Open thread: Youth strike for climate

Since I haven’t had a post for a few days, I thought we could have an open thread about the youth strike for climate. I mostly think it’s quite a positive thing; it’s young people whose future is at stake making their voices heard. It’s also had quite a remarkable impact. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be leaving this to the youth, and I certainly don’t think they should regularly be taking days off school.

I have, however, come across some really remarkable responses. There’s a UK-based site where Greta Thunberg was described as radicalised and compared to Shemima Beggum. Watts Up With That plumbed the depths with a post about Greta Thunberg’s Aspergers. The Global Warming Policy Foundation have suggested that the striking youth are brainwashed. I’ve also been accussed of child abuse by more than one person on Twitter, because I’m supportive of the climate strikes. We really do need a better class of climate “skeptic”.

I really don’t know how there can be any common ground with people who seem to think that this kind of rhetoric is acceptable, or even why there should really be any reason to find some. Anyway, I’ll stop there. I realise that I’ve focussed on some of the more objectionable responses to the youth strikes, but maybe we can try to keep the comments about the youth strike itself, rather than about the more bizarre responses to it.

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67 Responses to Open thread: Youth strike for climate

  1. Richard Arrett says:

    In my opinion there is nothing wrong with young people skipping school to gather and voice their opinion on any important topic they wish to.

    Kids skip school for lots of worse reasons.

    On the other hand – I see these protests as kind of like wishing for world peace – fun for the kids, nice to write about – but really what do they want? Treat climate change as an emergency – what does that mean?

    The green new deal in the USA is stupid and counterproductive (especially without nuclear). 100% renewable is not physically possible with our current technology – but go ahead and wish for unicorns if you want.

    So in the end – people (even young students) can protest and express their opinions – even if they don’t have a reasonable plan and they are just wishing things were different.

    Maybe some of them will go on to become inventors and actually invent something which helps solve the problem in the real world. Fusion. Massive power storage. Getting power down to the ground from space based solar. So the protests might inspire future scientists to solve the real problems we have today, which the protests have no idea how to solve.

    Here’s hoping.

  2. Rachel M says:

    I think what they’re doing is great and they put us all to shame. I feel sad when I see the images of children because it’s their future and we’re dumping a huge problem in their hands which we should have addressed decades ago.

  3. Richard,

    So in the end – people (even young students) can protest and express their opinions – even if they don’t have a reasonable plan and they are just wishing things were different.

    Sure, and I don’t think there is some obligation to listen to them. The responsibility for policy-making still lies with policy-makers (those we elect).

    Someone, however, highlighted on Twitter that it was quite remarkable that in the UK we even have Conservative party MPs and Ministers supporting the strikes. This would seem to be something that probably wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago. It’s maybe small thing, but it’s still a step in the right direction (in my view).

  4. Rachel,
    Yes, I agree that it’s sad that we’ve essentially left it to the youth to speak out.

  5. Willard says:

    > I don’t think there is some obligation to listen to them

    Not listening to them does not seem viable today for a politician today:

  6. Richard. They’re kids. They can’t vote. They have no power—other than to shout out how badly adults are screwing up their future. Maybe in ten years they will be part of the solution, but for now it’s adults who needs to pull their fingers out. So I’m not sure what the point of your comment was.

  7. jacksmith4tx says:

    History will note that the New Zealand massacre will dominate all other events that occurred on this date. To get climate change to the top of the news feed you need to link it DIRECTLY to mass death events. That’s going to be hard because climate change is a best only one of many factors that come into play during a mass death event like fish kills, insect die offs and ocean/lake dead zones.
    Sadly, as far as I can tell it is impossible for any economy based on capitalism to prevent the ultimate destruction of the environment. It’s fundamental to it’s philosophy; Endless growth.

  8. Willard says:

    > I’m not sure what the point of your comment was.

    I think RickA’s point is immediately after the short “yes.” It starts with a variation of a “but”:

    On the other hand – I see these protests as kind of like wishing for world peace – fun for the kids, nice to write about – but really what do they want? Treat climate change as an emergency – what does that mean?

    Just asking questions about the meaning of it all, you know. One might as well ask if there’s any empirical evidence that marching does anything in the world. Or if it really changes perceptions.

    The way to incredulity is paved with well-meant concerns.

    An alternative reading is that RickA used this “yes, but” anchoring to inject some hippie bashing. Search for “green” in his comment. If I’m correct, I predict we’ll hear about nukes shortly.

