The call of the young

July 22nd, 2019

So, this week I’ve been mostly thinking about (sounds like a Fast Show sketch…?! who says climate activists don’t have a sense of humour..!) 

Greta Thunberg.

I’ve twice read her belief that people just need to know the consequences of their actions in order to alter climate change behaviour.

She says that of course we need a system change, but believes that you cannot have system change without individual change.

She advocates going vegan, stopping flying and having shop-stop….I’m not really sure what that last means, but car-sharing, shopping in bulk so using vehicles less frequently maybe…?

Anyway, I’ve just written (a hand-written letter) to Sir David Attenborough, hoping he might have access/influence to a television production company that could create a ‘War against Climate Change’ series – for regular/ordinary/normal viewers…

Along the lines of the ‘War against Plastic’ programmes, presented by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Anita Rani.

For some reason, it seems easier to engage people against the threat of plastic pollution – the climate is such an abstract concept, I suppose….

I’ve also signed up to 350.org, a global climate movement and waiting to hear about what actions will be taking place in this area during the September 20-27th ‘Earth Strike’ week – I’d like to show solidarity with the school strikers, particularly.

Apparently, their campaign continues every Friday – millions of school students around the world (over 160 countries) have been striking, during ‘FridaysForFuture’.

If you can, watch the inspiring global video – ‘Young people have woken the world up’.

It is their future, after all – I just hope these young people don’t lose their focus, passion and commitment when they grow up….instead, though, there will be new young people joining them, including our grandchildren – and by then they will all have built a better world, of course. 

This should not be seen as idealistic ‘pie in the sky’-  one of the letters to Greta Thunberg (yesterday’s Observer feature) was from a 21 year old in Armenia who said she was being dismissed because of her age and told she didn’t understand ‘how the world works’.

It’s not working though, is it?

The amazing Greta Thunberg’s work makes so many good points. 

The climate change crisis cannot be seen in isolation – that is why it needs to underpin every person’s thinking and actions.

Climate-related issues are the key to other issues as well, such as equality, social injustice and human rights.

There is a connection even in the current situation in the Middle East, the threat of war with Iran – it’s an oil tanker at the centre of it all…..

I’ve had two replies during the week too.

One, today, is brief but hopeful in a way. 

Volkswagen underlined the pitiful lack of ambition on the part of government as being a major reason that electric cars are still very much of minority appeal – until legislation requires drivers to be ‘clean’, they won’t be….

Peik von Bestenbostel told me: “One part of our strategy is to completely revise our model range. Until 2023, we will invest 30 billion Euro in innovative technology and attractive new cars.” The part of his email I liked follows: “The transformation of the automotive industry is on its way. It will not happen immediately but it will gradually become more visible soon.”

Of course I have still got, in the back of my mind, the Volkswagen scandal involving ‘cooking the books’ about emission levels…..

The other reply was last week, on the exact date I was told to expect a response, when I contributed to the Department for Transport’s 2050 Aviation Strategy Consultation in June.

So, good communication timing, but hopeless in terms of target timing – 2050 is too late.

I’ve written a letter (handwritten again) to the name at the bottom of the reply – I hope that a personal approach may mean my idea about ‘flying vouchers’ gets through somewhere.

But of course the whole consultation may just have been a public relations exercise….

And finally, on a more creative note (unintentional pun, the best..!) it’s Proms time.

The 2019 Proms have been inspired by nature, and our part in destroying it. Composer John Luther Adams believes it is essential for artists to confront the climate crisis and the mass extinction of species now taking place.

And Jocelyn Pook has written a new piece that sets words from speeches by Greta Thunberg to music.

“Her voice, a lone teenager, making such a difference, is very heartening.”

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