Environment: The Last Wake-up Call

We have all used alarm clocks/alarm tool in our mobile phones to wake up for some important event or to go to school/work on time, right? If you belong to the normal category of humans, I’m assuming you have used that ‘snooze button’ one too many times? Yeah, me too. 😀 But there is always that ‘eleventh hour’ beyond which you shouldn’t press the snooze button, because if you do, you end up missing your big day or event. I believe Greta Thunberg’s call for climate strikes worldwide is that last wakeup call you or I shouldn’t ignore.

“Some say I should be in school. But why should any young person be made to study for a future when no one is doing enough to save that future? What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts given by the finest scientists are ignored by our politicians?” – Greta Thunberg

If you don’t know who Greta is, I highly recommend you to read her Wikipedia link or social media profiles. She is a 16-year-old student/environmental activist from Sweden who started the ‘Fridays for future’ movement. On 20 August 2018, when she was just 15-years-old, she skipped school and staged a one-person protest every day for three weeks during school hours (from 08:00hr to 15:00hr) in front of Riksdag(the national legislature and the supreme decision-making body of Sweden) with the sign ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate)’.

What started as an individual’s protest, is now a worldwide movement covering 170 countries and 6383 events so far(as on 09/26/2019). You can also join her movement by signing in to fridaysforfuture.org, participating in a climate strike in your locality/leading one and uploading the photographs of the event on her website. Students, workers, parents; everybody is invited to join this movement.

“I want you to act as if the house was on fire—because it is”. – Greta Thunberg

One objective she has been repeating in all the venues where she talked is the need to declare climate crisis as an emergency. Take measures as if your house is on fire because it is. She wants everybody including common citizens like us and policymakers to come forward and tackle the climate crisis. As an emergency step, she urges all governments to make the necessary policy changes to align with the requirements of Paris agreement at the earliest. Here’s what she has to say about this:

One of the major objectives includes reducing the carbon emissions to such an extent that global warming is reduced to 1.5 degree Celsius annually. For this target to be remotely possible, fossil fuels should remain in the soil. Sounds like a serious issue that needs immediate attention? Not to our world leaders, especially the ones who think climate change is a “myth”.

“You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time” – Greta Thunberg, Instagram post, 27 -04-2019

Greta urges the leaders to listen to their scientists, pointing out that “according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes.” #unitebehindthescience

Despite the huge amount of support, appreciation and personal criticisms that have come her way, Greta stands firm on her mission to tackle the climate crisis. She hasn’t missed her #fridayforfuture strikes even on holidays or on harsh days, because she knows climate changes doesn’t go on holidays, so she shouldn’t either.

At an individual level, her commitments to low carbon emissions have led her to take severe measures like:

  1. She has vowed not to use air travel unless it’s an extreme emergency. Because every time we fly we are stealing from the carbon emission budgets of future generations. If you think she is pulling a joke, here is a fact to prove her commitment: she refused her nomination to #childrensclimateprize on Nov 1 2018, because she didn’t want to fly there to participate in the event. To attend ‘the UN Climate Summit in New York on September 2019’ and ‘UN Conference of Parties(COP25) to be held in Santiago de Chile on December 2019’; she took a sabbatical year from school, but still faced the issue of how to cross the Atlantic ocean to reach her venues. In the end, she was offered a free ride on the 60ft racing boat Malizia II to reach the venue of UN Climate Summit. The irony is, this 16-year-old student took a sabbatical year from school and travelled in a zero-carbon yacht to reach the venue to address and urge world leaders, most of whom took individual flights to be at the conference, to take climate crisis more seriously. No wonder she asked in her speech, #HowDareYou.
  2. She doesn’t eat meat and dairy products. If you followed the news on Amazon fires, you might have already read about the relevance of reducing our intake of dairy and meat products for saving our environment. Not only are we assaulting the animals but in most countries, large tracts of forest land is cleared using primitive methods like ‘slash and burn’ to use them as agricultural farmlands. If we need to save our planets, we need to convert a considerable amount of farmlands to forests, this, in turn, necessitates the need for intensive farming in smaller regions of farmlands.

Clearly, she is not a hypocrite like some of our global leaders or most of us(me included), who ‘talks, talks and talks’ but never ‘walks the talk’. But some of the leaders tried to criticize her for her illnesses: autism(she is suffering from Asperger’s syndrome), OCD, selective mutism and her past experiences with anxiety and depression. Greta has a reply for them too. “When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you are winning.” She doesn’t believe being autistic is making her weak now. It used to bring her down before. But now that she has a meaning in life, a purpose to look forward to, she feels autism is no longer her weakness but her superpower.

To parents with children(who are supposed to live in a future filled with the effects of climate changes) and all adults who didn’t do enough(otherwise Greta and all her student-supporters worldwide needn’t have missed their lessons to teach us that one lesson that we chose to ignore),Greta has a question. #HowDareYou.

What are you doing to tackle the biggest global crisis in the history of mankind? What are you doing in order to tackle the most difficult existential crisis we have ever faced? If we had done our part, these kids could have concentrated on their education and dreams now. Greta could have gone back to her home, studied, spent her spare time with her dogs, in her little vegetable garden or go for boating; things she used to enjoy doing before climate strikes made her extremely busy. Scroll down to her earliest Instagram posts and you will feel guilty for being responsible for destroying her childhood. It’s true what they say, we should allow each child to be a child for as long as we can. But what are we leaving our future generations with?

I hope this article inspires you enough to act.  That is what all climate strikers across the globe are hoping for. A world that acts and does not ignore. A world that cares. A world that gives the best fight to prevent mass extinctions even though we are in the failing side now.  Don’t snooze this wake-up call. By the time the alarm rings next, it might be too late for you to help and for them to be benefitted by it.

A note to the reader – Let me know in the comments if you think any facts in this blog is incorrect. Please provide references also. I will correct them. Thank you. 🙂

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