The science is unequivocally clear, we have close to 11 years to save this planet from catastrophe which will change everything we know about our tiny world.Our politics, economics, democracies, life, society, everything is going to be questioned. We will witness massive migrations, civil wars, collapse of entire ecosystems, extreme weather conditions like massive hurricanes, cyclones, wildfires, droughts, heatwaves etc. This catastrophe is called the climate change, or should we call it a climate emergency. An emergency which cannot be ignored any longer and yet “we are sleepwalking towards the edge of the cliff”.
Scientists say we are heading towards the six mass extinction, where the planet will no longer be habitable to live in. Climate change is considered as an existential threat, earned by our own hands by unleashing the idea of endless growth, by a project of colonization of Earth, where a civilization wanted to become the superior race, eco fascists if we can call ourselves.
But even after all this we still choose to hit the snooze button and sleep comfortably in our fantasy of capitalist Utopia, binging on Netflix the dystopia of zombies, AI, Fascists, while traveling in Ola and paying through Paytm. But not everyone is willing to volunteer for this euthanasia. Some people are willing to fight, willing to risk it all, to try and win this race against time.
In a series of articles I wish to write about the new generation of evironmental movements cropping up led by young people with enormous courage and will. This is the first article of the series.
The first movement I wish to talk about is Fridays for future. A global phenomenon which is bringing people to streets in millions. The last count was 6 million in the week which was touted as global week for future from 20-27 September 2019. These protests took place in around 4,500 locations in more than 150 countries. But all this started because of the unflinching courage of one girl with Asperger’s syndrome, Greta Thunberg.
Greta was eight when she learned about climate change, she became so obsessed with the issue of climate change and why no one is doing anything about it that she went into depression at the age of 11. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because of this syndrome she says, “almost everything is black or white. We aren’t very good at lying, and we usually don’t enjoy participating in this social game that the rest of you seem so fond of.” She started making changes at home from turning vegan to asking her parents not to travel by air.
Finally, at the age of fifteen, when usually kids are obsessed with the social media platforms, she started sitting in front of the swedish parliament on every Friday, bunking school with a placard which read “Skol Strejk för klimatet” (“school strike for climate”), it was August 20, 2018. Slowly, people started noticing this small girl and started joining her every Friday. This spread like wildfire across every continent in the planet. Students started to bunk schools on Friday and went in front of their parliaments and Town Halls demanding action, this finally lead to the Fridays for future movement. She was invited UN climate change conference, world economic forum, British, French and European parliaments. In world economic forum when she said” I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel everyday. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is”, it made headlines everywhere and instilled hope in new generation to talk truth to power. She was nominated for nobel peace prize,but wasn’t awarded for the obvious reason. She was the Time, person of the year, in 2019.
The movement Fridays for future simply wants the political leaders to take actions to prevent climate change and to shift our energy resources from fossil fuels to renewable sources. To listen to the scientists and cut their emissions by half in the next 11 years. One of the ways they say to achieve this target is to introduce carbon taxes. They are asking for a future where the next generation can live in compatibility with nature. They are mobilising the students from every country to be part of a global network of youth who wish to make this world a better place to live. Over the last year they were able to successfully organize climate camps, congress and climate strikes. They have a chapter in India as well, trying to create awareness among the youth about the impending crisis.
In this moment of despair when the world is slowly slipping towards authoritarianism, majoritarianism, where the state works only for a handful of people, while the rest of the people are left to die, movements like these give us glimmers of hope in humanity’s power to fight back. To ask for social justice and a world for everyone.
( Note: This is the first article in the series on environmental movements led by the young.)