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Youth of XR #1

This speech was planned to be read during the Youth Strike 4 Climate, in Exeter on February 15th. Youth Strike for Climate is an international movement that is gaining traction and support all the time. February 15th was the first mass countrywide UK action. Exeter was one of the biggest events. XR unequivocally supports Youth Strikes. Some Youth Strike members are also XR Youth members, including in Exeter. Thanks to ‘Jack’ for the YouTube video above. Jack, please get in touch -one of our editors would like to create some content with you!

Greatest Power

by Molly Bovett

To those with the greatest power, from those who must break the system to claim it:

There never should have been a ‘time for waiting’, and now even those stolen years have run out.

Your generation has failed to keep us safe in this time, and now we, your children, are left to pick up the pieces and provoke you into action. The promises that have been made and the plans that have been discussed so far are too vague and too idle.

We have, at best, twelve years left before the state of our planet becomes catastrophic and we run out of time for action; that is not time that can be wasted like the politicians and major companies of the world have wasted the years leading up to this.

You are the ones who have created this mess and now we are here to force you into action. You are the ones with the power to help us.

Children are raised to be quiet when they’re angry and to do as they’re told, but this is one issue that we cannot be silenced on.

In just the past twenty five years, you have emitted more CO2 than the entirety of the human race before you. The climate we have been born and raised in, the climate that you have created, is born of obliteration.

We may even see climate collapse as soon as within the next five years, and if we don’t amend that, cultural collapse will inevitably follow within our lifetimes.

Even these horrific facts are things that we have had to seek out ourselves; our schools do not equip us with the knowledge and ability to mitigate the worst-case scenarios. Nor do they teach us about the direness of our climate situation or how we can live low carbon lifestyles.

We do not want to live in fear but you give us no choice. We trusted you, the adults, to keep us safe but you have failed to secure our future.

You want to raise good kids, people who will be kind to one another and the world around them, work passionately and take their educations seriously. These kids are here, begging at your feet to spare us a future in flames. We will care for this earth and its creatures. We will love every precious second that we are here; just as long as you do the same.

Image associée


La tierra transformada, Joaquín Clausell (1910)




This is my only planet 

by Holly Errington

*

This is my only planet

I must defend it

This is your beautiful planet

You must help us

*

Tired of endless excuses

Governments saying “We’ll fix it later”

And walking away with a smirk

*

Their pockets full and our planet empty

No,

We will not settle for later

Yes,

We don’t care if you think we’re crazy

*

We can band together

Rise up

Join forces

Stop this

*

Climate change

Habitat loss

Ocean acidification

are happening now

*

Do not let others pollute your vision

Be a protector of precious life  

Let us hold hope by the hand

Pray that we will be sitting amongst wildlife

In years to come

Talking about our defiance

And victory

Against this ecological destruction

XR and School Strike for Climate

By Henry Greenwood

My first wake up moment to the reality of climate change came in 2007 when watching Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. I don’t remember being particularly aware of the issue before, but after watching it I realised that I wanted to do something to play a part in tackling this massive issue facing us. Al Gore talked about it as a crisis then, but not many people were treating it like one.

Since then I always thought of climate change as something that could be prevented if we all worked hard enough to persuade people to change their behaviour and governments to change their policies. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, while being a long time coming seemed to be a big step forward to creating the consensus required for action. Three years after that, however, and with nowhere near enough having changed, 2018 was the year that I accepted that climate change cannot be prevented. It’s too late for that. The climate has already changed, and the still increasing amounts of greenhouse gases that we are emitting make further climate breakdown inevitable with increasingly devastating consequences.

It feels staggering that it took until 2018 for climate change to become a mainstream concern, but at least it is now happening. It seemed to me as though it was the first year in the UK that people saw and felt it so clearly that it became impossible for anyone, other than hardened deniers, to attribute the extreme weather to repeated freak occurrences rather than a long term trend caused by us.

Sun Front PageThere was the Beast From the East in March, followed a month later by record high temperatures in April, and then the prolonged hot and dry summer which led to even the Sun declaring climate change to be the cause of the heatwave.

Then in October, the IPCC report came out stating in clear terms that we were way off track to avoid catastrophe, and that we have 12 years to drastically change the way we live. Not long after, WWF produced a heart breaking report stating that 60% of wildlife had been wiped out by human activity since 1970. To put all this into a UK political context, however, around the same time, Philip Hammond delivered the 2018 budget without a single mention of climate change.

Two stories also emerged towards the end of 2018, though, that genuinely have the potential to change the course that we are on.

Rebellion Day PhotoIn November, I was recommended by a colleague and friend to read Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation report. Later that week, I went to an event organised by the Climate Action Society at UCL at which leading academics spoke about the reality of climate change. This was my second wake up moment, and it was an even harder realisation than the first. This time, it was the realisation that things probably aren’t going to be OK, and we are facing something truly terrifying that may already be beyond our control. So the following day I decided to join Extinction Rebellion and go and sit on Waterloo Bridge and shut it down to traffic, alongside around 6,000 others across five bridges.

I was initially put off by the name ‘Extinction Rebellion’. Extinction is not a nice thought to contemplate, it makes me deeply sad to think of the animal species that have gone and are facing extinction, but in this context it makes us confront the possible extinction of humanity if we continue on our current path. I’ve never particularly been the rebellious type either, and to me the word conjures up images of violence and bloodshed. But this is a different kind of rebellion, and those harsh words are offset by the movement’s simple demands and a powerfully compelling and compassionate method, delivered by ordinary people who care about our living planet and our collective future.

Their demands are that the government tells the truth about climate change and acts as though it is the truth, that the UK reduces carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, and that we set up a citizens’ assembly to determine the policies needed and oversee the changes. These may sound radical, but on reflection, they are merely a sensible and rational response to the existential crisis that we face.

The method to achieve these aims is non-violent direct action. Inspiration is drawn from the civil rights movement, and the realisation that everything up to this point has failed to change our suicidal trajectory.

Greta ThunbergThe other story that has the potential to inspire action is that of young people rising to the challenge to which adults have failed. Greta Thunberg started striking from school and sitting outside the Swedish Parliament in September and has been doing it every Friday since then. What started as a one person protest has now led to tens of thousands of students in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and other countries to follow her lead, making the point that their futures are being compromised by the lack of action from older generations on climate change.

I went along to the first UK youth school climate strike in London in December which was arranged in a few days and attracted around 12 school students. Since then young people have been organising, inspired by Greta’s message and there will be strikes in cities and towns across the country on Friday February 15th.

Where does Green Schools Project fit into all this? I left my job as Head of Maths at a Hackney Secondary School in 2015 to start the organisation as my way of contributing to tackling climate change. In assemblies we tell students about the reality that they are facing and how they can play a part in addressing the greatest challenge we face. I’m not planning to encourage students in the schools that we are working with to go on strike, that’s entirely for them to decide, but we stand squarely in solidarity with the young people choosing to take this action and support their call for a planet that is still habitable by the time that they are adults.

One of our goals as an organisation this year is to amplify the voices of young people calling for change to a system that is causing the mass extinction of species and will lead to the end of our current way of life. I hope with all my heart that the young people that I see in schools will have the opportunities and freedoms to live and work, travel, and enjoy the natural world as much as I have, but I fear that this will not be the case. Maybe young people like Greta will be the ones that finally provide the wake up call that is needed to treat this crisis as the crisis it really is, and decisively change the course of events.