Conservation Comment: Students' strike for climate change an inspiration
Whanganui students gather at the Virginia Lake punchbowl to protest climate inaction. Photo / Stuart Munro The students' strike for climate change was an inspiration for those of us who have been struggling for years trying to get governments to understand how serious climate change is and to have the courage to do something. Governments need the guts to do something that may be unpopular, but they will be thanked for in the long term. It will be this Government's "nuclear-free moment". It is hard politically for a government to do something unpopular because it affects people now for something indefinite in the future. Getting everyone with different agendas to understand long term is not easy. This students' strike started with Greta Thunberg who sat on the Swedish Parliament's steps every day during school hours for nearly three weeks holding a sign "school strike for climate", which became noticed worldwide. I'm not sure why it has taken so long for students to realise they could have political influence. Hopefully it will convince those adults close to them that their inaction is ruining the future for the next generations. Most of us oldies won't be around when climate change gets a whole lot worse than the fires, droughts, sea inundations and storms currently occurring. Then again, looking at the past year's climate excesses, maybe we will be. Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest, which tended to mean the strongest, was once the most important criteria, but being adaptable and smart also comes into it. Being the smartest on the planet has also meant the survival rate of our species is higher through better food supplies, housing, transport and health, but these advantages are also leading to pressure on resources and causing climate change. Last year, Earth overshoot day was sooner than ever, August 1, when we had used a year's ration of resources in seven months. We are treating Earth like some sort of Ponzi scheme, kidding ourselves we can pay the Earth back in the future. But all Ponzi schemes are prone to collapse, having provided short-term gains. The Antarctic ice sheet is perhaps the Earth's metaphorical warning of this collapse. But what is at the root of this resource wastage is human desire for more and more, which our current economic system encourages, as it only considers more growth as acceptable. The health of the planet doesn't seem to feature in the economic equation. Chief Seattle is said to have stated: "When the last tree is felled, the last fish is eaten, the last river polluted, then eat your money". As David Wallace-Wells wrote in the Listener a few weeks ago, we need to treat climate change as a critical issue needing immediate action. It could be seen as similar to how the Allies reacted in World War 2; they changed from "business as usual" to creating armaments to fight an obviously dangerous enemy. This is what we must do now, put all resources towards fighting climate change, as the result of not doing so is as calamitous, if not more so, than losing WW2. Our children must keep the pressure on, through more student strikes if necessary, the Government and their elders to make some sacrifices, really very little in the scheme of things, but potentially securing a future for our children. How many times have I heard "I'd do anything for my kids"? Okay, the time is now. Tell our Government that we will support them to secure a future for our kids. It won't cost the Earth. Doing nothing will. John Milnes is a Green Party candidate for three elections, founder member of Sustainable Whanganui, a parent and grandparent. While strong, damaging wind threatens this weekend, next week could be over 30C in places.