Chris Knight

School strike mobilizes tens of thousands

Chris Knight
School strike mobilizes tens of thousands

February 15, 2019. Tens of thousands of schoolchildren are today going on strike and taking to the streets in rebellion against climate crime.

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Schoolkids show the way

Here’s the nightmare. It’s now 2030, just eleven years away.

It’s become clear that the entire planet is on a downward spiral to catastrophe. The seas are set to turn acid, the melting of the glaciers is accelerating, floods, fires and hurricanes are making swathes of the world uninhabitable, the surge of refugees from hard-hit areas is becoming unmanageable and – turning to our companion species – not only many birds, fish and land animals but the entire population of insects seem to be dwindling toward extinction. We’ve passed the tipping-point and now it’s too late to do anything about it. In school, young people will be learning in their physics lessons that it may not be possible to plan a future. Many of the girls will be deciding not to have babies.

What is clear is that we have only a few years to prevent this nightmare from becoming true. There is no longer any doubt within the scientific community: the alarm bells are ringing that humanity has eleven years at most. Those in the Labour Party who are not scientists or whose political outlook was shaped in an earlier era may find such forecasts hard to believe. But our schoolkids have got it. And they are now way ahead of us all.

On Friday February 15 I went with two of my grandchildren to Parliament Square. As we arrived, it was like the noisiest playground I have ever been in. Children of all ages were raising their home-made placards, jumping up and down and singing choruses of ‘Oooohhhh, Jeremy Corbyn!’ The placards displayed bitter humour:

“I’m getting a detention 4 this!”

“What’s the point in teaching me history if I’ve got no future?”

“Can’t go to school if it’s under water”

“I am 14 years old and want a future!”,

“Drown our voices = drown our futures”,

“Make love, not emissions!”,

“If the climate was a bank it would have been saved by now”,

Among the several thousand outside Parliament were children as young as five or six, right up to eighteen year-olds. The media cameras and microphones were all turned on, voraciously interviewing children, and I was constantly taken aback by the kids’ level of factual knowledge and sure grasp of the implications for their future. Not only are they fluent with the science, they have decided to act on it. Sick of politicians’ promises and the passivity of most scientists, they want action now.

One of the striking things about this demonstration, so different from others, was that girls significantly outnumbered boys. But even so, the police had the horses out. My granddaughter tells me she felt frightened sitting in the road outside No 10 Downing Street as a car tried to edge its way through.

The school strike involved more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall. My grandkids have now become part of a Europe-wide rebellion which started in Sweden last summer with one lone girl standing outside her school. Britain has been a bit slow to join in, but with any luck, the rest of us adults will follow her lead and help spread that strike across the world.

Join Extinction Rebellion

XR is an international movement that aims to drive radical change, through nonviolent resistance, in order to avert climate breakdown, halt biodiversity loss and minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse. Shortly before Christmas, we succeeded in occupying and closing all the bridges in Central London for a day. Recruiting all the time, we plan a number of even bigger mass actions across Britain for April 2019.

Support our children! Make sure that nightmare was just a warning. It’s nearly too late, but it need not happen if we join the rebellion now. Here is the website: https://xrebellion.org

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Dulwich and West Norwood CLP