Recycle! Go Green! Protect our Forests! Save the Earth!
We have all heard these words for years- some of us grew up with them from Elementary, or Primary, school- but some people couldn’t care less. They do not see the impact of deforestation, poor waste or water management, and the still-rising carbon emissions, in their personal lives and thus don’t see why they should pay attention to the matter. There would always be someone to clean the mess, right- if any? Well, the youths of the world have had enough of this laziness. Triggered by 16 year old Swedish Greta Thunberg’s strike in 2018 in front of the Swedish Parliamentary Building, Sweden and the rest of the world were moved to support her actions; consequently, “School Strike for Climate” and “Fridays for Future” were born. After the first global youth-led strike on Friday, March 15th 2019 with a turn-out of over 1.6 million across 133 nations, two subsequent global school strikes are scheduled to turn the world on its head once again on September 20th and 27th 2019 as a source of pressure to governments, leaders, and nations across the world, to take more drastic climate change actions.
Before Greta: Modern Green Movement Origins
While it is said that the seeds of the green movement were planted in Europe, many will teach that it took off and established its presence in the world in America. Of course, this is not to say mankind started appreciating the economic and spiritual gains of the environment in the 17-18th Century. In the past, many Asian farming communities practiced soil conservation through innovated framing techniques, the Medieval Era had many European nations practicing the basic principles of sustainable forestry management (especially in Germany, France, and England), and ancient India is a great example of how mankind is conscious of nature’s importance and indivisibility from people through the 2003 translation of the Jatakamala, an anthology of tales recounting Buddha’s previous lives. The ancient Sanskrit literature held a strong sense of environmentalism and in its tales of nature, beast, and man, hinted at a human-like similarity across the board which validated reincarnation; upholding the belief that unity encompassed both human and non-human existences. Long story short, not one person, nation, or culture can deny the importance of an intact- and thriving- ecosystem to the human society.
America became the source of modern environmentalism due to the immigrants of the colonialism era and the vast natural beauty and resources of the land. The Industrial Revolution affected the world, sending ripples through economies and across geographies in the 1700s, and while it led to a socio-economic boom, it involved uncontrolled lumbering and heavy use of fossil fuels. These resulted in air and water pollution, disappearing farm land and forestry, and the destruction of beautiful landscapes and ecosystems. The 1800s thence came with widespread realization of the extent of wreckage occurring, and the earliest efforts in modern history to manage natural resources. It involved preserving and protecting the wilderness while looking out for public and individual health. Thereafter the 1900s witnessed an established Green Movement which is more present than ever today.
Greta’s Effect: “School Strike for Climate Change”
The current movement is inspired by Greta illegally skipping school in Sweden to sit at Parliament in Stockholm in protest to the climate change and the nation’s complacency towards it- politically and culturally. She was 15 at the time. The leaflets in front of her explained her intentions as follows:
“We kids most often don’t do what you tell us to do. We do as you do. And since you grown-ups don’t give a shit about my future, I won’t either. My name is Greta and I’m in ninth grade. And I refuse school for the climate until the Swedish general election”.
She skipped school for 3 weeks with many others every single day in August and she now focuses on striking every Friday instead. Greta, and all with her, fight to convince governments to abide by the Paris Agreement, and in gaining the media and country’s attention, Greta returned the topic of climate change to the nation’s conversation a mere 2 weeks before the elections in 2018. To those who don’t know, the Paris Agreement aims improve national capacities to deal with climate change impacts and “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius”.
Greta’s story is proof of the inspiring hope the youth are in society and their weight of influence with numbers. For the upcoming September strike by college students and younger, more adults are expected to join the youth from family members, political and scientific field leaders, religious leaders, and more.
September 20th and 27th: When to Expect it
The sustained united strikes will be on-going as from the 20th for a week with various activities schedule among the registered strike groups. The two dates are simply markers because of their main targets: the strike of 20th is intending to influence the United Nation’s Emergency Climate Summit, on September 23, in New York. Fridays for Future and Global Climate Strike partners invite everyone to join them on Friday, September 20 and on the following Friday, September 27, when they will join Earth Strike for a general strike; and onwards.
Referring to the success of the first global strike in March 15th and 24th, this second global call might be much larger- we’re taking total control over news here—globally. The prior ones shook Australia, Korea, Hong Kong, Sweden, Germany, America, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and Britain, to name a few, and many organizations have registered strikes in Kenya for the week. If interested in participating, supporting, or starting your own strike at your church, school, workplace, or community, go to https://globalclimatestrike.net/ to fill in the respective forms and learn how you can be a part of the current green movement.
September 20th and 27th: What to Expect
The plan is to disrupt society: leave school, leave work, and leave your typical Friday agenda to walk with the millions of students and youths who have been skipping school every Friday around the world. At the moment, groups in more than 100 countries are preparing for September and there are various ways the agenda can be pushed: some might gather before government buildings, before companies which mine, support, plan for, or catalyze fracking, lumbering, use of fossil fuels, littering, etc.; the banks which support the previously mentioned, or raising awareness in their communities while pushing for viable solutions in the name of climate justice and equity for all.
For those who cannot avail themselves for the various events planned, support the youths in any way possible, strike your bells in your churches, read and share what you know and learn about climate change, freeze your school or workplace clocks and share the photo in social media to show your stance, and learn how you, your friends, and family can live a greener lifestyle. Follow the hash-tag and discussions on climate change and the strike such as #ClimateStrike #FridaysforFuture #ThisisZeroHour and share their posts in your circles. Let us all increase our understanding on the world’s state and get involved for a better future in Kenya and the World.
By: Ann Yebei