Our planet is currently facing an unprecedented climate crisis and we are now close to the point of no return. The consequences are already showing signs of irreversibility in many parts of the world, and many are now suggesting the abandonment of the term ‘climate change’ in exchange for language that conveys the seriousness of what is happening.
Although the expression ‘climate change’ began to appear around the mid-70s, and in 1988 it was enshrined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the UN, by the end of the 90s it was already competing with the term ‘global warming’, that for many conveyed the changes the planet was undergoing more accurately.
It was with the Republican administration of George W. Bush in the US, advised by Frank Luntz, that the term was shaken up once more: “It’s time we start speaking about climate change rather than global warming, and of conservation rather than preservation. While global warming has catastrophic connotations, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge”.
Today, unfortunately just like back then, climate change deniers are everywhere, including in the heads of some of the most powerful governments of the world.
The UN has convened an emergency summit to occur on the 23rd of September in New York, to discuss the lack of fulfilment of the goals set in the Paris Accords of 2015. A report by the UN from November 2018 revealed that in 2017, instead of falling as had been previously agreed, global carbon emissions rose, and in order to limit global warming to 2 °C, signatory states must triple their current efforts.
Only 57 countries so far have met their compromises, and with the rise of climate sceptic leaders such as Trump in the US and Bolsonaro in Brazil, the challenge is more pressing than ever.
For this reason, young people all over the world are preparing themselves for the Global Climate Strike, that will take place between the 20th and the 27th of September, beginning with an international strike on the first day. Currently, there are strikes planned in 117 countries and more than 1664 cities around the world, and Latin America is no exception.
We present to you some of the fundamental points about the strike to understand how the key figures that are bolstering the movement are and how you can get involved.
Key figures in the Strike
The Strike forms part of the ‘Fridays for Future’ campaign, that young Sweedish activist Greta Thunberg began a year ago, when she began skipping school on Fridays as a protest against climate change. Her message was clear: ‘why bother going to school to educate ourselves, if the planet is coming to an end?’. Every Friday, she stood outside the Swedish Parliament to protest the lack of action taken against climate change.
Now Thunberg has significant support from the American NGO 350.org, which has created the necessary infrastructure to carry out the mobilizations this September, through the platform, Global Climate Strike. The initiative has also received support from large organisations such as Amnesty International, Extinction Rebellion, CIVICUS, and many more.
Greta Thunberg is becoming one of the most important voices in the climate emergency debate. In May of this year, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, who referred to her as the ‘leader of the next generation’.
Greta will be leading the strike from New York, where she arrived after crossing the Atlantic in a solar powered boat instead of taking a plane, as a way to draw attention to the damaging impact that air travel has on the environment.
How can you get involved in the Global Climate Strike?
The most obvious way to get involved is to strike on the 20th of September together with thousands of young people across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. However, for those who are unable to strike, the organisers suggest participating in other activities during the week, or simply using the opportunity to create more consciousness among friends, colleagues, and family members about the current climate emergency.
The movement also offers resources that can be used to create conversation about the current situation on social media and in our work places, and also provides materials that can be used to organise training days and discussions. The message is clear: even if you can’t strike on the 20th of September, the most important thing is your willingness to spread the message of the seriousness of the current situation.
The information is abundant. The last four years have been the hottest in history, the temperature in the Arctic during the winter has gone up by 3 °C since 1990, the sea levels are rising too fast to control, and in 2016, we saw the whitening of around 50% of all corrals in the world.
We can’t keep ignoring the effects of climate change. In the Amazon rainforest for example, the fires this year have been far too close to what many scientists call the “tipping point”, the point in which deforestation becomes irreversible.
If there’s no going back, then what’s at risk is the survival of our species, among many others, and everything that goes along with it.
It’s fundamentally important to recognise that this situation is the product of a development model that is predatory, and that has no limits, destroying everything in its path. The alternative is clear: either we change or we succumb. That is why it is so important to act this 20th of September, and to participate in whatever way we can to force governments to comply with the promises made in the Paris Accords.
The troubling thing is though, with the crisis unfolding, it already seems like it’s too late.