Student | Cosmo Cattell
Climate change has been an issue in the air for decades. It’s been like the ‘check engine’ light that’s always flashing in your car, and you know it can’t be’s probably not good., but What’s the worst that can happen? It’s easy to ignore a warning such as this, taking the mindset that you can deal with it in the future when the problem becomes more apparent. However, as I found out the hard way – when the mechanic told me my car was damaged beyond repair – sometimes it’s better to listen. The ‘check engine’ light for climate change has been on since the 80s. At this point, we’re driving a car with the engine on fire straight towards a cliff edge, but many of us are too busy looking out of the window to even notice the smoke.
In October, a committee of the world’s leading researchers in climate studies provided a report drawn from over 6,000 individual studies that might just be the clearest warning ever given to humanity. We have to change our system or we face will face unprecedented catastrophe. Humans have increased the global average temperature by 1°C since pre-industrial times, if we go beyond 2°C the impacts are predicted to cause a domino effect threatening all life on earth, let alone the fragile luxury of modern civilisation. At current rates, we will sail past that limit. To have any chance of staying below 2°C we would have to decrease emissions by 45% before 2030, yet we are showing no signs of making anywhere near that kind of change.
There is no doubt we are heading towards global disaster, in fact, it’s has already begun. Hotter summers, more extreme weather events, increased migration and the loss of over 60% of animal species since 1970 places us firmly in the midst of the 6th mass extinction on planet earth. Whilst it is true we all have blood on our hands, the majority of culpability is held by a very small percentage. 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions. These wealthy and ruthless corporations are threatening our existence so that they can continue to live in unimaginable luxury and the governments and policymakers of the world are happycontent to let them so long as they themselves reap a share of the profits. This system fuelled by greed is unsustainable and to avoid a global crisis it has to change.
Humanity has never faced a bigger challenge and it’s going to take a lot more than separating your recycling and cutting down on meat to overcome it. Nothing short of mobilisation by the people, on a scale eclipsing even the world wars, is required. Perhaps this is already happening. Activist group Extinction Rebellion, who were responsible for disrupting 5 of London’s bridges in November, have more civil disobedience planned for April, now with international support and exponentially growing momentum.
On a similar mission are the student activists in Europe. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old who decided to protest on her own outside the Swedish parliament, thousands have been taking to the streets every Friday with the numbers getting up to 30,000 in both Belgium and Germany. Perception of environmental activism has shifted from a leftist hobby to an uprising against injustice and it has the potential to unite people from all sides with the common goal of preventing our extinction. The first UK wide student strike is commencing on the 15th of February in several major cities, with the first globally coordinated student strike planned the following month on Friday the 15th March in Australia, Northern America, Europe and Japan.
Featured Image: BBC