World governments largely ignore the signs of climate change

Down to Earth with Sasha

Sasha will be writing about the environment in her new column.

Sara Tuddenham '20

Sasha will be writing about the environment in her new column.

   Scientists have warned of the inevitability of climate change for years. Their pleas were ignored. It took a global movement of the world’s youth for global powers to actually listen.

   The campaign began in August 2018 when climate activist, Greta Thunberg, stopped attending school on Fridays. Instead, she stood in front of the Swedish Parliament building, to protest her government’s disregard for climate change. 

   People began to pay attention. 

   It started with a few other students who came to support Thunberg’s mission. Then a few turned into hundreds. As soon as Thunberg took the first step towards making a difference, students from all across Sweden, who believed in protecting the Earth, finally found a platform to make an impact as well.

    The platform grew to encompass students from over 150 countries. High school and middle school students, from all over the world, became aware of their ability to challenge lawmakers to build a new future. 

  Thunberg hopes the worldwide protests will be the “social tipping point” to inspire action.

   Protests are happening in all major cities, including Manhattan, London, Brussels, Paris, and Berlin. There will be over 4000 protests worldwide with 800 of them in the United States alone, The Guardian found. New Jersey is seeing protests form in Cherry Hill, Camden, Newark, and even Ocean City.

    Thunberg has become the innovator behind youth’s involvement in protecting the climate. However, she does not want any recognition, only change. 

    “Please save us your praise. We don’t want it,” she said to Senate legislators. “Don’t invite us here to tell us how inspiring we are without doing anything about it.”

   Climate activists from all over the globe are protesting with the “Fridays for Future” campaign on Friday, September 20, 2019. A map on the global climate strike website is available for anyone hoping to get involved with the protest. 

   The majority of climate activists involved in planning any “Fridays for Future” protests are under 18.

   Many schools across the United States are allowing excused absences if the student receives a parent’s consent to attend the protest. New York City public schools started the trend by allowing high school and middle school students to attend the protest without any repercussions. Elementary school students are stuck in class unless a guardian attends the protest with them. 

   As technology makes the news more accessible, students are becoming younger and younger when they first become aware of controversial issues. The youngest student at a climate protest in New York was found to be less than 9 years old. 

   The United Nations is hosting a Youth Climate Summit on Saturday, September 21 to hear directly from Thunberg and her fellow activists. The UN realizes, the youth have the answers and the ability to make change. On Monday, September 23, 2019, the UN Climate Action Summit, is set to take place between the world powers involved in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreements. 

   After hearing from students on Saturday, the world powers involved will plan on revising the treaty and setting higher climate goals, with talk of making the globe “carbon neutral” by 2050.

   Students are the future. If students don’t make their voices heard, the government won’t institute effective change. The Brazilian government is allowing the Amazon the burn, refusing to invest money to fight the fires. The American government has not only withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, but refuses to continue discussions about how to protect the global climate. Countries like Japan are still funding the coal industry in developing countries like Africa. Australia is further losing their environmental regulations to develop their economy. 

   Many governments are ignoring the signs that the climate is changing, instead making the tragedy worse. This needs to stop. Today’s youth needs to have a role in deciding the fate of the climate, before climate change becomes irreversible due to the actions of world leaders. Students need to create their own voices, following Greta Thunberg’s example and create a platform of their own.