The earth is sick as the state of the environment worsens by the day, and the consequences are all too evident – even to children. Climate change and its damaging impact (global warming) on livelihoods continue to stare us in the face. Taking a cue from Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg – who protests weekly outside her country’s parliament hundreds of thousands of school children and university students over the weekend took to the streets to air their concerns about the deteriorating state of the environment.
Across all continents, youth on March 15, 2019 abandoned classes for a day, demanding their political elite to urgently address the “climate emergency.” Protests were coordinated via social media by volunteers in 125 countries and regions, with more than 2,000 events held on the theme, “Fridays for Future.” The protests have been going on for several months.
In Tokyo, Japan, one of the organisers, Ten Maekawa, 20, led the crowd in chants of: “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” “In 2030, the earth will be in danger because of climate change. We are responsible for the future, so it’s very important for the young generation to speak up about climate change,” Maekawa said. Australia’s Education Minister, Dan Tehan, said “Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage.”
The United Kingdom Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, said the disruption increased teachers’ workloads and wasted lesson time. But his Environment counterpart, Michael Gove, backed the protesting children, saying in a video: “Dear school climate strikers, we agree. Collective action of the kind you’re championing can make a difference, and a profound one.”
The Paris Climate agreement of 2017 committed nearly 200 countries to keep global temperatures “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and to strive for a maximum of 1.5C. But much is still to be accomplished in this regard.