|protesting across London last week|
By New Worker correspondent
On Good Friday around 15 youths – all aged under 17 years old – held a large banner with the words “Are we the last generation” on the pavement outside Heathrow airport in London. A heavy police presence stopped the teenagers from standing on the road.
“I’m Felix, I’m 14 years old. I’m doing this because when I have children I want to be able to tell them I did everything I could to protect their futures.”
“I’m Samar Faraj, I’m 14, and I’m doing this because there are things that need doing that aren’t being done, and in 30 years time, I don’t want to be looking back on this and regretting not doing everything I could do to help prevent the disasters we’re facing.”
Extinction Rebellion Youth is a network for everyone born after 1990: “We are a generation that have never known a stable climate and that will be defined by how the world responds to the climate and ecological crisis.”
“I’m Mia, I’m 13. I’m doing this because something has to change, I’m being told to make decisions about my future when it can’t even be guaranteed the Earth has one.”
“I’m Maya Rivett-Martinez, I’m 15, and the constant fear for my future is what gives me the need for change.”
The campaigning teenagers at London airport were part of the wave of climate change protests that paralysed parts of central London last week in demonstrations called by the Extinction Rebellion movement to attract attention to the ecological catastrophe they believe is imminent if nothing is done to halt it.
The global aviation industry produces two per cent of all human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. If global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters. Unfortunately, the emissions from this industry continue to increase at a truly alarming rate. Parliament has approved a policy for airport expansion. The Government is moving in completely the wrong direction.
Last week the godfather of climate science Dr James Hansen, the American space scientist who first alerted the world to the dangers of climate change more than 30 years ago, sent an open letter to the British people: “I write in recognition that citizens throughout the UK, led increasingly by the young – those who stand to lose most – now are rising to demand that national leaders develop and adhere to a viable path away from calamitous global warming.”
To every parent, and every grandparent, “I urge you in particular to take a stand, so as to not let the full burden of responsibility befall our children. Arm yourself with information of the highest quality, think for yourself, and then exercise your full intellectual and moral capacity to help your nation and our planet survive.
“I have no doubt that the era of fossil fuels is drawing to a close. But questions remain as to the speed of the coming transition and, in direct consequence of that speed, the nature of what will be left in its wake. I cannot answer, in particular, whether our civilisation will survive in any recognisable form the assault on nature and the human dislocation attending loss of our planet’s great coastal cities that we of necessity will confront with continued unarrested climate change.”
In his letter Hansen sets out the truth about the ecological emergency: “The foregoing, accordingly, constitutes my best brief effort to explain our present, serious, global, climate crisis. I will have failed if, upon its review, the reader decides to shirk his or her fundamental responsibility. Now, more than before, we need to bring to bear our full acumen, time, and resources so as to demand and forge a viable future.”
This week, the words of the world’s most respected climate scientist were echoed by wild-life broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough: “If we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies. What happens now and in these next few years will profoundly affect the next few thousand years.”