The youth protests against climate change will work

Common Dreams

Last Friday, 15th of March 2019, a youth protest against the destruction of the climate took place in 123 countries over the world. Done in support of Greta Thunberg, who went in front of the Swedish Parliament every Friday to force the government to reduce carbon emissions, ‘Fridays For Future’ has become a way to show that young people are not satisfied with the way the world is going. With this happening in almost every city of significance, it should be a very uncomfortable situation to for the political establishment. Normally, with these amounts of people outside, it would be a political earthquake. However, this has created just a minor tremble under their feet.

This lack of effect is ludicrous. There is everything needed for a great campaign: empirical evidence, research, ideas for a better future - politicians would typically rush to the nearest park, start hugging trees and saying that they can save our planet. And yet nothing like that has happened. The reason for this is that climate change is not war, and death by global warming is not as visible as a bullet. Even though this young generation feels the need to express their concerns, a part of the older generation feels that nothing is happening. Accompanied by people such as Donald Trump, they claim that this whole issue is a myth. This group of sceptics has a large presence online, mostly on social media, presenting their “bullet-proof” arguments to one another. These arguments mostly boil down to three claims to dismiss the current situation.


The first, and the most popular one, is regarding the age of the protesters. Doubters simply claim that “they will grow up” or argue that it was all just organised to ditch school. But a protest needs to sacrifice, needs to show that there are things which are going to happen if the government does not act. Avoiding school duly makes these protests more powerful than they would otherwise be. Another claim is the argument that protesters still use things which are destructive to our climate, such as cars or planes. However, fighting for the good of the planet does not mean that everyone will start travelling by foot and use a towel instead of toilet paper. Some climate-damaging actions are needed, but improving basic personal actions will help the planet as a whole, for example not using single-use plastic. The final current argument says it all and makes the whole discussion pointless: “Fridays For Future is a marketing move created by adults to make money on children.” This is patently ridiculous: Fridays For Future has banned any speakers from the political spectrum, because politicians should be in the parliament solving the issue that the youth are protesting.

All of these comments have one thing in common; the absence of mentioning ecology. Sceptics show hostility towards climate change and use social stigmas against the protesters, because the topic is secondary. If these protests had been about transgender people, #metoo, or the number of black directors winning film awards, the arguments would be the same. It is not the topic which is discredited, it is the protestors who are raising a topic that critics do not want to discuss. But the youth have the right of it. Their point is correct, and so long as they remain motivated, they will succeed. The more they will be active, the better chance is that there will be more Fridays in the future.