King Edward VI School student Emma Crossley, 16, says we need to take urgent action about climate change
Today, student strike action comes to sometimes sleepy Bury St Edmunds. Except, at King Edward VI, we decided to give it our own, more positive, spin.
In case you had not heard, today is a UK day of action under the banner of a global movement, YouthStrike4Climate.
It started in August, when Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, held a solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament. Globally, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week are now taking part in 270 towns and cities.
Individual demonstrations have already been held in Britain, but the day of action is expected to see the biggest protests by students and young people in the UK since the 2010 row over the Conservative-LibDem coalition’s university tuition fees.
There have been the usual predictable sniffy headlines from the right-wing press about students just wanting time off lessons. There have been the equally predictable judgements of those who still do not get that man-made climate change is happening and is dangerous.
I could rehearse some of the evidence for the fact that our pumping greenhouse gases into the air and just about everything else we do, is warming the planet dangerously. But, frankly, if you are one of those still ignoring just about every climate scientist and piece of evidence on the planet, well… you are probably on another planet and you might not be reading this. I saw a letter to a newspaper this week, backing students’ action today and it was signed by 224 of the country’s leading experts on the subject.
It might have been fashionable to ignore economic experts back in 2016, at the behest of the Leaver campaign – how is THAT going, by the way – but how can politicians ignore all the science on the climate. Let’s consider. On one side, lots of establishment politicians and their friends, who do very nicely as things are thank you and maybe even run huge gas-guzzling economies. (Yes, him, but I’m not going to mention him by name this week.) Oh, and three per cent of the scientific community. And on the other side, 97 per cent of scientists and most of anyone who has been keeping up with this issue over the past 20 years.
If politicians work on this problem at their pathetic current rate, the words of Sir David Attenborough will come true: “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
So, we are going on strike. What else are we supposed to do?
Well, here at King Edward, we have decided that a strike in the purest sense – while perhaps expressing our feelings best – might not be the most positive response. Sixth-formers will, if they want to, down laptops and pens and attend a talk about climate issues, organised by the school’s Green Committee.
We are exasperated about the lack of meaningful policies to save the environment for future generations, but we feel more education is the most positive action just now. We reserve our right to act more drastically in future.