Thursday, 3 October 2019

Talking to Youth at Global Climate Strike

By Henry Beissel,  HenryBeissel.com  (His 5th appearance on my blog)

On September 27, 2019, I joined the young folk who decided to march in Ottawa, protesting the duplicity of politicians who talk about climate change, but do nothing to prevent an ultimate environmental disaster.

128 Wellington street, at O'Conner street, next to Parliament Hill, Ottawa.
Photo by Dr. Lev Tarasov.

At first, I felt a little out of place as I walked with boys and girls whose great grandfather I could be. I also felt that some of them looked at me askance and I'm not sure that I didn't see a glint in their eyes signalling: ‘Hey, old man, we're inheriting this mess from you!’

It may just have been my conscience. It's true that I've seen the climate crisis creeping up on us for almost half a century and I have raised my voice in protest on various occasions and in various media. But it is also true that I haven't done enough to prevent this disastrous environmental crisis from spinning out of control.

Anyway, as the young folk were standing around on the hill, waving their signs and occasionally breaking into some protest slogans, I walked up to some smaller groups to thank them for having both the insight and the courage to make their voices heard against the current Climate Change. I thanked them, saying that they made one of my dreams come true, that the young would rise up against those who triggered the crisis and refused to take the necessary steps to end it.

That broke the ice, and I chatted with a number of groups and found them determined to continue protesting until the politicians would listen and introduce the changes necessary to prevent an environmental disaster.

I ended each of my conversations with a warning.
‘Don't trust the politicians’. I said, ‘they will make you all kinds of promises even while they have no intention of keeping them — so long as they can stop you marching and protesting.’
I was astonished but pleased to hear that they had no illusions about the duplicity of politicians.
‘If they think’, one of them said, ‘they can silence us with empty promises, they have another thing coming. Just wait and see!’
On the whole, my conversations with the protesters gave me new hope. They have a healthy skepticism towards politicians and they're not going to give up until there is tangible action against climate change.

My final warning to them was:
‘Action against climate change at the government level is extremely important, but ultimately we can prevent a disastrous environmental collapse only if all of us, that is all of you and the rest of the people, lower their demands on the world. You must be prepared to reduce your standard of living, you must be content with less, drive less, travel less, consume less if climate change is not to destroy us all.’
That astonished some of them and I could see I'd given them something to think about. I hope some of them realized that protesting is not enough, we must also be prepared to change our way of life to live within the limits of what nature can provide, especially for a species in a state of population explosion.

Images

15 photos by co-marchers, sister and brother: Tamara Tarasoff and Dr. Lev Tarasov.

Videos by Ken Kensky Billings, Digileak Canada, of four groups at the Climage Strike Protest on Parliament Hill: