Young People Leading on the Challenge of Our Time: Climate Action
The current bush fires in many parts of Australia, the driest continent on Earth, have had a direct impact on the lives of thousands of Australians, wiped out millions of animals, birds, insects, destroyed flora and increased CO2 emissions in to the atmosphere.
This has caused great hardship for many people who have lost their homes and lives in some cases, but it has also shown the great power of collective action by ordinary working people in fighting the fires and supporting those most in need. A microcosm of how different society would be if run by ordinary people instead of the current set up.
This is in stark contrast to the climate change deniers who run the country, epitomized by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison who turned his back on the looming crisis caused by the fires and went for a holiday in Hawaii!
As bad as the bush fires have been this summer, they are only a symptom of a bigger problem, the problem of global warming and climate change. The ruling class know this and occasionally there are reports from their own press about the whole environmental crisis of climate change that gets worse every day.
On Thursday 2 January 2020, the Australian Financial Review featured an informative article by Sarah Kaplan headed "Warning Signs Turn Up Heat For Climate Action".
The article begins by telling the story of Kallan Benson, the daughter of an environmental scientist. Kallan was five years old in 2010 and remembered her mother explaining to her about the state of the planet, but then she thought that "grown-ups" in government would do what was needed to protect.
Kallan does not feel that way in 2020 and is a climate change activist. She is now national co-ordinator of the youth climate organisation, Fridays For The Future.
Kallan now says, "this decade we are going in to now will be the most important of our lives, we're kind of running out of options. And we're running out of time."
The journalist, Sarah Kaplan, explores this "running out of time" concern of young people in particular by turning to the science, and the UN commitments and reports on climate change rather than ignoring it as the climate change deniers and greedy multinational corporations do.
From these she concludes that the promises made at the 2015 Paris climate accord to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius fell way short. According to the latest UN emissions gap report from the UN, temperatures can be expected to rise 3.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century unless the world's top emitters increase their Paris commitments and actually achieve their commitments.
Latest scientific reports, according to the article say that even two degrees of warming will prove intolerable for living in parts of the world, which of course could include Australia.
A landmark 2018 UN report found that to limit rises to even the lesser 1.5-degree target by 2030, nations would have to halve current CO2 emissions levels!
That is only going to have a chance of happening due to a mighty people's movement crossing national boundaries. This is a distinct possibility, as it has already started and is sure to grow.
Reading the Australian Financial Review article made me think how important it is not to portray a doomsday view on climate change as it will lead to despair and possible inaction by some people.
Climate change science researcher Kim Cobb from Georgia Technical College in the USA makes the sober point: "Climate change is not a cliff, it's not a pass-fail course. If we meet the 1.5 target, there may still be some ugly surprises. And if we don't make it...it's not that everyone is going to die."
In other words, while time is running, there is still time. Cobb ends by saying, "Our decisions over the next 10 years will affect the magnitude of climate change for centuries to come. I don't think it can get more sobering than that".
Is It Terrible Or Is It Fine?
The impact of human-made climate change on people and the whole planet is terrible, as is the destruction of the environment and whole species since capitalism came in to being.
What is fine is that the youth of today and future working class are up for the challenge and have initiated a people power movement that is capturing the imagination of millions of people across the world and isolating the ruling class and its government puppets of all descriptions across many nations.
In Australia, the movement is correctly targeting the biggest polluters in the fossil fuel and related industries and their puppets in governments led by the "coal in hand' Morrison Government.
The future is bright for the people while the days of the big corporate polluters are numbered.