Joining in: Saving the planet with activism

Youthquake: Students in more than 100 countries took part in a second school strike in March.

Over 1,000 people have been arrested. Now, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg has visited London, urging the Government to listen to protesters and declare a climate emergency. Will it work?

Bing Jones is a 66-year-old retired doctor. Six months ago, he had never taken part in any activism. This week, he was dragged to a cell by police during the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

“The climate emergency is so real and intense — it’s a privilege to feel you are doing something,” he explained. “Would I be willing to go to prison for this? The short answer is yes.”

More than 1,000 people have been arrested over the past 10 days for acts of civil disobedience. Activists locked themselves to lorries and buses, blockaded roads and caused chaos on the capital’s transport network. The group wants the Government to declare a climate emergency.

At the heart of the wave of climate activism is 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a schoolgirl who went from holding a placard outside the Swedish parliament to being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in just seven months.

“We probably don’t even have a future any more. That future has been sold,” she told MPs in Westminster on Tuesday.

In March, an estimated 1.4 million students around the world joined Thunberg’s controversial school strike against climate change. Another is due to happen next month.

Green dawn?

Should you get involved in protests? Throughout history, civil disobedience has been a way for groups who do not have much power to influence events. Today, headed by Greta Thunberg, this division is overwhelmingly between old and young, who lack real power and yet could suffer the most from climate change.

But civil disobedience is most effective when it affects those making the decisions. By missing school, or stopping ordinary Londoners from getting to work, are today’s protesters really directing their anger in the right direction?

You Decide

  1. Would you like to go on a protest?

Activities

  1. Make a placard that you could take to a climate protest. Look at pictures from the school strike for inspiration.

Some People Say...

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”

Elie Wiesel

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Extinction Rebellion, a protest group that formed in response to a UN climate change report last October, has been disrupting roads and public transport across London for the last week and a half. On Sunday, Greta Thunberg gave a speech at an Extinction Rebellion rally.
What do we not know?
Whether the recent surge in climate activism will have a concrete impact on the Government.

Word Watch

Civil disobedience
When you refuse to obey certain laws or rules that you think are unfair, as part of a protest.
Blockaded
When you seal off a place so that people and goods cannot pass through. The protesters parked a boat in the middle of Oxford Circus in London.
Climate emergency
Their two other key demands are that the UK reduces net carbon emissions to zero by 2025, and forms a citizens’ assembly to oversee the fight against climate change.

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