On Friday, the UK’s student population marched out of schools, colleges and universities for the afternoon to voice their concerns over climate change.
It was in response to a movement started by 16-year-old Greta Thunburg, a Swedish student who first made headlines in August last year when she started a school strike which picketed outside the Swedish parliament to raise awareness of global warming. Since then, she’s given a TED talk and a speech to the COP24 United Nations climate change summit.
So on Friday, as the youth of the UK rose up, I was all over social media and news websites trying to get a sense of whether the rest of the UK was applauding or criticising this group.
Obviously there were mixed reactions but there were a few people that captured perfectly why these young people felt compelled to go out and voice their concerns.
On my way home from work, I listened to a news report on the radio and felt a crazy amount of pride surge up inside.
The reason? These students are, on the whole, too young to vote. A large proportion of them are probably also seen as too young to fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation.
That view would be wrong.
Thinking back to my childhood, I remember being stubbornly passionate about the environment…
I thought the world of my geography teachers who passionately taught us about climate change. I felt proud that my family recycled widely. I decided to dress as a 60’s hippy on a costume day at school. And I remember very clearly, telling my grandparents why they shouldn’t buy fuel from a particular petrol company because of their poor environmental ethics, and a recent oil scandal…
I was also, one of the few people in my school who probably felt that strongly at that age. It wasn’t ‘cool’ to talk about things like that, and it definitely wasn’t what most children cared about.
But I like to think, that if this protest had happened when I was at school, I would have had the guts to leave school and go. Because at the end of the day, these kids are the ones who will be living the future our politicians and businesses are weaving for them.
Surely they have a say in what that will look like, even if they aren’t eligible to vote…yet.