“There is no grey area when it comes to survival. That’s why young people are striking in every corner of the globe, and it’s why we are asking that older people join us on the streets too.”
– 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and fellow students
The SMA Communications Officer attended the Irish School Children’s Climate Strike last Friday, 15 March 2019, in Dublin. It was an emotional experience when it became clear that some 10,000+ young people descended on Kildare Street to make their voices heard by the politicians in Dail Eireann. Many thousands more rallied across the island to the call of fellow teenager Greta Thunberg from Sweden.
It is clear that something significant is happening. Later the SMA Communications Officer asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if this might be the beginning of the end of Civil War politics in Ireland. One hopes so.
These are the leaders of the future and they conducted themselves with immense dignity, supported by teachers, parents and sympathetic adults. It was a wonderful racial and multi faith mix, interspersed with Climate Action demands as well as great good humour.
What an amazing young woman Greta Thunberg is to have sparked this global children’s movement. If she gets the Nobel Peace Prize this year or next, it will be for all the young people rising up to call the adult world to account, for we have surely failed future generations by our disregard for the planet.
“We are unstoppable. Another world is possible.”
That was the message of the youth-led School Strike for Climate Action on Friday as hundreds of thousands of students across the globe walked out of class and flooded the streets to demand immediate action against the ecological crisis, which threatens to render the planet uninhabitable for future generations.
Students from more than 130 countries on every continent participated. Their movement comes as scientists are calling for an urgent and a massively upscaled response.
Over 2000 demonstrations, involving more than 1 million students, took place across the planet.
Since 2013 the SMA Justice, Laity and Communications Departments have been actively engaged in raising awareness about Climate Justice amongst thousands of Irish school children through our Thumbprint Campaign. Friday was a day in which many of the students who have participated in the campaign took to the streets.
Young people understand the urgency better than we adults. They are not burdened with narrow political loyalties or the hollow rhetoric that often passes as leadership from the adult world.
If 16-year-old Greta Thunberg is their model, then they have a leader of substance who might yet be given the accolade of the Nobel Peace Prize for inspiring her youth-led movement to save the planet.
Young people participating in Irish demonstrations were conscious that they were part of a much bigger movement and their enthusiasm was palpable and inspiring. They knew that the Dublin march was one of several across Ireland and they in turn were part of hundreds, indeed thousands of demonstrations, from Cork to Copenhagan, from London to Lusaka, from Beirut to Jerusalem and from Shanghai to Mumbai — all emphasising that politicians had failed them.
Greta Thunberg and several leaders of the youth movement published a letter in the Guardian on the day of the strike in which they wrote:
“We’ve seen years of negotiations, pathetic deals on climate change, fossil fuel companies being given free rein to carve open our lands, drill beneath our soils, and burn away our futures for their profit.
“Politicians have known the truth about climate change, and they’ve willingly handed over our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence.
“There is no grey area when it comes to survival,” declared Thunberg and her fellow youth climate leaders. “That’s why young people are striking in every corner of the globe, and it’s why we are asking that older people join us on the streets too.”
It is precisely because of this I asked Minister Bruton if this marked the end of Civil War politics. He seemed confused by my question, failing to grasp that this is a movement that is forward looking, not based on historical rhetoric.
We are, indeed, the Genesis Generation. If we survive, it will largely be because of this movement and we will have our children to thank for saving themselves and their offspring.
Below we offer you the opportunity to listen to then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg’s challenging 3 minute address to world leaders at UN Climate Change COP24 in Katowice, Poland, last December.