16/04/2019 by socialistfight
When Greta Thunberg, then 15 years old, decided not to go to school but begin her sit in outside the Swedish parliament on 20 August 2018 with her sign that read “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (“school strike for climate”), she could not have known the reaction her lone vigil there until the elections on 7 September, would have.
In 2015 there had been school strikes. On 30 November, the first day of the COP21, the UNFCCC Climate Conference in Paris, a “Climate Strike” was organized in over 100 countries; over 50000 people participated.
But her lone vigil received wide publicity and national and international support, including, crucially, from a great number of climate change scientists, who had long recognised the danger now posed to the planet from man-made emissions of gasses, CO2 in particular.
She went back to school and as Wiki tells us she promised, “she would continue to strike every Friday until Sweden aligns with the Paris Agreement. She coined the slogan FridaysForFuture, which gained worldwide attention. She inspired school students across the globe to take part in student strikes.” The success her message achieved is phenomenal and that movement of school students is still growing powerfully.
The reasons that caused the social explosion are manifold. The effective ignoring of the Paris Agreement by the rich countries, the outright denials and vehement opposition of the Trump administration and the frustration of the growing mass of scientists who have been battling in vain for decades against a capitalist establishment which the students correctly understood had only profit for a god.
CO2 is a very dangerous greenhouse gas for global warming, but there was a tipping point and a great fear that beyond a global rise of 2 degrees there could be runaway consequences which could not be controlled. Terry Townsend observes:
“The price of prolonged inaction could be climate catastrophe. If the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets collapse, sea levels could rise by up to 10 meters in the space of a few decades. More moderate melting could slow or shut down the circulation of ocean currents in the North Atlantic, which are responsible for the relatively mild temperatures of Northern Europe.
More recent studies reveal that warming could cause the abrupt release of large quantities of methane — a greenhouse gas 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide — stored in frozen, but quickly thawing, tundra; and this would greatly accelerate the process of warming. There many such “feedback loops” that may greatly speed global warming, all of which are unpredictable.”
But the militancy and determination of the youth who struck school on Fridays in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Colombia, New Zealand, and Uganda gives old revolutionaries new hope. 1.4 million struck school in March.
Youth Strike 4 Climate Change, Extinction Rebellion and Earth Strike and the rest are obviously the hope for the future.
The latter have the most ambitious programme whose plan is for a GLOBAL GENERAL STRIKE beginning September 27. On the anniversary of Silent Spring, the book that kick-started the environmentalist movement.
On 27 Sept. “we begin our General Strike to Save the Planet!” they proudly declare.
Rachel Carson’s 1962 book forced the banning of DDT and other harmful pesticides, a turning point in the war against big business, who fought her furiously but lost that one.
Now the bigger battles are ahead and surely we will conclude with Terry Townsend we must “Change the system, not the climate.” ▲