Notes on the day of the Climate Strike

Blue sky, green field, smiles, chants, and discussions happening all around the beautiful Meadows in central Edinburgh. 

It’s the 20th of September, the anticipated start of Climate week of Fall 2019, and thousands from across the city and country have gathered in this rally to fight for Climate Justice. The time is eleven o’clock in the morning and people of all ages are taking the day off from work, university, school, or simply their daily lives, to join in the worldwide movement and make their voices heard in this mass protest. The strikers’ trek through Scotland’s capital has been planned to begin by the park alongside the University, run all along The Royal Mile, past the Scottish parliament, and end at the esteemed Holyrood park situated at the bottom of Arthur’s seat. Here speeches are to be given by various local activists and leaders of environmental foundations. The general air is vibrant and filled with excitement for this day of unity between people and planet. 

Image 1: Marchers outside the Scottish Parliament

With an estimated 200 million climate refugees predicted by 2050, global concentration should arguably be focused on the climate crisis that looms upon us. Yet, as the popularity of climate strikes continue to amplify globally, change for a better future seems almost tangible. If action is taken by those in power, we no longer have to hope for but we can enjoy a carbon neutral world. 

Change for the future is, arguably, epitomised in the definite shift in our societal attitude regarding ‘saving the Earth’. The old-fashioned notion of hippies holding flower power placards has catalysed into a global movement in which an estimated 1.4 million school children are protesting weekly against the current climate crisis. That number is only set to increase.

Speaking to students at the strike, whom are currently attending the University of Edinburgh, there was a general tone of frustration at the little action governments have yet taken against climate crisis. First year Anna Stenning is one particular student who has witnessed first-hand the damaging effects of drought as a result of the climate crisis in her home country Kenya. Her statement: ‘If we don’t do anything, nothing will change’ encapsulates the urgency of the climate crisis. As all too many students are aware, we have an 11 year countdown to prevent, in Greta Thunerberg words, “an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control”.” 

However, the variety of people striking in Scotland’s capital demonstrates the unanimity of the climate crisis fight. One especially inspiring 85 year old, Mr Frances, admitted to struggling from severe back pain, yet he marched stoically onwards claiming ‘I’m not doing this for myself – I’m doing it for my grandchildren’. Such selfless attitudes were palpable as you looked around the march; thousands of students sacrificing lectures to join the floods of people down the Royal Mile, and mums taking days off work to march with their children. 

One young members of the strike encountered on the day was a local boy, Glenn, aged 9, who announced that he was missing out on a day of school in order to join the movement. Along with him were his little sister and mother; the latter proudly announced that her son was the main reason for the family being there today and that he in fact, is their personal environmentalist; “Always making us walk everywhere and never letting us use the car when he’s around.” As seen in the image below Glenn is passionate about preventing further rise of temperatures in the Arctic: an impressively knowledgeable view considering he is yet to complete Junior school, and one that should without a doubt be shared by governments globally.

Image 2: young Environmentalist Glenn & his family

Possibly the epitome of self-sacrificing for the good of our globe: a ‘Scotland needs Trees’ worker confided that she had transitioned from her job as a veterinary nurse to work with the environmentally concerned company despite having trained as a vet for over six years. Such dedication beckons the question of how actively, and to what measures, we should all be involved in order to protect the planet?

The purely engaging strike will be followed up with open events throughout the following week; including school held educational talks on Tuesday, further protests outside the parliament on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th, as well as another strike on Friday the 27th (inspired, of course, by the Friday school strike pioneer Greta Thunberg). 

A new generation of passionate, environmentally aware people is on the rise, and it’s time for the rest of the world to join in and  act with them. Our time for change is limited, our time for change is now.

Image 3: A passionate UoE student at the march

 

Images: via Patricia Kohring and Louise Elliott

Related News

Say something

The Student Newspaper 2016