Students and protesters encourage headmasters to back lessons on climate change

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Extinction Rebellion protest in London April 2019.

There’s been a two-pronged attack on climate change recently. Firstly there is a 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, whose climate change activism began when she was a solitary figure pursuing a vigil outside Sweden’s parliament in Stockholm. Then last month about 1.4 million students joined her call for school strikes worldwide.

Extinction Rebellion protest London April 2019.
Extinction Rebellion protests London. Photo: Reuters via BBC

This followed Greta’s desire to come to the UK and join in and speak at a rally in Marble Arch this evening. I’m referring to the Extinction Rebellion protest in the middle of London which has resulted in over 700 arrests. The police have been swamped and are unable to cope with the number of protesters who are prepared to be arrested. Apparently the protesters select people who they believe are able to be arrested without damaging the lifestyle or future prospects. The aim: to swam the police force and neuter their effectiveness.

Chris Packham has called upon his fellow TV nature presenters to join the climate protests. He believe that high profile individuals and celebrities should be supporting the protest in Central London.

Because of these events i.e. the Extinction Rebellion protest and the school student protests, headmasters in the UK are, I believe, going to support plans for compulsory climate change lessons in primary and secondary schools. The lessons apparently include teaching children to produce protest letters and banners.

In a Newcastle school the head boy was excluded after it was found out that he had coordinated a school strike over climate change weeks before his A-levels.

The idea of climate change lessons is predicted to be supported by the headteacher’s conference. The idea is that it allows students to channel their passions into protesting against climate change but in a way which is acceptable and does not damage their school schedule. In the past, families have been fined because their children have taken unauthorised absence to attend protests about climate change.

There are polarised views about protesting against climate change. A lot of people see the protesters as a nuisance, Beatniks and layabouts who simply want to cause trouble. Others see these young people, many of whom are middle-class, as doing courageous and valuable work in highlighting climate change. It is being talked about extensively in the UK at the moment thanks to this protest. It is a balancing act between the disruption caused by the protest and advantages that come from the protest namely generating a discussion about climate change which can only be a good thing.

Younger people have perceived a lack a will, commitment and desire to tackle climate change among the monied elite and politicians (the same thing?) whereas young people see their future being blighted by it and therefore have the motivation and the desire to make a stand against it. It’s a question of kids leading the adults on something which is critical to the future of humankind.

David Attenborough has said that we have 10 years to change our lifestyles to reduced carbon dioxide emissions and in effect save the planet. Sir David Attenborough obviously believes that climate change exists. Trump does not. While Attenborough was saying those very words, the Indian government was saying that they can make no changes to, for example, coal fired power stations within the next 10 years. And China contributes 32% of the total world carbon dioxide emissions. The UK contributes 1% but can do better.

More pressure needs to be placed upon China (and India) to take action against producing excessively high carbon dioxide emissions. I was disappointed that Pres. Trump of America did not take the opportunity when discussing trading sanctions to bring into the discussion carbon dioxide emissions in China. China likes to keep the cost of engineering are manufactured down. To achieve this they maintain coal-fired power stations which are cheaper to run but more damaging to the environment. It is time that China stepped up to the plate and introduced more environmentally friendly industries.

You can’t say that this not the time to enter the modern age with respect to manufacturing. China has caught up with the rest of the world. They cannot now claim that they have the right to pollute the environment while they catch up economically.