Greta Thunberg is the 16-year old who, if you have read literally any newspaper over the past few months, you will know has inspired a global youth movement to urge people to act on climate change. Hundreds of thousands of students across the globe took part in protests last Friday, but will they have a big enough impact to resonate with politicians and encourage them to implement policies to prevent global warming?
We have already wasted far too much time not acting on this, and as Thunberg quite rightly pointed out at COP24, a climate change conference in Poland in December, “you [adults] are not mature enough to tell it like it is,” begging the question of whether a generational divide exists regarding attitudes to environmental issues.
We already know how grave the future of the planet – or rather, the human race – looks. According to the 2018 report by the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are less than twelve years away from the point of no return. In other words, we have just over a decade to radically reform the way in which we as a species live before the Earth’s average temperature rises to the point which makes it impossible for humans to survive.
It aggravates me that politicians and newspapers report on climate change as if we need to act to preserve the Earth, when in reality the Earth will be fine. It will regenerate itself and foster new life – it just won’t be human. What we need to be saying instead is that we need to save ourselves from an imminent demise, one that we alone have caused.
This unpleasantly real possibility for the future of the human race is exactly why Greta Thunberg and these student protests are a fundamental catalyst for change.
Students the world over are finally getting behind the most vital political issue and making their voices heard. Whilst gender and racial equality, among many other goals, are obviously of paramount importance, we need to stop denying the campaigns for the prevention of climate change their rightful centre stage.
Let’s be realistic, striving for equality amongst people would be somewhat pointless if there were no people left alive to strive for! Only time will tell if these recent protests will have an impact on climate policy, but given the incredible global turnout by students and the constant media coverage they have gained, I am hopeful.
What certainly doesn’t help in such pressing situations is resistance to the cause. Case in point being Theresa May, who publicly complained during the climate protests in February that the students on strike were ‘wasting school time’.
Comments like this not only belittle the cause, but also demonstrate the fact that the PM – along with many of her generation – don’t consider the environment a political priority. Thunberg was quick to point out a major flaw in May’s comments, tweeting, “politicians have wasted 30 years of inaction, and that is slightly worse.”
Climate change is not a matter of debate; it is a fact, plain and simple. Leeds City Council has declared a climate emergency, and politicians across the UK need to follow suit and start exacting the change necessary for future generations to survive, let alone prosper. All we can do now is pray that they act before it really is too late to save ourselves. The clock is ticking…
Image Credit: Franks Feng