New Activists Forcing Attention on Climate Change
Climate change first came out as front page news thirty years ago. Since then, a familiar pattern has developed – scientists issue increasingly dire warnings, which create a stir, but emissions continue to rise. That’s the issue with the climate crisis – changes are gradual, and for the most part, people can go on with their everyday lives. But there is a new generation of activists starting movements that are forcing us to pay attention to climate change.
Child Activists and Fridays for Future
One of the largest movements has been the “Fridays for Future” movement, led by Greta Thunberg. What makes it notable is that it’s led by school kids. Children around the world walked out of class to try and force their countries to adhere to the Paris agreement. Friday, May 24, is on track to be the largest walk-out to date. The last strike on March 15 made quite a stir as well, with 1.6 million students from 125 countries walking out of school to demand climate change action. Here in the US, Haven Coleman leads the US Youth Climate Strike and coordinated the strike in March. Their objectives include reframing the conversation about our heating planet as a climate crisis, and to make sure it stays a top global priority – and so far, it seems to be working.
The Time for Action is Now
The past year has included a few alarming reports on the environment. We’ve gotten dire warnings from the IPCC about the consequences of letting the globe warm more than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. There was also a recent report arguing that “One million of the planet’s eight million species are threatened with extinction by humans.” Many of the young climate strikers have been motivated by experiencing the effects of climate change already. Student activists have cited bushfires in Tasmania, wildfires in California, flash flooding and coral bleaching in Mauritius as some of their reasons for joining the Fridays for Future movement. But the positive side of all of this is that it seems to be waking us up to the reality we’re facing, and motivated many to take action. Even staunch Republican Lindsey Graham conceded that climate change is caused by humans, and endorsed a price on carbon. On May 1st, the UK became the first country to declare a climate emergency. Here in the U.S., many states have banded together to try and tackle climate change. Nevada became the 23rd state to join the United States Climate Alliance in March. The hour is late but we still have time to solve the climate crisis, and it seems like we may have finally started to find the motivation.
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