How has Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish student, managed to make the entire world aware of the ‘climate crisis’ we are facing; when other long standing environmental groups, which have been campaigning for decades, have not been heard?
Climate change, environmentalism & the phrase ‘Climate crisis’ spearheaded by climate activist Greta Thunberg; has hit the media headlines in swathes over the past fortnight. With the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ group having held the city of London to ransom, demanding dialogue be had in Parliament about the climate crisis, the 6th World Congress on Climate Change & Global Warming having taken place in Vancouver, Canada 24 – 25 April & Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish environmental activist addressing world leaders & asking them to listen to the climate Scientists; finally climate change issues are now being brought to the attention of the masses.
For so very many years, action groups like Greenpeace, founded in 1971, have been diligently fighting the climate cause. However, not everyone has agreed with their methods & there have been issues with extremism losing sight of the end game, that being, protecting planet Earth. ‘Friends of the Earth’ an international network of environmentalists having been campaigning for over 48 years, have had the same agenda’s as we are suddenly seeing from Greta Thunberg & the Climate Strike Movement amongst school/college students & the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ group.
On Monday 24 April 2019, in recognition of the protesting in central London, the Rt Hon Claire Perry, The Minister of State for Energy & Clean Growth, made an oral statement in the House of Commons about the climate change protests.
“Colleagues will be aware that public concern about climate change has grown to levels never seen before. In recent weeks, it has been incredibly powerful to see people of all generations across the world voicing their concerns about a warming climate and demanding a global response to this global crisis.
There is no doubt that climate change is the most profound environmental challenge facing the world today – and one where more action is urgently needed. We should not shy away from that fact; we must recognise the fact and I think should welcome the strong and growing pressure for more action to cut our emissions. But we should also ensure that while we acknowledge the scale of the challenge ahead, we do try as hard as we can to build a consensus around change so that communities across the UK and indeed across the world feel secure, feel optimistic and feel involved in our shifts to decarbonize the economy.” (1)
However, since the IPCC report last year awakened the world with input from hundreds of scientists proving that manmade emissions are having a profound impact on our climate, that we have 12 years to prevent the earth from heating beyond 1.5 degrees & that as a species we need to act upon this now; suddenly climate action has now become a common phrase in global dialogues with many millions looking to their governments & leaders for answers.
As emotions run high & environmentalists are crying out for governmental & industry action; recognition of the fact that everyone has a part to play in changing our mindsets to reflect the needs of the planet, is now something that individuals, communities & nations are acting upon. Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency recently delivered a speech which addresses such needs.
“It’s not really about the hardware in our cities, it’s about the software in our heads. It’s about how we think and behave. While we do need more defences and more resilient infrastructure, we need most of all to work with rather than against nature and to build places and communities which are naturally resilient to a changing climate. And we need to face up to some inconvenient truths: like the fact that some of our communities are in places – eroding coastlines, flood-prone floodplains – which will not be safe or liveable over the long term; and that the best response may ultimately be not to build ever higher walls until the day the waves inevitably come over the top, but to move the communities away from the risk.” Speech by Sir James Bevan, Whitehall and Industry Group, 16 April (extract) (2)
However, one of the key points made by Greta Thunberg in all of her activism, her addressing world leaders, including European Parliament & British Parliament, speaking at COP24 & inciting young people to take action for their futures; is her plea for everyone to listen to the scientists & act on their research.
Not everyone is in support of the global mix of science & natural climate change processes allowing balance to be restored to the planet. At a meeting of the Environment Committee at The European Parliament in Strasbourg on the 16th April, French MEP Françoise Grossetete (EPP) boycotted the meeting, saying that it will only be “innovation and technological progress” that will allow Europe to cut its emissions.
“I reject firmly the declinist, catastrophic, decreasing and anti-nuclear speech held by Greta Thunberg,” the MEP added. (3)
One thing that can be agreed upon by world leaders & scientific research alike, is that pre-industrialised Earth emissions were a fraction of what they are now.
Despite our need as a species to grow, develop & evolve into a technologically driven world; the damage this has done is palpable & we are now hurtling towards a bleak future of exponentially speedy climate change in comparison to the pre-industrialised era. The IPCC addresses this in it’s paper ‘Impacts of 1.5°C of Global Warming on Natural and Human Systems’
‘1.5°C and 2°C Warmer Worlds The global climate has changed relative to the pre-industrial period, and there are multiple lines of evidence that these changes have had impacts on organisms and ecosystems, as well as on human systems and well-being (high confidence). The increase in global mean surface temperature (GMST), which reached 0.87°C in 2006–2015 relative to 1850–1900, has increased the frequency and magnitude of impacts (high confidence), strengthening evidence of how an increase in GMST of 1.5°C or more could impact natural and human systems (1.5°C versus 2°C).
Human-induced global warming has already caused multiple observed changes in the climate system (high confidence). Changes include increases in both land and ocean temperatures, as well as more frequent heatwaves in most land regions (high confidence). There is also high confidence that global warming has resulted in an increase in the frequency and duration of marine heatwaves. Further, there is substantial evidence that human-induced global warming has led to an increase in the frequency, intensity and/or amount of heavy precipitation events at the global scale (medium confidence), as well as an increased risk of drought in the Mediterranean’ (4)
The science of climate change & the IPCC report has made the inhabitants of planet Earth sit up & take notice. However, we are all too aware that the continued damaging impact of deforestation, Co2 emissions & ice caps melting is having a profound affect on vast areas of inhabited lands, affecting entire nations & indigenous peoples alike. As Greta Thunberg said in a recent address to the European Parliament “some parties don’t want me here today because they so desperately don’t want to talk about climate breakdown” but reiterated that “it’s ok if you ignore me but you can’t ignore the science”. (2)
Written by Katy-Jane Mason on behalf of Dolphin N2