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Let Our Voices be Heard

I’m handing this blogpost over to my 12 year old, Sam, who took part in the climate change strikes yesterday. His headteacher asked him to write about his experience and this is his account.

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On Friday 15thFebruary I took part in the #SchoolsStrike4Climate protests in Manchester along with over 10,000 others across the country, to protest against the world leader’s attitudes towards climate change. It felt important to me because the future of our generation and every generation to come is at risk of being destroyed because of the selfishness and greed of the very people who are supposed to be protecting us and putting our communities first. People say children should be obedient and do what they are told, but sometimes you have to be disobedient to be noticed and to make a difference. What is the point in learning about people who broke the rules to change the world, like Rosa Parks or Nelson Mandela if we’re then told that we have no right to break the rules ourselves? Especially when time is so short for us to make the difference that needs to be made.

When Svante Arrhenius, the Swedish scientist, first predicted that burning coal for industry would warm the earth, he saw this as a possible benefit. Of course we now know different, but we’ve known that this warming would be harmful for 50 years now so why have world leaders been so slow to do anything about it? Even though carbon emissions have dropped by 38% since 1973 in the UK, as a planet we are still heading towards what David Attenborough has described as ‘the collapse of our civilisations’. Scientists have warned us that we have only 12 years to avert this. So while we can see that some countries, including our own, have made some changes at home we are still pushing our waste onto other poorer countries and investing in their damaging industries as if we don’t share the same planet at all. In spite of the reductions we’ve made, pollution in our cities and towns is now thought to cause around 39,000 deaths a year. The changes governments have made have not been enough and some governments won’t even admit there is a problem at all. I’m looking at you, Donald Trump! If the governments won’t change, we need to change the governments. This is one of the reasons that the people behind the school strikes are campaigning to reduce the age of voting to 16. If we’re mature enough to sit exams that will dictate our futures, we should be mature enough to vote for the people who will dictate our futures too.

At the point we children will start to make our way in the adult world, the very existence of human kind could be at risk. That’s a terrifying thought for a child and it seems to me that we’re the only ones who seem determined to change that outcome. Even if this does not happen, it’s clear that we are damaging a large number of species in the world at a rate that threatens all kinds of things, including our food supply. A 40% drop in pollenating insects as reported last week in the news, is one worrying sign of how our eco systems are being disrupted. We’re already coming close to the 1.5 degree warming limit that scientists told us would trigger rises in sea levels and catastrophic weather events.

I’m a child. I shouldn’t even have to be writing this stuff. It shouldn’t be the job of young people to protect the world and the people in it. We shouldn’t be having to miss school and take to the streets in order to make adults take notice but this is where we are and I wanted to do my bit. It felt good to be standing there, chanting and singing with hundreds of other people and I’m glad I went if for no other reason than to feel like we were heard.

Will anything change? I don’t know, but I do know that sometimes you need to speak up and take action. Now I think we should be asking our own parents and our teachers to take action too. What can they do to reduce waste and emissions in our homes and schools? What small actions can we take too? Walking to school, using water bottles rather than buying fizzy drinks in plastics, cutting down on the amount of meat we eat, taking short showers rather than baths and perhaps asking for less and making do with what we’ve got. We can all do those things but we need more. We need adults to help us to hold politicians to account for the decisions they make. How can our parents use the votes that we are denied to elect people who will promise to take action for the children they love ? Adults say they care about us and love us. I say love is best shown in action. I care about the planet and the creatures who live on it, including myself. My love was shown in action on Friday.