On Friday 15th march 2019 over 1.4 million school children and students in cities across the world ditched school and classes to protest against the immoral inaction, apathy and lack of leadership at tackling climate change. Originally inspired by Greta Thunberg protesting on her own outside the Swedish parliament her initiative has grown to become the largest climate change movement in history and last week she got nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.
It really is a great story. When Greta was 11 years old she was depressed because of the inaction over climate change and was diagnosed with Asperger's and selective mutism. At age 15 she went on strike from school and sat outside the Swedish Parliament every day for 3 weeks in Summer of 2018 to demand that the Swedish government reduce their carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. Since then she continued to do the School Strike 4 Climate on Fridays which have also become known as the Fridays for future and this has galvanised hundreds of thousands of young people to join her in this endeavour. The TED talk she gave at Stockholm is well worth a watch, a powerful speach from a young woman who has taken on board that science says there will be a huge deterioration of the environment during her life time that will last for centuries.
The School strikes movement has caught the attention of world leaders with many applauding the initiative. It should be applauded as most scientists have been banging their heads against a brick wall for more than 30 years to try and draw peoples attention to what can only be called an absolute crisis. A recent UN report said that a 3-5 degree temperature rise in the Arctic is now inevitable even if the world reduced emissions to the levels required in the Paris Agreement. It is appropriate that the biggest climate change protests in history have been organised by children as they are the ones who are having their futures stolen, certainly in terms of enjoying luxuries you and I enjoy now.
The United Nations page on Climate Change says
"Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries, even if emissions are stopped. There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed."
I recently posted a remark on a friends social media feed ribbing them about the size of thier carbon footprint from flying absolutely everywhere. I knew I'd hit a nerve because they deleted the remark and later posted their environmental credentials in terms of offsetting, not using plastics, etc. Offsetting sounds good but kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy & Climate Change at Manchester university has this to say on offsetting:
"Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.Assume I broke my (self-imposed) seven-year refusal to fly, paid my £35 offset and boarded a plane from Manchester to London for the conference. In doing so, I add to the already severe congestion at airports, causing delays and allowing politicians to argue for greater airport capacity, arguments only reinforced by the rise in passengers turning to offsets. To meet increasing demand, airlines are encouraged to order new aircraft, which they promise will be more efficient. Feeling pressure, a future government approves new runways, but the extra flights and emissions swamp efficiency gains from the cleaner engines."
Using trains and flying less frequently shoulde come before offsetting, just as reducing waste and reusing materials comes before recycling.
The next decade is set to be critical in dealing with climate change and anyone who doesnt have a look at their lifestyle to try and reduce their carbon footprint doesnt really have a leg to stand on, they are complicit in making the future worse for kids. Most BMC members are keen on the environment, looking after crags and mountains so they can be enoyed by others in the future. As this is the case Climate Change should be given top priority as an issue that absolutely everyone can and should do something about.
There will be another worldwide school strike on the 15th April and they are welcoming anyone of any age to support the protests. If anyone has any ideas about what the BMC could be doing around climate change feel free to drop me an email HERE.
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