  9. jacksmith4tx says:

    Here is what the kids are worrying about, the 6th mass extinction;
    https://www.thisisinsider.com/signs-of-6th-mass-extinction-2019-3
    “Although it may not be obvious, another devastating mass extinction event is taking place today — the sixth of its kind in Earth’s history. The trend is hitting global fauna on multiple fronts, as hotter oceans, deforestation, and climate change drive animal populations to extinction in unprecedented numbers.”

  10. Joshua says:

    but really what do they want? Treat climate change as an emergency – what does that mean?

    The green new deal in the USA is stupid and counterproductive

    I isn’t know what it means, but I do know it’s stupid and counterproductive.

    Interesting logic, that.

  11. Willard,
    It does seem as though policians are taking notice of the youth strikes. They may not be able to vote now, but they will be able to in a few years.

  12. russellseitz says:

    In addition to airport security folk should encouraging their children to join the strike as a gesture of guild solidarity among kabuki operatives, UNICEF should commission climate communicators as benshi for this grand performance, which should be reinforced by replacing all international in-flight entertainment with Climate Reality telethon re-runs.

    The flight of TSA inspectors from airports to guard their children at strike events will reduce aviation CO2 emissions, by slowing security lines to a crawl and reducing the number of takeoffs.

  13. In Toronto – which is the 4th largest city in North America after Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles – it seemed surprisingly small, surprising to me, anyway. I would say 300-400.

    Which just seems disproportionate to challenge we are facing.

    Of course, it is school break for the primary and secondary school students, so most of them are probably in the Caribbean or Whistler.

  14. Willard says:

  15. John Hartz says:

    The Strike 4 Climate has generated a slew of articles and opinion pieces in the MSM throughout the world.. One of the better opinion pieces…

    Students are striking for action on climate change — a truancy everyone should applaud, Op-ed by Haven Coleman & Bill McKibben, Los Angeles Times, Mar 13, 2019

  16. Chubbs says:

    Whatever transpires, Greta has struck a chord by not pulling punches. May need to rethink climate change communication.

  17. David B. Benson says:

    One thing young people can do is plant trees, lots and lots of trees. Older folks can assist, I am sure.

  18. John says:

    Reblogged this on jpratt27 and commented:
    We must listen to the children they understand the science.

  19. Richard Arrett says:

    Willard:

    I had nukes in my original comment.

    Time to talk about meat again!

  20. Willard says:

    > I had nukes in my original comment.

    Indeed you did, RickA, and it was well done. Speaking of well done:

    At present the world is not on track to meet the SDGs by 2030 or 2050. Urgent action is required now as any delay in climate action increases the cost of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, or reversing our progress and at some point, will make them impossible.

    The report advises adopting less-meat intensive diets, and reducing food waste in both developed and developing countries, would reduce the need to increase food production by 50% to feed the projected 9-10 billion people on the planet in 2050. At present, 33 per cent of global edible food is wasted, and 56 per cent of waste happens in industrialized countries, the report states.

    https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/human-health-dire-straits-if-urgent-actions-are-not-made-protect

  21. Peter says:

    I am in awe of the organizing power of these students.

    I have a very serious question for the cynical comments here: how do you picture the transition to a climate-protecting global policy? At the moment, all we have are the inadequate promises made in Paris, and pretty much every government seems to get away with faking ambition (or worse, as in Trump-country, right out denying the problem). Somehow, this has to stop.

    And for this, I see no other way than “bottom-up” pressure. It doesn’t matter, if the students (or the general population) have a fully nuanced understanding of climate change or the difficulties of policy-making. They are demanding to prioritize climate-friendly policies. Seriously, how else can we get away from the business-as-usual politics of the last 30 years?

  22. Nelson College Full School Haka:

  23. Willard says:

    > plant trees, lots and lots of trees. Older folks can assist, I am sure.

    Here was one:

    That fantastic poet tried to restore Maui’s forests:

    In the beginning, not even native plants would grow. The land had been deforested for firewood to fuel the whaling ships that anchored by the island, and then it was used as grazing land by the settlers who stayed behind. Sugarcane fields were planted when the cattle refused to graze, furling their lips to protest the wild grasses, but it was the pineapple growers who really wrecked this valley. Because of the way they planted their pineapples, up and down instead of along the hillsides, all of the topsoil washed away. Decades of abuse, each chronicling a different period in Hawaii’s history, had leeched this land on the northern coast of Maui so much that not even native plants would grow when W. S. Merwin first tried to plant them, in the seventies.

    https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-palm-trees-and-poetry-of-w-s-merwin

  24. RickA says:

    Peter asked “I have a very serious question for the cynical comments here: how do you picture the transition to a climate-protecting global policy? ”

    I see each country’s government eventually figuring out that renewables have a limit, and that nuclear power has to provide the baseload power above that limit. I see governments spending money on fusion research and space based solar (and perhaps other non-carbon producing solutions), but until we invent solutions, building lots of nuclear power plants, and a smaller number of recycling plants to use the waste which is just sitting around on-site producing heat (which is being wasted currently).

