All united to save the planet – World Today’s Climate Strike – 20th September 2019

Art Students from Da Vinci Gallery “Art from the Heart” initiative, with Founder Catherine Timotei, all gathered on Spring day 1st September 2018 to clean up all plastics on Camps Bay beach in Cape Town. All united for climate action to save the planet.

 

This Friday’s school strike, which adults around the world have been asked to join, is the largest mobilisation yet attempted by the youth climate movement launched last year by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. As such, it is an event of international significance.

 

It is the simplicity of the movement’s message, as well as the youth and determination of the protesters, that has made them unignorable. Less than a year ago, the world’s leading climate scientists issued a warning that we are running out of time to avert the worst effects of global heating, which raised anxiety amongst them. Temperatures are continuing to rise and the effects are already punishing, particularly in poorer parts of the world. But increases of more than 1.5 degrees celsius would lead, scientists warn, to food scarcity and water stress for hundreds of millions more people. Heat-related deaths, forest fires and mass displacements by flooding become far more likely in this scenario, while for species including coral the consequence would be extinction.

 

Yet despite these dire warnings and the attempts at decarbonisation overseen since 1988 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world is failing. Carbon emissions in 2018 reached a record high of 37.1bn tonnes. There has been some progress, measurable in pledges by governments and notably a decade of emissions cuts in the EU. The profile of green issues is higher, the cost of renewables is falling fast and public opinion in many countries is shifting. But our path is taking us towards a painful and dangerous future.

 

The climate strikers demand that the world faces these facts. Their aim is to force us to confront a problem that, for far too long, we have found it convenient to ignore. When Greta Thunberg and other young campaigners met US legislators, it was to assert their right to a liveable future, advocating the protection and restoration of ecosystems as a natural climate solution.

 

Without the lost decades of inaction and denial, global heating need never have become the emergency it now is. Many politicians as well as fossil fuel industry executives and lobbyists are deeply culpable. But this Friday is an opportunity to take action – by declaring a climate emergency.

 

The freshness and seriousness of the school strike movement is a reason to hope.