atmosphere. For many decades we have known that the burning of fossil fuels is adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere affecting the functioning of the carbon cycle. The net result of the increase in CO2, in combination with other factors, such as deforestation and atmospheric pollution has been to see global temperatures rising as the greenhouse effect worsens.
None of this is news. Neither is the fact that not enough has been done to address the problem. But, we are living in different times. The confidence of ordinary people in their political leaders is currently very low. This view is based on their unwillingness to act, or worst still their staunch loyalty to the demands of expanding global trade and corporate self-interest. For the first time in our history there is group with so much to lose that they will not be silenced in the face of such intransigence. Our young people have listened well, they have heard the message and they have understood what it will mean if we continue to behave as we do. The need for a climate of change to tackle this existential threat head on has been accepted by our young people. Our task is to support this climate of change, not only to halt climate change but to set in motion those actions and policies that we know can reverse the damage.
Many people have criticised the fact that young people are missing a day of schooling in protest over the climate emergency. Their response, as is mine, is to explain that whereas they know their education is important to their individual futures, first they have to convince those who have systematically ignored the warnings of the past to take action to reverse climate change. Only then may they be assured that they and their world will survive the threat posed by this very present danger. If we feel that future belongs firstly to them and their children, we have a moral duty to stand beside them.
Others, including rather unexpectedly the MP Michael Gove believe the action being taken by young people is necessary. This could be his one service to humanity. As this report shows, his own daughter is taking part in the movement. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-suffolk-47585968/schools-climate-strike-east-of-england-pupils-protest
WHAT CAN WE DO TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE?
The problem is huge but there are small and very manageable interventions that we can make from the comfort of our own homes.
1 Our love of meat has resulted in deforestation in many parts of the developing world, notably, the Brazilian rainforests. Simply by cutting down on our consumption of meat, we can make a measurable contribution to reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. Done with the support of farmers this need not threaten their livelihoods.
2 By making sure we reduce our energy consumption and waste we can help reduce our carbon footprint.
These two simple steps can be graded to suit personal circumstances, but even by making small adjustments of this kind will demonstrate that we are part of the climate of change that will help safeguard our children’s futures
World leaders have not always put the future security and wellbeing of their citizens at the heart of their policy agenda. This is a global problem, felt even at local council level. Big business has dominated thinking as politicians struggle to grow their national economies in the competition for growing markets. Too often this has even been in the face of knowing that some policies are going to exacerbate the problems we face. For example, promoting the continued use of fossil fuels when resources could be switched to renewables. The way to move beyond this is to do exactly what our young people are doing through their FridaysForFuture movement, bringing their opinions about what they expect to change directly to the seats of power, locally, nationally and internationally. Join with them now!
3 Write to your MP and your local councillor, telling them that you expect them to honour their commitment to make sure that policies that harm the environment, including the air we breathe, are rejected in favour of a cleaner, healthier future for all.