On a bright, uncommonly warm Friday of mid-March, I, together with perhaps twenty other students in my class, joined the worldwide school strike movement “Fridays for Future” to protest against climate change and against our government’s complete inaction towards this unprecedented incoming catastrophe. We were all inspired by one small girl, with a round, benevolent face, and two plaits hanging down over her shoulders accoutred with a thin white wool hat; Greta Thunberg.
“The situation is so hopeless that teenagers are proving to be more responsible than adults” my banner read, in dark, rather abject scarlet letters. These last European elections have proven a surge in Green Parties across our continent. They now hold, in total, 69 seats in the European parliament.
In France, the Greens have gained 13 seats and in Germany, with 22 seats, they have surpassed the historically leading opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), obtaining their best result and taking the second place only behind Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). Moreover, this surge is not only developing in France and Germany, green parties have also made significant progress in countries like Britain (11 seats), Spain (3), Belgium (3), The Netherlands (3) and even Ireland (2).
Why then is there this sudden surge in green politics?
The answer is quite simple; we, the younger generation, beyond social injustice, civil liberties and unemployment, are those who are most worried about the current environmental catastrophe that endangers our future –for we are the ones who will have to face its most dire consequences.
By twenty-fifty I will be forty-eight and who knows what kind of world will be left for me. This is definitely unfair but I’m not going to start crying and whining about climate change and how undeserved it is for us to have inherited such a mess and now because of it have to face such an uncertain future. I’ve heard many teens endorse Greta’s views saying: “It’s useless to continue studying for a future we simply won’t have.” And I agree: of course one can say it’s useless but, what else are we going to do?
I mean just think about being a teenager in the sixties for instance. The world was at the height of the Cold War and the Soviet Union had just pointed its missiles towards the US in Cuba. Nuclear annihilation was undoubtedly an everyday worry. But no crisis, political or environmental, has ever been quite as imminent as this climate catastrophe (according to experts, we have only twelve years left to save our planet.)
By twenty-fifty I will be forty-eight and who knows what kind of world will be left for me.
Fifty years ago, if the world had gotten destroyed by nuclear war, we would have immediately found someone to blame for it; the US and the Soviet Union. But now, if our world is destroyed by plastic and greenhouse emissions, we will also have someone to lay the blame on; ourselves.
One of the main things I desperately wish, speaking as a student, is for Europe to act differently towards this unprecedented catastrophe. I am totally pro-European and appreciate the EU and the peace it has brought to our continent, but I simply demand it to do what it said it was going to do regarding climate chaos. I understand the United States government’s climate denial and its subsequent withdrawal from the Paris agreement, they have Trump as president. But things should be different within the European Union.
If I could have voted in the European elections, it would have probably been for the Greens. Why the greens and not the social democrats or even the liberals? Quite simply because the greens are, at least in my and part of my generation’s eyes, the only party in the EU parliament who actually care about the few issues we care; climate chaos, social justice and the importance of fighting to save our planet.
Many of us have become vegetarians or even vegans. We need to reduce our personal carbon footprint. Meat especially is very pollutant towards the environment (cows emit high amounts of methane that destroys the ozone layer), and pastures deplete rainforests across the globe. Furthermore, I am quite certain that real meat will probably cease to exist in fifty years, for it takes too many resources to raise an animal: they are not energy efficient, to say the least.
Greta Thunberg has become the icon of our generation. She has stated on many occasions that since a very young age she has chosen to stop flying as a game-changing move against global warming.
Her #stayontheground no-flying campaign is an interesting and provocative one. Yet I think it is an excessive measure, for travelling by train and ship (as she does) is extremely slow and may cost significantly more than flying. Instead, hybrid planes should be overtaking the industry.
But Greta is the one who began this ‘quiet revolution’ now becoming loud, and I cannot end this article without saying that I feel great admiration and gratitude towards her for being such a pioneer and raising the world’s awareness upon the fact that we are heading towards a catastrophic climate chaos.
When she was fifteen, with her uncommonly small figure and wide staring eyes, she stood alone in front of the Swedish Parliament holding a carton banner that read “School Strike for Climate.” She didn’t mind being alone in the cold, while the vile wind fretted her banner and reddened her frosty nose.
For weeks and months she skipped school and striked until people started to join her, just having realised that something urgent had to be done in order to stop this calamity. Greta has generated a snowball, and now we’re all in.