I want you to act as you would if your house was on fire.Greta Thunberg
I wouldn’t say I’m an avid climate striker. Yes, I’ve attended climate change events and marches in the past: in Wellington, Edinburgh and even travelling (by train from Edinburgh) to protest in Paris in 2015 when the notable Paris Agreement was reached. But my enthusiasm for attending climate change events waxes and wanes. Sometimes I wonder whether activism is really worth it? Or maybe it’s just not my calling? There are of course, many other ways individuals can try to address climate change, through their personal actions (like driving less, eating less meat or buying renewable energy) or petitioning government and business leaders to take action.
I think the reason for my fluctuating enthusiasm is that with addressing climate change we always seem to take two steps forward and one step back. Agreements are reached, pledges are made, renewable energy projects are built and climate-friendly initiatives are launched… but still, coal power plants are also built, energy needs are rising and emissions continually grow. Extreme weather events are now a fairly standard news item, which coupled with despairing reports on climbing sea levels, disappearing arctic sea ice and all the associated ecosystem impacts, fuel gloom. Here in Australia, it’s autumn but you wouldn’t know it. Six weeks since the end of the hottest January on record, we are still sweltering, with temperatures well into the mid thirties ( °C) in Brisbane this week.
It’s easy to get depressed or feel useless about the continuing climate devastation. But tomorrow’s school climate strikes, which have spiraled from teenager Greta Thunberg’s solo #FridaysForFuture strikes outside the Swedish parliament into a worldwide movement, inspire me. Like the pace of carbon emissions themselves, climate change action is rapidly evolving into a mainstream movement with those who will be impacted most, the youth of today, taking the lead. While they are mostly too young to vote, they demand action from political and business leaders. We have not done enough, they say. This is the frankness and honesty that we need. Youth tell it like it is: “…on climate change we have failed” (Greta Thunberg) and “We can’t afford not to take action” (Aisheeya Huq), because it is their generation who will be largely affected by climate change impacts.
I’ll be attending the School Strike for Climate tomorrow in Brisbane in solidarity. In support of youth who are bold enough to strike school regardless of being admonished by some political leaders for neglecting their education. An education that has given them knowledge of how their world might change for the worse in the future. If you too are a closet climate change activist, but can’t attend one of the many strikes being held worldwide tomorrow, check out 350.org’s list of five ways you can support in other ways (I’m doing #1 Spread the word here). Here’s to the youth of today, who stand for real climate change action. And to all those adults (like me) who need a bit more inspiration to act.