“Americans are finally beginning waking up to the existential threat that the climate emergency poses to our society.”
“It’s young people that have been primarily responsible for that.”
As the climate is changing, so are the winds.
And it is this country’s youth leading that change.
Leading the charge is a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg (pronounced TUNE-berry).
A Senate climate crisis task force this week praised young activists for being so outspoken about the climate crisis. Thunberg, however, made it clear to lawmakers she was not interested in their platitudes, saying:
“Please save your praise. We don’t want it. Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it because it doesn’t lead to anything.
“If you want advice for what you should do, invite scientists, ask scientists for their expertise. We don’t want to be heard. We want the science to be heard.”
Thunberg pulled no punches when articulating the urgency the present climate crisis presents.
Highlighting the fact there is no more time for dithering and our politicians are failing to adequately address the climate emergency, Thunberg scolded:
“I know you are trying but just not hard enough. Sorry.”
“We need your leadership. Young people are the army politically, which has arrived in the United States. You put a spotlight on this issue in a way that it has never been before. And that is creating a new X factor. We hear you. We hear what you’re saying and we will redouble our efforts.”
It is those young people set to participate Friday in the largest climate protest yet.
14-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor, who has been protesting outside United Nations headquarters every Friday since December, said:
“This is going to be the largest mobilization for climate action in history. World leaders can either listen now or listen later because our voice is only going to get louder as the climate crisis gets more urgent. Adults need to step up and support us. Civil disobedience breaks the system and once it’s broken it’s an amazing opportunity to make things better.”
A tepid approach to an environmental emergency is not an option.
In an interview with Covering Climate Now, The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review’s major new project including more than 250 global media outlets committed to improving climate crisis coverage ahead of next week’s U.N. Climate Action Summit, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said:
“Governments always follow public opinion, everywhere in the world, sooner or later. And so…we need to keep telling the truth to people and be confident that the political system, especially democratic political systems, will in the end deliver.”
One of Covering Climate Now co-founders, Mark Hertsgaard, co-author of “A New Beginning for Climate Reporting” and environment correspondent and investigative editor for The Nation, stated during an interview this week on Democracy Now!:
“About 70%, 69%, of the American people expect that the next president takes serious climate action. There’s 56% of the public wants action right now, and another 13% want action in the next few years, meaning in the term of the incoming president. That is a very striking number that I think politicians in both parties need to be paying attention to.”
This means it’s up to all of us to apply pressure on our legislators to get moving on aggressive climate policies such as that outlined in the Green New Deal, which calls for, among other benefits:
- Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030;
- Completely decarbonizing by 2050;
- Creating 20 million jobs, ending unemployment;
- Investing $16.3 trillion in public infrastructure;
- Declaring climate change a national emergency;
- Investing in ecologically regenerative and sustainable agriculture that will support small family farms;
- Investing heavily in research and development;
- Investing in conservation and public lands.
Nothing will escape climate change’s ravages.
International borders, economies, food and water supplies, health, education, transportation, energy sources, are all predicted to change with the climate as the planet warms faster than scientists predicted.
According to Michael Mann, esteemed Pennsylvania State University professor and director of the Earth Science Systems Science Center, the IPCC’s assessment is actually conservative, underestimating the amount of warming that has already occurred.
We actually have less carbon left to burn if we wish to avoid the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold the IPCC report cites.
We have already passed too many tipping points to avoid some of the climate’s most devastating effects, and many scientists theorize the world has begun a sixth mass extinction.
It only means the future of our planet, our children, grandchildren, and beyond.
Once it’s over, it’s over.
Image credit: gaiakosovo.org