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Criticism of the Youth Strike 4 Climate protest is shameful

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Over 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities took part in the Youth Strike 4 Climate on Friday, showing that young people do have a voice and that it should be heard.

Lead Image Credit: Leonhard Lenz via Wikimedia Commons

It is shameful that those who joined the protest are being criticised by politicians and leading figures across society for standing up for our future. A recent theme within my articles for The National Student has been one of a lack of pride in our country, and a lack of belief and faith in politicians doing the right thing. Youth Strike 4 Climate is one thing we should and can be proud of.

I find it somewhat ironic that it is not those who lead the country that have reinvigorated my belief and pride - rather it is young people, of which I am one, standing up to be counted and tackling the most pressing issue to face our world moving forward. That issue being climate change.

Anyone who does not see climate change as an issue that needs to be immediately addressed is ignorant and selfish. We have been told by the UN that we have 12 years to limit a climate change catastrophe. Scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees; anything more than half a degree rise could have a catastrophic impact, worsening the risk of extreme weather events and increasing the risk of poverty for millions of people. The facts can not be ignored; that is why we should be proud of young people taking action, not criticising them for ‘bunking’ off school.

The reaction against the demonstration is somewhat laughable and somewhat embarrassing from MPs and people of a certain demographic. Tweets have been sent labelling the strikers as truants, amongst other things. Even Theresa May criticised the strike, stating that it ‘increase(s) teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time’ - but surely her party’s policies towards education have done nothing to aid that since 2010 anyway. What increases teachers’ workloads is poor pay, poor job security and an overall lack of funding. Yes, the strike may have caused disruption, but disruption standing up for our future is better than sitting around in a classroom for a day. There is no price on our future. It does not matter how educated we are if there is no longer a world to live in.

The criticism makes no sense. For years we have known that climate change is a threat to our very existence. For years we have known something must be done, yet time and time again nothing is done, the issue is ignored and not prioritised. We have high profile politicians and world leaders who deny climate change is real and are jeopardising our planet's future. So, for leading figures within the UK to come out and criticise young people missing out on education to strike for their futures makes zero sense.

If I was PM of this country, I would be applauding young people for standing up for what they believe in. But then again this is the UK, where young people are not allowed an opinion because we are too naïve or immature, or so unaware of the facts that it should be down to older generations to plan for our future. This Draconian attitude needs to change, and the Youth Strike 4 Climate is a good example of this. The very fact that young people felt obliged to strike is a marker of the lack of faith and the ineptitude of current world leaders and politicians in this country when it comes to climate change.

This movement sets precedent across not only this country, but also around the world. It shows that young people and their beliefs are not there just to be pushed over and ignored. It shows we are capable of understanding ideas and notions about our future, and we care about things bigger than just social media and gaming as so many suggest. What good is it older members of society criticising this action. They have had years to aid the fight towards climate change, yet have chosen to do nothing and still feel entitled to sit on their high horses and judge. I am sorry, but this is not your future, it is ours - so let us protect it.

Our future should not be dictated by elderly statesmen, and it should not be dictated by large corporations - we should have the right to dictate our own future. Selfishness and greed need to be eradicated, people need to realise that what we have in this world is beautiful and we are lucky that it even exists. We should be doing our utmost to protect and sustain the Earth. It is unique, it is one of a kind, and it is key to our existence.

Lead Image Credit: Leonhard Lenz via Wikimedia Commons

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