Climate Strikes: Fridays for the future, a call to action from young people around the world
"It’s our future!” was the main message from Friday’s Climate Strike. Young people wanted to take a stand and protest so that the adults, who have more power and say in decisions, would take notice and act now about climate change. Instead of climate change being on the “to do list” or kicked off into the long grass, that it was put at the top of every agenda and the changes and effects already showing themselves would be addressed now. They were worried that they and their children shouldn’t suffer the consequences of our inaction.
It’s our future not the grown-ups future. They need to help us do something about it now. We don’t want that when we are older, we look back and ask why didn’t they do anything? Evie 12
Friday 15th March was a day of global strikes, school children protesting and demanding that political leaders take action about climate change now. These Climate Strikes have mushroomed from an original protest by Greta Thunberg, a now 16 years old. She sat outside the Swedish parliament each Friday demanding change and action and young people across the globe are doing the same in the #FridaysforFuture campaign. There will have been a touch of rebellion about skipping school but there was also a lot of positive energy and excitement about the message along with plenty of effort in making awesome signs and placards.
These young people care and are worried. There were many strains to the placards, chants and thoughts on Friday, across the UK as part of the world-wide protest. Our warming atmosphere and greenhouse gases, rising sea levels, wildlife with polar bears and bees getting a mention, vegetarianism along with the destruction of the rainforests for cattle farming, fossil fuels and plastic straws were all areas of concern for the thousands of vocal young people who left school to join the strike.
“It’s important that we don’t ruin the world.” Elaine 12
They spoke of baby steps, small changes in their own lives that added into a larger pot of action and impact. They weren’t cynical or not bothered, not dismissing acting as “India and China pollute well more than we do, so what’s the point” or the Donald Trump, we’ve got a really cold winter school of thought. The strike was to urge political leaders to tackle climate change properly. There are many types of people in our society; those who don’t care and won’t ever care. Who are disengaged, maybe uneducated or just selfish. Others who have their head in the sand, don’t want to listen, are scared, want someone else to step in or won’t consider the issue until it is in their own backyard. And others who deny the whole climate change business. This lot on the strike were stepping up, asking for action because they are worried, right now.
Yet the baby steps of reducing plastic, turning down thermostats or as parents say, “put a jumper on”, eating less meat, using public transport more, they all have to be helping. If you could walk or cycle a few more journeys instead of taking the car, turn off the engine rather than idling outside the school gates, learn the 5 R's: refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, recycle, think where your food is coming from. All this being taught now becomes a way of life, not an awkward change to be made.
“I’m worried that the planet is warming up, with all the energy that we are using. That the icebergs are melting and the risk of coastal flooding to some counties around the world. Georgia 11. “Need to make everyone aware of how serious the issues are!” Charlotte 14
So, an individual can have impact, which then may spread to a community, a school or workplace. These school children will be making changes across the nation, buoyed up by Friday’s event, nagging their families as Greta Thunberg does, rejecting plastic packaging for their school lunches and not using single use water bottles. The next level is legislation which could be local councils, national governments and internationally, the Paris agreement.
“We’ve been given an opportunity where everyone can come along, to the strike from school and so we should seize that and make a difference.” Daniel 17.
In Edinburgh, the strike was outside the Scottish Parliament with a very good-natured crowd, singing, banging drums, cheering the lad who climbed up a tree. Having a say and using their voice was important, they wanted to be heard, and photographed. This generation knows how to create a great image. This is youth engagement in politics, it’s campaigning by people under 20, positive protesting by the voters of the future even though they maybe not able to vote right now.
“...the planet has been slowly deteriorating, we should have started a lot earlier which is why there is this mass movement, so with more people involved then we can spread awareness and make a change “ Hannah 17
This was their opportunity to make their voice heard, it was an uplifting event, empowering and inspiring. Let’s hope they are being listened to.