If you read last weeks blog, you have an idea what teachers are thinking about. But what about students? I was watching the news when I heard a story of children in Belgium skipping school to express their concerns about climate change.
I wanted to know more.
Anuna De Wever is the seventeen instigator of that movement. What started with 3,000 students grew to around 35,000 demonstrators marching with the hope of changing the world. They decided to play truant on Thursdays because this cause was “more important than math lessons”.
She wants us to take public transportation, eat less meat, fly less often and wear heavier clothes in the winter. From her government—she wants even more. Money for action, of course. But primarily, she wants the topic of climate change to be at the top of their agenda.
And then there’s a Swedish teenager named Greta Thunberg. She’s been an even more influential climate activist. I decided to listen to her TED talk.
Greta has the look of a modern day Pippi Longstocking. She has long, slightly sloppy braids that curl out in a haphazard fashion at the tips. Her blue sweatshirt is too long for her petite body and this emphasizes her youth.
Greta introduced her talk by saying that she’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s, OCD and selective mutism. “Basically this means I only speak when I feel it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”
She speaks in a calm, even tone and frowns occasionally as she outlines the problems. Over 200 species are going extinct every day. Our emissions are going up, not down.
She’s obviously read the Paris Agreement and she breaks down the goal of Equity in the agreement for the listener. Rich countries, she explained, have to move their emissions to zero so that poor countries can build their infrastructure. After all, she insisted, how can we expect them to worry about the climate when they have concerns about clean water and building hospitals. She makes a lot of sense.
The goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius. According to Wikipedia, 195 members have signed the agreement that was originally drawn in 2015. (Our own president caused an uproar when he stated his intention to withdraw from the agreement in June 2017)
But before I go any further…is climate change even real? I still hear arguments that it’s all a myth. What would it take you to believe?
Take a look at the NASA.gov website. The graph on this page is compelling but listen to what else they say:
“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia."
Other sites stated that "There is a 97% consensus amongst published scientist agreeing that humans are responsible."
But, regardless of whether or not you believe…it’s obvious Greta does.
Greta asks “Are we evil?” After all, we aren’t doing enough to change the problem. “If there was a crisis—we’d see some restrictions but no ones acting like we’re in a crisis” Governments are not implementing changes… therefore it can’t really be a problem. Right?
A site called Global Weirding points out what we can expect if we do nothing according to a UN report on climate change. The report is over 2,000 pages long and based on 9,200 peer-reviewed studies. That’s strong research.
By the way, according to the website, Global Weirding...
Describes how the rise in average global temperature leads to all sorts of crazy things — from hotter heat spells to colder cold spells, more drought and intense flooding, as well as slow-onset changes such as ocean acidification and sea level rise. Also includes oddball things such as jellyfish clogging up the pipes of nuclear power plants, forcing them to shut down.
By 2100, we’ll face mass extinctions, further increase in wildfires and limited fresh water.
Crops yields will go down by 2030 and flooding and droughts will increase in 2040. This is starting to sound eerily like a warning about the Apocalypse.
Greta points out that in the year 2078, she will be 75 years old. She looked sternly over the audience and reminded them that her life, her children’s lives…will all be impacted by the decisions we make today.
She’s doing something about it. Greta’s been skipping school on Fridays. She’s presented herself to the Swedish parliament to talk about the crisis and possible solutions. Did I mention she was only fifteen? Other students in Europe are taking part too, using the hashtag #FridaysForFuture on social media.
According to Wikipedia, in December 2018, Greta addressed the United Nations climate change summit. She didn't pull any punches.
"You only speak of a green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children."
Greta says that it’s time for action because “our house is on fire”. She says it’s time to panic.
Based on everything I’ve read, I believe her.