On the 15th of March 2019, the globe was struck by the protestation of school students, parents and environmental and climate change activists who took to the streets of major cities around the world to march with Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student and pioneer of the school strike movement for political inaction in the face of our environmental catastrophe.
Whether or not scientists agree on the true machinations of climate change, the data, and whether humans are causal catalysis behind this calamity or merely fosterers of it, was irrelevant to this particular march. The protests were fundamentally pointing out the political inaction our current governments are showing in the face of both natural and climate disaster. It is true that some parts of the world are drying up, while others are getting colder and wetter, but Greta Thunberg argues that our politicians are not doing much to interrogate these issues with the attention it deserves, and alleviate it by any means necessary, with whatever capacity humans are able to. There is in fact, a plethora of things we humans can do in a collective effort to mitigate climate and environmental catastrophe, however, our governments are not making it easy. They fail on multiple levels when it comes to this particular collapse as they have no short or long term goals, or practical strategies that are being implemented with the kind of urgency these issues truly require.
This strike, specifically in Perth, pointed out the flaws in the Morrison government and our previous administrations, who failed to address the environmental collapse as though it was an emergency. That concept was fundamentally at the heart of the strikes; the trying fact that the people who are meant to be governing society, are actually lining their pockets with corporate agendas rather than addressing a real problem with real consequences for society both now, and the future.
This strike was not one solely for climate activists – it was one for environmental activists in general, as well as animal rights advocates who have been trying to warn the world of methane emissions and how this contributes to the greenhouse gas effect, for years. There were sign holders present, who also promulgated the rage behind the backwards Adani Coal Mine scheme, which continually destroys oceanic biodiversity and causes both eutrophication and acidification of the oceans we rely on for oxygen and life force. Members of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby as well as activists against deforestation were also present. This was encouraging to see because not only was this a protest that was used to impel politicians into taking direct action, but it was a protest of intellect and information. Practically speaking, the world’s deforestation is not helping the greenhouse gas effect, since out forests (along with the world’s oceanic phytoplankton supply) are the two primary sources of humanity’s dwindling oxygen supply. Plants use carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and produce oxygen, so it is deforestation that is causing half of these climate catastrophes. It was thus inspiring to see this protest being delivered largely by well-informed citizens who were there not only to support the children, wake up the government, but to share information on how to alleviate the issue, which was invaluable.
For the first time in history, several interconnected environmental movements were overlapping, and the variety of activists present within the strike will no doubt, work wonders to put people on the same page so that we can address these issues by taking action, not only by supporting political change and shifting our consumer behaviour and lifestyles to allay deforestation and climate change, but by researching these interconnected issues in depth enough so as to actually solve problems, without (at the same time) causing another. The variety of activists present thus worked wonders to gather society’s collective information of these environmental issues (whether it be deforestation or animal consumption) and then make sure everyone knew that even though our politicians are to be held accountable for inaction, at the end of the day, so are we, as citizens.
The day kicked off on a hot morning at eleven, in front of St Georges Cathedral with masses of people swarming toward the CBD with coloured signs – some humorous, some melancholic and some angry. The crowd was being overlooked by a number of police staff on bikes, in cars and on horses. There were four horses who stood sentry behind the crowd, overlooking the rally. After an hour of musical events by St Georges Cathedral, motivational speeches and protesting practice, the masses began the circle around the Perth CBD at midday, shouting phrases such as ‘no more gas, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil!’ The atmospheric effect of such a large crowd of easily around a few thousand people, was mind-blowing, encouraging and deeply moving. Many onlookers paused to video the event, take pictures and spur on the crowd, knowing it was fighting for humanity’s future.
At the end of the day, even though there is much confusion surrounding the nature of climate change and what scientific, atmospheric, chemical and physical processes are causing it, humanity cannot deny the fact that we have become complacent citizens in the face of protecting the globe that is our home and future. It was inspiring to see young kids take a stand for a global cause, despite Morrison’s view that these issues should be left for the politicians, and kids should remain in school while the adults deal with these problems. One might question the role of education if it does not teach children to take responsibility for these issues themselves, as they are citizens with a voice, just as much as the next adult. It altogether seems like a prudent move for children to realise that those in charge often do not carry out the best interests of the future, largely thinking of short-term goals, corporate contracts, or what will be good for the economy, rather than our actual wellbeing. Besides, the government of the future will be comprised in part, of the very kids protesting in the heart of the CBD, and so for them to place a priority in the environment, their livelihoods and the wellbeing of others, was altogether nothing short of inspiring.
Greta Thunberg, the rising heart behind this protest, has received a Nobel peace prize nomination for her work in spearheading the children’s climate movement, which is much deserved. She stands on behalf of all the children on this planet experiencing injustice due to an environmentally negligent government. It remains, that the least we can do for these children and ourselves is supported them in this fight for their future, by becoming more active voices, making lifestyle and consumer behaviour choices in line with sustainability, and altogether fostering a culture that rises against governmental inadequacy in a responsible, peaceful and intelligent way.
Words by Shamina Rozario