Do we need a Climate Strike?
Greta Thurnberg annoys me. She really does. I find her messaging shrill and unconvincing. Her disdain for the establishment that is working so hard to channel funds towards adaptation and mitigation efforts is condescending. People have worked night and day to negotiate with reluctant governments to set stronger climate goals and all she has to say for it is, “blah, blah?” Who does she think she is? She’s no Nelson Mandela. She isn’t bringing people together, she’s tearing the movement apart, isn’t she?
Her movement isn’t even consistent, she only shows up on Fridays, when most people just want to relax after a long week at work or school and expects them to sit and protest with her? Who is even listening?
As I type these words, there is a raging debate as to whether Europe should use the sanctions imposed on Russia amidst the Ukraine Crisis to divest from Fossil-Fuel based energy altogether, or shore up their oil and natural gas reserves from external sources. Mere months after lofty promises at COP-26, the short term pain that may be caused by the lack of Russian natural gas is causing Europe to rebrand natural gas as renewable instead of using the opportunity to pivot towards a sustainable and independent energy policy.
Meanwhile, Canada is still going forward with crude oil extraction from the tar sands which is, alone, set to emit more than the entire Canadian national quota for Net-Zero emissions. The Biden Administration in the United States has decided to resume plans for Oil and Gas drilling on Federal Lands — so much for Building Back Better. Weren’t these countries just telling India and China not to use Coal anymore?
The progress of Electric Vehicle deployment is slow. Supercharging batteries remain elusive. Solar PV and Wind are in jeopardy due to China’s supply chain monopoly on the rare earth minerals that form their raw material. Water is getting ever more scarce as ground water reserves deplete across the globe. The polar ice-caps have seen record heat-waves in the past week, no longer leaving us in doubt as to whether sea levels will rise, but by how much?
It is not the generation of Biden and Putin, or even Zelensky who will face the full might of the Climate Crisis. It is us. The Millennials and Gen-Z.
It is our plans for our respective nations, the economic development, the schools and hospitals we want, the organic food we want to eat, it is our future that will be in a constant tussle with the money we will have to spend on first tackling heat-waves, hurricanes, droughts, floods and other climate induced disasters. Our innovations will be geared towards mitigating the problems our parents could have solved, not towards cool new tech.
The Inter-Governmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) just released its Sixth Assessment Report giving some bleak information, with Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of Working Group 2 saying, “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”
I have a great deal of faith in the millions of people who are currently working against the clock to find, implement and finance solutions to this crisis. I believe that we have found the tools to help us prevent the worst possible disasters, and the ability to scale those solutions.
I believe that we lack the political will to get it done, to get it done in time.
42% of the world’s population is under 25. Imagine that. Out of the 7 billion people on this planet, 42% are younger than me. And they will have children. Will they get to have grandchildren?
We, a constituency unto ourselves cannot leave it up to the present generation of politicians and policymakers to do all the thinking for us. Part of claiming the future is claiming responsibility and we have to take it. It is up to us, not only to move our existing leaders towards decarbonising, but towards doing so without compromising on the aspirational goals of the 689 million people estimated to be living in poverty. We cannot tell a man who has never seen electricity in his village that he must wait for renewables to come online before he can switch on a light in his home. And we must convince the central heating, gas-guzzling West to do with less.
It will be a delicate balancing act, but it is a challenge that the human race is ready for if we can just choose to channel our considerable resources towards this one goal. It will be well worth the effort if we can tell a Maldivian that he doesn’t have to abandon his home, or a Coal Miner in rural India that he will be given training and work in a newer, safer industry.
Maybe Greta gets it.
It is only through a concerted, consistent and coordinated political effort that we can begin to truly undertake the mammoth task before us and secure a future where we can not only live, but thrive.
Maybe we need a Climate Strike to make that happen.