This week, schoolchildren and adults all over Europe and Australia are protesting government inaction on climate change. In the US, large portions of one half of the population are also protesting while the other half of the population is still deciding whether they “want” to believe in it — or, in the more advanced stages, whether to believe in the severity of the problem. Actually, it’s not a problem, it’s a full blown catastrophe, a complete and total destabilization of the world climate.
The IPCC report says warming cannot be allowed to go beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, and we have until 2030 to make radical change and 2050 to stop emitting CO2 altogether. You know what the majority of scientists also agree on? That the IPCC is always on the optimistic side, which means there is a non-optimistic part of the scale where the climate catastrophe is worse than we think and a pessimistic side of the scale where the climate catastrophe is much, much worse than most people think — and even that might not represent the possibility of a hothouse earth scenario where we shoot past 4 degrees Celsius.
In the Netherlands, the main protest is actually going to be on the 27th, not the 20th, at the end of “Climate Strike” week. It will take place in Den Hague, right where the politicians will be forced to see and hear everyone. Smaller demonstrations are scheduled throughout the week all over the Netherlands, but what is even more interesting is that a group led by 5 teenagers will be missing school all week and marching across half the country to reach Den Hague by foot in time for the biggest demonstration, the big finale.
These kids started their march today in the town of Wageningen and were joined by school kids as well as university kids from all over town to give them a good sendoff. On their way out of town, they also made sure to let their voices be heard in the streets of the city center. Even in the Netherlands, half their chants were in English, because climate change is a global problem.
One of the biggest issues in attitude that I have seen in many smaller European countries is that “we are just a small nation that doesn’t emit nearly as many greenhouse gasses as nations like the US and China,” but that is some really bad reasoning. Not only does every small part contribute, but it will be up to every small nation to help its neighbors and then help other parts of the world adapt, especially those that are not as well off and capable of making such a transition.
Back to the current demonstration in Wageningen — whether the chants were in Dutch or in English, they were inspiring. Here are some examples:
- “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
- “1-2-3, charge the Indu-stry!” (translated)
- “We are unstoppable, another world is possible!”
- “Alarm, alarm, the earth’s getting too warm!” (translated)
- “Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go.”
- “Keep, it, in the ground, keep it in the ground.” (translated)
- “The oceans are rising, and so are we.”
Then one of the most clever and effective ones was actually a modification to a pretty well known ditty:
- “No more fossil fuels, keep them in the ground, merrily merrily merrily merrily, we will shut you down.”
In addition to the chants, one of the teachers of the kids even gave a full blown concert in the city center, where songs were modified with a climate change theme. Have a listen to the best example of all, the climate change edition of Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” (it’s quite something):
This may be the most Dutch thing you will ever hear — the speakers for this concert were powered by the pedaling motion of a bicycle. But the cherry on top was that just before they started the concert, the mayor of the town was invited to be the one to pedal on the make-shift power generator. This was certainly one of the friendliest and most well spirited protests — worthy of the record books. Have you ever seen the people holding office supporting the crowds protesting against them in such a way?
Another funny moment happened about 10 minutes before that. After the teenage protesters gave some very effective speeches, a representative of the town also gave one. He mentioned his “moral support” for the cause and also noted that, while only the nation’s capital could make large changes, even in a town such as that one citizens can do things like place solar panels on their roofs. Though, he was contradicted moments later by a lady citing local laws prohibiting her and many other people in the city center from placing them on their roofs since their homes are “historical monuments.”
That, however, was not the most significant contradiction the representative got an earful for. One of the things he said in his speech was that we are on the “more pleasant side” of climate change, and one of the lead protesters was quick to point out that this summer alone 400 people died in the Netherlands from the severe heat wave, which was a direct result of climate change. There is no pleasant side to climate change — it’s nasty business all around. It’s incredible that even kids see the truth that so many people who hold office are blind to, or seem blind to. Keep in mind: that is in a developed, rich, advanced country, and it’s only the very beginning. Strap in, because this ride is just starting.
Nonetheless, in good spirit, the kids went on their merry way to show Den Hague what they are made of. CleanTechnica will be catching up with them in a couple of days to interview them and get into: the specifics of climate change, what their goals are, and feedback on what aspects behind the science of climate change people need to know more about.