    I don’t see protests and bottom-up stuff helping at all (although it makes the participants feel good).

  25. Willard says:

    > I see each country’s government eventually figuring out that renewables have a limit, and that nuclear power […]

    That word again:

    Oh, and Montréal rocked:

  26. John Hartz says:

    The concluding paragraphs of an insightful analysis by Matt Ford published in The New Republic magazine. It particularly resonates with me because I personally experienced the Anti Vitet Nam War Movement as a young adult. “Don’t trust anyone over 30” was one of the mantras of that era.

    The Vietnam War was a clear mortal threat to young people, tens of millions of whom were eligible to be drafted; nearly 60,000 Americans were killed in the conflict. Climate change presents a different sort of threat to millennials. It’s less immediate than an ongoing war, less visceral than being shot at. But ultimately it will prove more catastrophic. Even if drastic action is taken over the next decade, the impact of rising global temperatures on civilization will dwarf the Vietnam War’s bloodshed. The World Health Organization has projected that come 2030, climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year.

    Combatting climate change will take much more effort than ending the Vietnam War, and much longer. It will require a mass movement unlike any America, or even the world, has ever seen. It will also require millennials to succeed where the anti-war left failed a half-century ago: at the ballot box. There can’t be meaningful action as long as climate deniers and slow-walkers are in charge in Washington. The challenge will be to convince enough older voters that global warming is every bit as frightening to millennials as the Vietnam War was to boomers.

    “Adults keep saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope,’” Thunberg, who was nominated Wednesday for the Nobel Peace Prize, said in January. “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”

    Climate Change Is This Generation’s Vietnam War by Matt Ford, The New Republic, Mar 14, 2019

  27. Ken Fabian says:

    Australia’s Prime Minister, who famously waved a lump of coal around in Parliament, telling us to not be afraid, seems afraid to even say the word coal in public now, as an election looms. “Coal” is morphing in his language into “other traditional (baseload electricity) sources”. This is a Prime Minister raised to his position on the back of his Party’s rejection of leadership and policy that appeased climate concerns – not addressed it with any commitment, note; just appeased. Scott Morrison is unlikely to be PM after the next election – the continuing high levels of apathy, ignorance and denial and the effective use of alarmist economic fear and distraction by raising hot button issues (refugees or terrorists mostly) by partisan-political news media were making it less than a certainty, but raising the climate issue profile works against them.

    I think this conveniently timed school strike for climate keeps the issue high in voter’s minds, and may just make a real difference to voter sentiment in the upcoming Australian election. I think we are witnessing a tipping point in action – the more airtime the issue gets, the more the disconnect between the conservative position and reality is brought to light the more votes it loses them; that has not been the case in past elections.

    Of course it remains to be seen if the Australian Labor Party will see a real (electoral) need to have an especially strong climate policy when the Liberal National Party’s has none at all – but the school strike may see resolve to face the issue strengthened despite the widespread wish the issue was someone else’s to deal with. By the time the election after that comes around lots of those students will be voting.

  28. Chubbs,

    May need to rethink climate change communication.

    Well, I think we can learn something from this, but I’m not convinced that anyone could have predicted that this would have been successful in advance. Similarly, even if we have some ideas of what can work, and what doesn’t, I still don’t think we can be confident of some optimal strategy in the future.

  29. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    This made me laugh…

  30. In case my comment earlier was lumped in with the “cynical comments”…

    The Toronto group and organizers are wondering about the low turnout.

    Toronto is conspicuously absent from this video coverage of Canadian events today.

    It was a pretty ragtag group for a city the size of Toronto, and I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed and disappointed…


  31. John Hartz says:

    Another MSM photo album with an informative introduction…

    Youth activists from all over the world skipped school on Friday to urgently demand elected officials take action to combat the climate crisis. The international day of protest started in the South Pacific and moved west, as tens of thousands of students mobilize to make their voices heard.

    The movement gained momentum last summer when Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg left school on a Friday to hand out fliers outside the Swedish parliament. She has since inspired young people all over the world to follower her example by protesting in their own countries, with signs reading, “It’s Our Future!” and “Make My Planet Great Again!” and “There’s No Planet B!”

