Have you ever heard a world leader praising students for skipping school and marching down the road to shout and protest?
‘I believe it is a very good initiative,’ said German chancellor Angela Merkel, when ‘school students demonstrate and tell us to do something fast about climate change.’ Well, now you have.
Not only in Germany, but in Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, young people have started to rebel against their leaders and protest against their inability to protect the world from the climatic troubles of the future. Their banners were loud and clear: ‘We have the power to change the power’ (Australia); ‘System change, not climate change’ (UK), ‘Make the planet cool again’ (Germany).
This budding uprising has its Joan of Arc in the Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. Since she started a protest outside the Swedish parliament last year, she has already addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference and the World Economic Forum. ‘I want you to panic,’ she told businessmen in Davos, before describing what may happen to our planet over a 50-year time frame, a period in which she and her generation will still be alive while many of those listening to her will long since have passed on.
The wave is mounting. Climate change is a disaster in slow-motion that requires a forward-thinking vision, usually baffling to people, let alone politicians. ‘We have to reconcile jobs and economic health with the goals of climate protection,’ Merkel added. This ‘disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for,’ a Downing Street spokesperson said of the kids hitting the streets in the UK.
The slow and silent disruption of the atmosphere’s physical and chemical balance is likely going to disrupt the lives of those born in this century. So, they are the ones who have the utmost right to break the silence and hasten action. It is too early to say if Millennials, or Generation Y, will turn into Generation Climate, or ‘Gen C’. But, if their knowledge of, and shock about the forecasted rise in temperatures, sea levels and natural disasters is remembered as they grow up to a voting age – prime ministers will listen.
This was published in the April 2019 edition of Geographical magazine
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