The past few months have been variably encouraging for the movement to halt climate change. At part of the forefront of the movement has been the worldwide striking of school children, demanding more action from their governments. The action started with Swedish Greta Thunberg in August of last year. Since then Thunberg has become the no-nonsense face of youth demanding meaningful action on climate change and the strike has spread to many countries around the world, including Australia.
The protest continues as children make the point “why bother learning a school curriculum for a dying earth?” As of yesterday, as many as 10,000 school children descended on The Hague in protest while tens of thousands are on strike across Belgium. But in Australia, the School Strike 4 Climate Action took place in the last week of November. At the time, I was in Bristol, UK, and missed much of what took place surrounding the climate demonstrations in Australia. I have looked over the coverage of the event and one major point has struck me as both typical and infuriating.
This would be the comments made by our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. He entirely missed the point of the demonstrations, as they point the finger directly at his coalition and indeed the Labor party for their failure in action regarding climate change in this country. Morrison implored the children to stay in school, stating that the issue can be dealt with “outside of school” by the very politicians that have failed in addressing the issue thus far.
He went beyond this to say that “What we want is more learning and less activism in schools.”
“More learning” and “Less activism”.
What is activism if not the active application of what one has learnt for what they see as the benefit of the community/society/country? If you accept this, then it only follows as anti-democratic to ask that these children be silent.
If anything, if we have trust in our education system (and if we do not have trust in it, there should be more funds/attention allocated in that direction) we should encourage our children to apply their school learnings to influence politics on a wider range of issues. The fallout of the decisions we make at this moment will, especially in relation to the environment, affect future generations far more significantly than they will the current. The youngest of us should have a say in whether our environment is handed over to corporations or preserved for their and future use, after all it’s our education programs that are informing the children and encouraging this common sense reaction.
I was irked, but unsurprised at finding media outlets downplaying the significance and size of the movement. This article in The West is headlined to imply a single child taking part in the WA movement, and goes on to suggest only hundreds of participants around the country. The subject was an organiser for the movement at Parliament House and the turnouts for these events worldwide have generated massive reaction in almost every instance (Australia being no different).
By Nathan Booth