By B.F. NAGY
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter…Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
About a year ago, 15-year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden learned about the science of climate breakdown and the record breaking melting glaciers, floods, droughts, storms, and forest fires ravaging our world. She fears that the climate crisis is destroying the planet and that her generation will pay the price of our extremely slow shift away from fossil fuels.
She decided to go on strike from school each week, alone in front of the Swedish parliament buildings. She named her action Fridays for Future. At first not many people paid attention, but Greta continued to strike every Friday. One person, with one painted sign.
Gradually people joined her in Stockholm and then in other European cities. It quickly spread around the world, as others who are worried about our climate exercised their right to free speech.
In March of 2019, about 2,200 strikes took place in about 125 countries.
To coincide with the UN Climate Summit in New York City Thunberg declared a week-long climate strike from Sept. 20-27 and travelled by sailboat (she doesn’t use airplanes because they pollute too much) to speak to world leaders at the United Nations in New York. She told them: “The eyes of the world are on you during the Climate Summit.”
Meanwhile in cities around North America and around the world more than four million children left their schools and filled the streets, including 500 students from Adam Beck in the Beach area, who on Sept. 27, marched with their signs down Lawlor to Kingston Road and across Kingston Road to Scarborough Road and up Scarborough Road to Swanwick.
There were 500,000 in Montreal when Greta arrived there that same day, and about 100,000 at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
Thunberg is famous for saying “If you will not act like adults then we children will have to be the adults” and for responding to a British politician suggesting she should be in class: “I’ve done my homework. It’s you who needs to go back to school.”
I attended the school strike in Manhattan on Sept. 20, and some of the UN sessions that followed it. At Battery Park Thunberg told school strikers: “We are not just some young people skipping school. We are a wave of change. Together we are unstoppable.”
Natural disasters are one thing; world health is also a problem.
In the UN sessions on cleaner technology, Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment revealed little known data, saying that about 50 per cent of the world’s food goes to waste, due to poor or unavailable refrigeration.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said at the opening ceremonies that already today in some areas near Los Angeles, leaking gases are connected with high rates of asthma, cancer and poor fertility in the surrounding areas.
The World Health Organization says there are seven million premature deaths from air pollution every year and that by 2030 this could swell ten fold, with one billion displaced climate refugees by 2050.
A hotter planet also means deadly diseases like Malaria and Dengue are already increasing and could explode by tens of millions of cases or more, in the next decade.
Our children are right. Let’s act like adults. Let’s switch to electrified buildings and transportation. Let’s vote for electricity generated by wind, solar and storage batteries.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
– Martin Luther King
BF Nagy is a long time Beach resident and author of a new book, The Clean Energy Age. He has interviewed more than 700 experts and written 180 articles on clean energy. The Clean Energy Age is available online, from your favourite bookseller or bfnagy.com . It contains expert solutions, success stories and top 10 lists of climate actions for homeowners, business managers, government people, and others.