The last month has seen a huge rise in media coverage about climate change thanks, largely, to Greta Thunberg, the youth strikes, and Extinction Rebellion’s protests in London.
Our eyes are now firmly focused where they should be and discussions about climate change, local and national action, and individual responsibility are happening on an almost daily basis.
But I want to take a few minutes to look at the criticism of the protests and those participating.
Over the last fortnight, I’ve seen media interviews with protesters where journalists are actually insulting rather than questioning them – telling them that they’re middle-class individuals causing disruption to ordinary people’s lives.
It’s been revealing that the response to this by the protesters has largely been calm and intelligent, explaining the reasoning behind their work and then peacefully moving along.
While I understand that, for many in London, the protest may have been annoying, that’s also the point of a protest.
What impact will a protest ever have if it’s not causing some sort of disruption?
The fact that people are attacking personal attributes for those making a stand is also revealing. By picking on personal traits rather than the message itself, it shows that critics must agree – to some extent – that climate change is a problem as they have no argument to pull apart there.
I was quite surprised to read a few articles about Greta Thunberg being the daughter of a Swedish Eurovision contestant, describing her scathingly and attacking the privileges this must have given her.
She’s a 16-year-old school child. How could adults feel so intimidated by her that they need to attack her upbringing or the life choices of her parents – of which she has no say? My assumption is that this is due to embarrassment.
Embarrassment that a child is holding global leaders, and us, to account over our lack of action on climate change.
But the fact is, we should be applauding her along with the children who have been striking and along with the hundreds of people who took part in the peaceful protests as part of Extinction Rebellion.
Climate change will affect all of us, and some large-scale action does need to be taken. We should thank the protesters for doing something on our behalf and for finally getting the world’s media to focus more on what is a global emergency, instead of wasting pages debating the lack of progress on Brexit or what Kim Kardashian is up to now.
It’s about time we started doing more for our planet collectively rather than as individuals.