4 million voices

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I've seen it reported that over 4 million young and not so young people were on the streets last Friday in 163 countries.  Who can doubt it.  The UK reporting I have seen inevitably focused on London, but this was a phenomenon seen across the country.  It's a fine response to Greta Thunberg's "... dream that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences – as you would in an emergency – and take the measures required to safeguard the conditions for a dignified life for everybody on Earth."

I've got two points to make about this.  The first is that it's crucial to focus on both climate and ecology, as Greta does here, but much reporting doesn't; the ecological crisis is often not even an afterthought when it is fundamental to the difficulties we face.

The second is that, in the UK at any rate, there's a tendency by those protesting [i] to discount the steps that have been taken by government, business and others so far, and [ii] to simplify matters too much by assuming that change will be straightforward.  To make this point is to risk accusations of complacency, which is far from the case (I assure myself).  If I am right about this it is probably because no one really bothers to explain the complexities of changing a modern economy and how long it will take.  Partly that is because government / politicians are poor at communicating it, and partly it's because schools are not good (a kind phrase) at teaching it.

As an example of this, I recall the moment back in June when, during the BBC's lamentable attempt at a 'debate' amongst those vying to be Conservative party leader, none of the candidates dared tell 15 year old Erin Curtis, a UKSCN member from Glasgow, that her desire to re-engineer the economy by going net zero carbon by 2025 were not only unrealistic but risky.  None of them dared tell her she was completely right about the zero-net carbon aim, but dreadfully wrong about the timing if the goal really was to ensure that people in the UK (as well as the rest of the world) could have a "dignified life".  I guess they'd all been told not to trash the youth vote but this craven approach is no good at all.

It's going to be hard enough to reach this goal by 2050 given that our entire way of life is based on carbon energy sources.  If you doubt this, please read this week's Economist which has feature articles on climate throughout the edition.  It makes grim but realistic reading, and there is data galore.  I'll have more to say later this week.

That schools should be exploring all this with young people seems obvious to be (but not to the DfE).  These are the Stage 3 issues I wrote about last week.  By and large, and for a range of reasons, schools don't touch them.  They should.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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