18th September 2019
Our political leaders fail us in many ways. But perhaps one of their greatest and most unforgivable failures has been their complete and utter unwillingness to definitively act on climate change.
In 1988, Dr James Hansen warned that global warming was here and that action was needed. Since then, countless Prime Ministers and Presidents have dithered and jeopardised the future of much of life on earth. David Attenborough who hasn’t been that outspoken about climate change, warned last year that, “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
It is this political mentality that protestors are seeking to alter when they make their voices heard in the climate protests on the 20th and 27th September. As Dr James Hansen said in an interview with the New York Times, “It’s very hard to see us fixing the climate until we fix our democracy.”
We’ve become complacent or possibly apathetic about the idea that our modern lifestyles will be drastically altered by climatic upheavals. Famine, mass migration on scales we can’t comprehend, unrelenting extreme weather events, food and water shortages along with sustained mental health issues (from the unfolding events) and physical health crises (from the spread of disease and infection) will take humanity to the edge of our limits. It is not a world you would want to live in, never mind raise children in.
Yet because us adults have taken a step back and because we’re not holding our leaders to account for the monstrous crime they’re committing (ecocide), it’s been left to children to fill the void where we should be. It’s our duty to act as role models for younger generations. It’s our responsibility to leave them a world that is better off than the one we entered.
But it doesn’t need to continue like this any longer. Each one of us can and should stand up to fight for climate justice and for a liveable climate for the future. Writing in an article for the journal Nature, Charlie Gardner and Claire Wordley note that for civil disobedience to be effective, sustained action by only 3.5% of a population is enough to depose even dictatorial regimes. That means we need 4 out of every 100 people to protest continuously until such time as global agreements are in place and action underway to dramatically lower carbon emissions to safe levels within the shortest period of time physically achievable.
The climate strikes will have over 4,600 events taking place in over 140 countries calling for concerted urgent action on climate change around the world. Hundreds of companies, including Patagonia, Lush, Burton, Ben & Jerry’s and Atlassian are giving their employees time off to attend the day of action. Around 1,000 staff from Amazon are walking out in protest at Amazon’s lack of action on climate change. More than 170 websites (including Kickstarter, Sunrise Movement, The Tor Project and Greenpeace) will be joining the digital equivalent of the climate strike to send a clear message — ‘No more business as usual’.
350.org also states that more than 65 trade unions will be joining the strikes including the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), as well as other large unions in South Africa, Germany and Australia to name a small few. Celebrities such as Billie Eilish are encouraging people to make their voices heard in the streets. Over 26,000 leading scientists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland support the school strike for climate and many professors, teachers and educators will be joining the strike on Friday 20th September. Thanks to Greta Thunberg and the youth climate strikers, climate change is finally being discussed across society.
We owe it to ourselves, but most importantly to future generations to win this fight. For better or worse, this burden is ours to bear and ours to overcome — together we can succeed. United the world will stand on Friday 20th September and united we will continue to stand until political leaders act.
To all the world leaders currently in power — I’ll share my thoughts with you from a previous blog, “The message to each and every world leader is clear, we need to reduce our emissions urgently and that means taking tough actions now. If you’re not bold enough to do this, then you’re not fit for office in this pivotal moment of human history. Either step up to the challenge or step down so that future generations don’t bear the brunt of your mistakes.”
Find your local climate strike here: https://globalclimatestrike.net/
You can read more about the strikes and the importance of joining them in my Independent article.
My debut children’s picture book, Hedgey-A and the Honey Bees, is about the need to protect bees from pesticide pollution. It can be purchased online here.