It’s a topic on everyone’s mind and it is not going anywhere, anytime soon. It’s climate change. People have been talking about the human effects on climate change for decades. It became a mainstream lesson topic discussed in classrooms in the early 80’s and now its urgency is ubiquitous as certain politicians, organisations and brave activists are bringing attention to this issue in evermore brazen and resounding ways.
Greta Thunberg is a 16 year old Swedish activist who campaigns in order to bring global attention to the issue of climate change. She had created a series of school walkout/strikes in November of 2018 to demand action for policies affecting the climate in her own country but after a speech at the 2018 Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland it exploded into a global phenomenon with countries all over the world taking part. It is estimated that 1.4 million students in 112 countries took part and the next one is planned for May 24th 2019.
In March of 2019 three Norwegian lawmakers put her name forward as an official nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. It has yet to be seen if she will become the youngest ever recipient since Malala Yousafzai.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an organisation based in the UK which plans protests and demonstrations to bring attention to the urgency of this topic. As recently as April 15th they organised a massive light rail protest to “highlight Government’s disastrous inaction on climate and ecological emergency.”*
Several protestors glued themselves to trains and blocked other major traffic arteries across the city of London. A truck on a bridge became the scene for impromptu chants and mini-concerts. Posters containing slogans such as “People and the Planet vs the Politicians” and “The climate is changing why aren’t we?” were unfurled along the streets as well.
Police confirmed that in just three days of protesting over 300 arrests had been made. Nevertheless, many protestors believe that this is the only way to have their voices heard. Daniel Williams, a man who started his own XR chapter in Wales believes that this kind of peaceful protest is much in line with other historic, and non-violent protests such as those of the Suffragette Movement, Gandhi and Martin Luther King.**
In the US, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a new young member of Congress who also has climate change at the forefront of her political agenda. Since being elected in Nov. 2018 she has used her position in the Congress as well as her effective use of social media to draw attention to this important problem.
Perhaps one of her more dramatic moves was the introduction of the Green New Deal which proposed many daring changes to the United States law and infrastructure to curb the harmful effects of CO2. It took full account of the fact that the US has been historically responsible for the vast majority of the CO2 emissions worldwide and argues that it will take equally drastic measures to take responsibility for this fact. Only a few of the features of the Green New Deal include:
- Helping communities most affected by pollution through investment and leveraging funding
- Heavy investment in renewable resources
- Upgrading existing buildings and creating new ones to be more energy efficient
- Supporting family farms/farming
- Investing in zero emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing
The deal has faced criticism from political opponents but it highlights a strong commitment to realizing a lasting and meaningful change. To achieve drastic results takes drastic measures.
There are many more such activists, organisations and politicians working tirelessly to secure the future of our planet. We can only hope that law and policy makers worldwide wake up and get on board so that lasting change can be affected.
Do you have any key figures in your country bringing climate change to the forefront? Have you ever taken part in an environmental protest? Let us know in the comment section below.
Ubiquitous – to be found everywhere
Brazen – bold, loud and conspicuous
Unfurled – rolled out, spread
To curb – to slow down, to reduce
Get on board – (figuratively) – to agree with the consensus on something