Call for urgent climate action

Imagine your 15-year old self. Could you have inspired youth worldwide to answer the question: when is enough enough?

When it comes to climate action, what will it take to instigate the necessary change? How radical must we be? 15-year old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl, sat outside Swedish parliament on a school strike in August last year.

There was no point going to school if she did not have a future, Greta claimed. She promised to do all in her power to focus government and media on the climate crisis. Greta then grabbed world attention at the UN COP 24 when she blamed world leaders for stealing and burning her future.

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is …. You have run out of excuses and we are running out of time,” she said. “Our civilisation is being sacrificed for a very small number of people to make a lot of money …. The suffering of many pays for luxuries of a few”.

In March this year an estimated 1.5 million children and students around the globe went on a school strike, pleading for us to panic now and implement urgent “system change not climate change”. Outspoken and clear-thinking Greta has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize.

This urgent call for change is a growing global phenomenon. In October 2018, 100 UK academics signed a call to action, and Extinction Rebellion (XR) began. In a few months this became an international apolitical movement using non-violent and often curated and artistic civil disobedience to achieve radical change. The aim? To persuade governments to act now on human extinction and ecological collapse.

On 16 April 2019 XR almost shut down London with thousands taking to the streets, occupying various bridges and blocking roads with colourful creative protests. At the time of writing this, protests were reported in about 80 cities in 33 countries with more than 200 arrested in London alone.

Scientists have long warned that our carbon intensive society’s burning of so much coal, oil and gas will tip us into devastating climate change. As global carbon emissions soar, so do extreme and catastrophic weather events. Droughts, all-time high heat waves and raging megafires are becoming the new norm on hothouse earth. It is feared that we will not survive the “accelerating feedback loops (that) could interact in catastrophic ways: collapsing ice sheets; faster-than-expected sea level rise; forest dieback; ocean acidification and thawing permafrost.”

I have known of these issues and have worked to spread awareness and instigate change since the 1970s so am encouraged by this new wave of activism. Yet I despair at how many (even family and friends) choose to remain unaware or indifferent to the unfolding planetary disaster. I doubt many could, like Greta, convince our families to become vegan, refuse to fly around the planet or resist buying new clothes to reduce our carbon footprints.

Surely each one of us can take some action to contribute to a healthier future.

For inspiration see Greta at the UN and on TED

Extinction Rebellion

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