Friday, 15 February 2019

Educating Us All on Climate Change

Most of us have accepted the concept of climate change, rather than global warming, as the weather around the globe becomes more extreme. There are still deniers, who appear not to understand basic science, or who point to harsh winters and think that's incompatible with global warming, or who don't believe that the activities of the human race are accelerating a possibly cyclical process.

Here in our village, many of us have solar panels on our roofs, a small contribution to the diminution of fossil fuel use and its subsequent impact on the environment. Of course, the lack of support for public transport means we usually have to drive to get out the village as the buses are few and far between. But we try. At least, some of us do.

Today a number of UK schoolchildren joined a growing global youth protest against the lack of effort being made to do something about climate change. Emission reduction targets are feeble at best, and at worst not even being met. For the younger generations, this has a potentially catastrophic effect, and it is no surprise that they are annoyed at the lazy reactions of an older generation that will have died before the sea levels rise to a significantly destructive level.

Younger people are becoming more mobilised on a number of issues. It is a year since the Parkland shootings in Florida, and thanks in part to the protests led by the survivors of the shooting, 67 bills have been signed in various states, by Republicans and Democrats, to curb gun violence. It's a start, though the Parkland students would ask for more; adolescent hormone-driven emotions and guns are not a good combination.

In the UK, young people have been the driving force behind other protests, not always with noticeable success. Tuition fees still went up, though they have stalled for now. Many young people who want to be part of the EU blame the older generation for the Leave vote, and feel betrayed by people that they think won't be around to reap the whirlwind.

Have young people always been this politically engaged? They were certainly active in the 1960s, and formed part of the protest against the poll tax in . But now they are more organised, and that must be thanks to social media. Today's protesters were asking for the voting age to be lowered to 16, and politicians will have to change their ways radically whether they grant this demand or not. Young people know what they want more than we realise, and they're not afraid to ask for it vociferously.

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