    Friday’s protest occurred in more than 112 countries, including the U.S. The organization spearheading U.S. involvement is called Youth Climate Strike U.S. (YCSUS). It’s led by teen activists Isra Hirsi, Alexandria Villaseñor, Maddy Fernands, and Haven Coleman. ELLE.com spoke with the girls, who said it is one of the biggest environmental school strikes in history. They recruited organizers from almost all 50 states in the U.S., and fundraised over $9,000 for permits and equipment.

    Here are some of the most inspiring images from the global demonstration.

    Powerful Images of the Youth Climate Strike Around the World by Rose Minutaglio, Elle, Mar 15, 2019

  32. izen says:

    @-RA
    ” Fusion. Massive power storage. Getting power down to the ground from space based solar. ”

    All those have at least a twenty year lead time before they could be viable. Fusion has had a twenty year predicted lead time since the 1960s…

    The problem is now generally seen as one in which emissions have to be curtailed as fast as possible as soon as possible.
    Suggesting the solution is technology not yet developed, never mind ready to be deployed at the scale required seems… odd.

    Your favoured solution of nuclear fission power also suffers from the timescale problem. Although it might be theoretically possible to build up a small contribution, recent events make it clear that subsidising renewable energy sources is a much faster and cheaper way of increasing carbon free generation than trying to persuade commercial enterprise to build and run nuclear plant.

    It would be much faster, cheaper and more effective in reducing CO2 emissions to reduce red meat consumption amongst those who are presently consuming 3-4 times as much as is healthy.

  33. russellseitz says:

    Climate Change Is This Generation’s Vietnam War by Matt Ford, The New Republic, Mar 14, 2019

    Just when the Cambodians thought they were safe.

  34. Willard says:

    > Just when the Cambodians thought they were safe.

    I thought you were an engineer or something, Russell:

  35. This is a heartwarming collection of materials. Thanks especially to Willard for the stove lesson and poet/treeplanter W.S. Merwin.

  36. BBD says:

    RickA still ignoring the fact that even the World Nuclear Association doesn’t think nuclear can ramp up to much beyond ~25% of world electricity generation by 2050.

    One day, this industry fact will break Rick’s world. Or maybe not. Never underestimate the power of denialism to blot out inconvenient facts.

  37. BBD says:

    @Willard, thanks for the W.S. Merwin poem.

  38. Magma says:

    We really do need a better class of climate “skeptic”. — ATTP

    A perennial lament. But maybe after 30 years of waiting in vain, we could decide we don’t need them at all and move on. Easier said than done, I know, but over the past few years I’ve stopped pulling my punches when the subject of climate change skepticism comes up. “Mostly nonsense from right-wing idiots” is my stock answer now, which sometimes surprises people expecting a carefully hedged scientific response.

  39. John Hartz says:

    Another impressive photo album is embedded in….

    Students globally protest warming, pleading for their future by Frank Jordans & Seth Borenstein, AP News, Mar 15, 2019

  40. It is written: “The green new deal in the USA is stupid and counterproductive (especially without nuclear).”

    … And the way we are currently doing it isn’t insanely self-destructive?
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    It is written: “They’re kids. They can’t vote. They have no power—other than to shout out how badly adults are screwing up their future. Maybe in ten years they will be part of the solution, >>> but for now it’s adults who needs to pull their fingers out.”

    Adults? Where are they? Look at our global political economic situations, consider current business and political leaders and their priorities. Consider the state of political discourse no matter which arena. Thin-skinned self-serving and short-sighted ciphers. There are a few bright lights out there, but not many and the media machine seems intent on destroying them.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    As for ATTP’s thread and kids rising up and protesting. Hell yes, that’s what the youth is supposed to do.

    But then I’m proud to say I was an all-in participant during the first Earth Day, timed perfectly for my Freshman year of high school and first science classes where I learned the simple to understand fundamentals of climate science and what society (that is we collectively and cumulatively) were doing to our own global life support systems.

    Many were idealistic, but seems to me over the decades pretty much all sold out. Between pumping out babies as fast as possible and justifying our collective lust for ‘too much’ with a degeneration back into faith-based delusional thinking, be it “god” dogmas or “libertarianism” and fantasy thinking.

    Time and age matters,
    While my young generation was aware of the polluting, land/ocean/sky degradation and crowding along with its terrifying implications for the coming decades and centuries, we still had a world that was somewhat wide open and welcoming for the adventurous to run off to and start a new.

    Today teenagers have a very different reality awaiting them.

