The power of students protesting climate change

Amy Donohoe

Young climate activist Greta Thunberg.

I never really understood climate change until I started learning about the Paris Agreement in Leaving Cert geography. Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg seemed to understand it and its consequences at the age of 15. Not only that, but she is taking action to make a change.

In August 2018, Thunberg refused to go to school until the Swedish general election in September, asking politicians to take action against climate change. Since then, she has protested outside the Riksdag Parliament building every Friday, sparking the #FridaysForFuture movement. She is now joined by thousands of other students worldwide.

She has led the way, and this movement seems to be gaining more and more traction and attention. I am proud of the youth striking for something so important, but I am ashamed of the governments that aren’t involved and aren’t taking climate change seriously.

This action has fallen into the laps of those whom adults don’t trust to pick their own bedtime or stay unsupervised at lunchtime. The way I see it is that we have a bright and determined future generation that care about the crisis of the climate. They know what they’re fighting for and they will be suffering the consequences when they are adults, so they need to take action now.

Teachers and politicians have been giving out about the children missing school for the protests, but this is a learning experience. Swedish law states that children must be in school unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. When people like David Attenborough are warning that the future of planet is at risk, that should count as an exceptional circumstance.

These same teachers and politicians likely have children which they, no doubt, care deeply about, yet their actions and their inaction are what will destroy their children’s futures.

Governments worldwide appear lazy and uninterested in such a significant matter. Younger people can no longer accept the lack of drastic changes to fight for the future of their planet. There have been too many years of little action against climate change and now change needs to happen.

This protest has been long overdue and it’s heart-breaking to realise it is the children that are making the difference, rather than the “sensible” adults who have the resources, platforms and skills to do so.

Many people are treating this earth like we have a second one to go to, but we don’t. We are borrowing this planet from our children. What are they going to be left with if we keep treating it like this? Some parents say that they would give their child the world, but the world will be worthless to pass on if we don’t start taking better care it.

Many of today’s adults won’t have to worry about what’s happening in about 50 years time. It is my generation, Greta’s generation, and the future generations who will suffer the consequences.

Our children may never know what an elephant or a leopard looks like, because they may become extinct before they’re even born.

I admire Greta Thunberg for taking action and other school strikers for following suit. This movement has begun in Ireland, as politicians have done very little to prevent the effects of climate change, and I hope this movement gets the attention and traction it deserves.

Amy Donohoe

Image credit: CNBC