Late last year saw the rise to prominence of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swede who was striking from school every Friday, sat outside the Swedish Parliament buildings, protesting her government’s policies on climate change.
Her movement spread across Europe, and last month reached the Isle of Man, with a small number of students outside Port Erin commissioners and Tynwald. However, this Friday will see a much larger strike taking place, with students from all of the island’s high schools and many of its primaries striking at lunchtime outside Tynwald.
But shouldn’t you be in school?
Well yes, that’s the point. Many of us believe that there is no point in coming to school if we don’t have any prospects of a future in which we will be able to get stable jobs, which is, after all, the purpose of education. The government has known about climate change since way before most of us were even born, and yet still the Island generates 99% of its energy from non-renewables. Our Environment Minister, Geoffrey Boot, even said that “I’m not a climate change sceptic, but I am practical” when he was asked about funding climate research. Mr Boot has also prioritised the drilling for natural gas by Crogga off Maughold Head over any impacts it may have on the environment. This hardly sounds like the words of a department who have the younger generations best interests at heart.
Why do people keep mentioning 12 years?
In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report detailing the risks of Climate Change. In their report they said that we had 12 years to make “urgent and unprecedented” changes to keep global warming below a 1.5 °C rise from pre-industrial levels. Failure to do this could result in major sea level rises, droughts, coral death, and irreversible damage to the Earth’s ecosystem. These events can have other impacts too, such as the inevitable need for other countries to take in refugees. If sea level predictions are right, there will be over 200 million displaced people to rehome, and considering the mostly negative response to the potential of rehoming 25 Syrian refugees on the Island, I can’t imagine there is going to be a lot of support for possibly thousands of climate refugees who need our help.
The Isle of Man is a UNESCO biosphere, though – what more can we do?
The island has a target of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Unfortunately, this is going to be a too-little, too-late scenario, as the 12-year 2030 target will have well passed by this point and climate change will be irreversible. I accept that we are not a large country, however we all need to play our part in this issue, and hopefully we can be the inspiration to larger countries to reduce their own carbon emissions.
But doesn’t Mr Boot have a point – will it not be expensive to fight climate change?
If we’re going to take this seriously then yes, there’s no denying that dealing with climate change could be expensive, however the IPCC also mentioned in their report that it is well worth investing in now as short-term loss will lead to long-term gain.
Hasn’t the climate changed before though?
This is by far the most common question I get about global warming. 95% of climate scientists believe that climate change is caused by the activities of humans. The climate has changed before, yes, however the changes have been miniscule compared to what has happened over the last 50 years and can often be attributed to causes that we cannot link to current climate changes, such as high levels of volcanic activity and changes to the Earth’s orbit.
I want to get involved – how can I help?
If you’re a student (and even if you’re not!), you can join the strike on Friday – simply search ‘Student Strike for Climate IOM’ and all the details are there. Any questions, and you can email [email protected]
Even if you can’t make the strike you can still make a difference – write to your MHK, walk to work, turn down the heating – and your children will thank you for it.