    Increasingly we’re going to be living in a world increasingly dominated by catastrophic weather roulette, while the political-social fabric continues its current unraveling. The geophysical trends of the past decades won’t do anything but intensify, we had our chance for moderating the rate of change, we chose ‘peddle to the metal.’ .

    Seems to me mental health issues and strategies for spiritually and humanistically surviving in an increasingly dying world is something we need to start contemplating seriously.

  41. John Hartz says:

    As eloquently articulated by Sophie Sleeman, there are reasons to be hopeful about the human race’s ability to mitigate man-made climate change…

    What I see all around me is what I call climate momentum: people from New Zealand to Norway stepping up their response to climate change. I see pipeline blockades in Canada and the US, I see investors backing off from fracking and coal, I see universities and pension funds divesting from fossil fuel, I see solar farms and wind turbines going in all over the world and engineers working to make the technologies better, I see lawsuits against oil companies and coal companies, I see politicians, newspaper editorialists, businesspeople and others who have power under the usual rules getting on board in a way they never have before. There is so much happening, in so many ways, to respond to the biggest disaster our species has ever faced.

    It is not yet enough, but it is a sign that more and more are facing the catastrophe and are doing something about it. I don’t know what will happen, because what will happen is what we make happen. That is why there’s a global climate strike today. This is why I’ve started saying, Don’t ask what will happen. Be what happens. Today, you are what is happening. Today, your power will be felt. Today, your action matters. Today in your individual action you may stand with a few people or with hundreds, but you stand with billions around the world. Today you are standing up for people not yet born, and those ghostly billions are with you too. Today you are the force of possibility that runs through the present like a river through the desert.

    Climate justice is breaking down the walls that divide the world, Opinion by Sophie Sleeman, Comment is Free, Guardian, Mar 15, 2019

  42. Willard says:

  43. Steven Mosher says:

    W.S. Merwin?

    dead? fuck.

  44. Pingback: The BBC’s lack of balance | …and Then There's Physics

  45. Kestrel27 says:

    [Thank you for your concerns. -W]

  46. Anthony,
    An analysis by Tim Ball? That’s really funny.

  47. Anthony,
    Just out of interest, what do you make of the first sentence of Tim’s post?

    Most people were taken in by the false story of human-caused global warming.

    That would seem to be implying that human-caused global warming is false. I thought you didn’t dispute anthropogenically-driven global warming.

  48. Willard says:

  49. Willard says:

    Crowd campaigns never work

  50. John Hartz says:

    Willard: Any thoughts on why the turnout in Montreal was so huge and the one in Toronto so miniscule?

  51. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I thought you didn’t dispute anthropogenically-driven global warming.

    In all fairness, he clearly doesn’t.

    Except when he does.

  52. Willard says:

    > Any thoughts on why the turnout in Montreal was so huge and the one in Toronto so miniscule?

    Rust covered it earlier: it is school break for the primary and secondary school students, so most of them are probably in the Caribbean or Whistler. It was school day here. You might like:

  53. Steven Mosher says:

    Its clear to me that the children have done a much better job of communicating the problem
    than scientists have.

    delete your accounts

  54. Steven Mosher says:

  55. Willard says:

    > children have done a much better job of communicating the problem […]

    Will Connolly (!!), who’s 17, might take eggception;

  56. BBD says:

    Its clear to me that the children have done a much better job of communicating the problem
    than scientists have.

    delete your accounts

    Where did the kidz get the science info from? Scientists.

    Luckily, the kidz didn’t get bamboozled by your book and all the other crap that tried to undermine scientists and by extension, what they were trying to say.

  57. I’d actually quite like to know if anyone can link consensus messaging and maybe even deficit model thinking to the school climate strikes? How did they develop their understanding and what motivated them to engage in these strikes?

  58. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I suspect that science teachers played a role as well as the MSM and social media.

  59. Steven Mosher says:

    “Where did the kidz get the science info from? Scientists.”

    Yes I know they read Nature. I said delete your accounts, not burn down the publishers.

    we only have 12 years, then poof !

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    any way discussing communications strategies is fun. I’d relate it to climategate,
    however I am assure by Joshua that the event had no impact while at the same time
    am assured by others, Susan perhaps, that I somehow destroyed the planet

  60. Willard says:

    > Yes I know they read Nature. I said delete your accounts, not burn down the publishers.

    Doctors might need to be cancelled too:

  61. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    I am assure by Joshua that the event had no impact

    I must not have expressed myself clearly. I haven’t intended to assure you that the event had no impact.

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