School Strike For Climate: Why Have We Left It to Our Children To Do Something About The Climate Crisis?
“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.”
— Greta Thunberg, addressing the UN Climate Change Summit, December 2018
On August 29th 2018 Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg skipped school and staged a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament, holding a handmade sign which read ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ (‘School strike for the climate’). Just a year later, on Friday 20th September 2019, an estimated 4 million people took to the streets in 185 countries worldwide for the latest school strike — also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike 4 Climate.
These children from across the world are taking time out of their lessons to demand action to prevent further global warming, because it’s an issue which ‘is more important than homework’, as one placard read at Friday’s strike.
The science on climate change hasn’t changed significantly in decades, and you’ll all have heard the statistic that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is human-caused and urgent.
If that’s the case, why have we left it up to our children to do something about our climate crisis?
There isn’t a good answer to this question. We should have started earlier. We should have believed the scientists quicker. We should have realised that this was a human problem, with human consequences.
For the children in school today, a changed climate is their certain future. They are the ones who will bear the impacts of global warming. Children born in 2012, who are now seven years old, will turn eighteen and become adults in the year 2030. 2030 is widely seen as the ‘tipping point’; the year at which we will likely reach 1.5 degrees of warming, above which point we risk drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
And this is human-caused warming. We could have prevented it.
Children are also inherently vulnerable when it comes to the impacts of climate change. They lack resources and are susceptible to disease. UNICEF estimates that an additional 25 million children will be malnourished due to climate change, and a further 100 million will suffer from constant food insecurity, living on the verge of malnourishment and starvation.
“We are hurtling towards a future where the gains being made for the world’s children are threatened and their health, wellbeing, livelihoods and survival are compromised … despite being the least responsible for the causes. We need to listen to them.”
— David Bull, UNICEF’s UK executive director.
We have decided the future of our children. We are the ones who have caused this warming over the last several decades, and they are the ones who will bear the impacts. And so they are frustrated, and they are striking to get someone to listen and to do something about the climate crisis. As David Bull says, ‘we need to listen to them’, but we also need to join them. The strikes are continuing every Friday, so show your support if you’re able. Let’s not leave it all up to our children to do something about the climate crisis.