Kids Who Care

II’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news. Because I prefer dessert to the main course, I’ll start with the bad news first.

A report from the United Nations earlier this month has this news for the future of the planet.
– The area of urban areas around the world has doubled since 1992 and has resulted in paved roads, parking lots and millions of buildings taking away from fields and forests which, in turn, affect runoff and soil erosion.
– Between 2002 and 2013, over a thousand environmental activities and journalists were killed and it’s probable that their deaths were ordered by people whose bank accounts were being affected by their demands and their stories.
– 50% of live coral reefs have been lost since the 1870s. Coral reefs provide breeding grounds for thousands of fish species.
– 100% increase since 1980 in greenhouse gas emissions, raising average global temperature by at least 0.7 degrees.

Now for some good news about our home, Mother Earth. There is now a movement by the young people around the world to save their future and ours too. They are disgusted with the apathy of adults, the dishonesty of politicians, and the influence of huge companies.

Last Friday, hundreds of thousands of students around the world walked out of their schools and colleges demanding governments and big corporations take immediate and drastic action to solve the climate crisis. According to event organizers Fridays for Future, over 1664 cities across 125 countries participated. And this started with a fifteen-year-old student in Sweden.

Always remember that one person can make a huge difference; to another person, to their village or to their world. Take Greta Thurnberg who lives in Stockholm, Sweden. Over the last nine months, she has created an international climate movement that includes hundreds of thousands of young people around the world.

It began when she was eleven and studying climate change in school. Learning about the probable future of the planet, she became depressed. “I felt everything was meaningless and there was no point going to school if there was no future,” she said. But now, rather than suffer the pain, she has decided to push back at its cause, channeling her sadness into action. “I promised myself I was going to do everything I could do to make a difference.” And she has!

Greta began her one-person strike outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm last August when she was just fifteen. She decided to continue to demand action until Sweden aligned itself with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

She attributes her determination to her diagnosis of Asperger’s, a mild form of autism spectrum disorder. “It makes me see the world differently. I see through lies more easily,” she says. “I don’t like compromising. For me, it’s either you are sustainable or not — you can’t be a little bit sustainable.” Her openness about her diagnosis, and willingness to share about her experiences of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, are another reason why many see Thunberg as a role model. “To be different is not a weakness. It’s a strength in many ways because you stand out from the crowd.”

The world is listening. Organizers estimate that on 15 March, the first strike by the kids, a remarkable 1.6 million people participated in a climate strike inspired by Thunberg’s solo action—mostly students who walked out of school for a few minutes, an hour or a full day of protest. Since then, the walkouts have continued, with students around the world united by the #FridaysForFuture and #YouthStrike4Climate hashtags. As well as spreading across Europe, the U.S. and Australia, students in countries south of the equator who are experiencing severe effects of climate change such as Brazil, Uganda, and India have taken action too. In the words of Parkland student Emma González, Thunberg’s way of “inspiring steadfast students and shaming apathetic adults” has turned her single idea into a worldwide movement.

Greta Thunberg has a goal to save her future and ours from a warming planet, and she has a plan of how to do it. Now is the time for all people, especially the young, to upset the current system and use a better one. The whole world depends on it.
Sadly, as far as I know, the students of Puerto Vallarta were missing in action in the marches for change in three months ago and, again, last Friday. Do they not know or do they not care?

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.
He splits his time between Puerto Vallarta and Lethbridge, Alberta. In the winter months he writes for the IFC, this summer he’s focusing his writing on the environment.