Will high school students save our planet?

We are at the point where students are the ones raising awareness and reminding older generations on the importance of taking care of our environment. Global eco-movement on climate crisis School Strike 4 Climate has spread throughout the world in 2019. There have already been three protests in several Croatian cities.

The movement (also known as Fridays for Future) started in August of 2018 when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg decided to spend her school days sitting in front of the Swedish parliament. Her goal was to draw the attention of the authorities and push them to take action on global warming. Thanks to the power of social media, her story has gone viral and youth around the world got involved.

Fridays for Future was best received and supported by the youth because their future is at stake. They are unhappy for the lack of adequate education: school curriculum in Croatia does not cover climate change as an important topic. The question is then what is the point of investing in education if the voice of the educated is ignored by the authorities.

With the aim of preventing further devastation of our planet, strikes in Zagreb were organized by 17-year-old student Laura Skala. At the first protest, she addressed 2.000 people saying: “Politicians, I’m asking you - what measures did you take? Have you banned single-use plastic? Have you invested in solar energy or wind power? Have you implemented a reform on climate change? No, you have not done any of it. You are either going to respond to the problem or ignore it. But we, we are going to react.” 

Despite politicians underrating the situation, Laura and her colleagues are not giving up: “We haven’t made an impact on the government yet but we reached a lot of people. At least for a day, the strike was the biggest media news in our country. People who haven’t previously heard about now want to get involved. Media outlets which never covered this issue are now reporting and following these events. Even in schools, professors started talking about climate change in class. I think that’s already a good impact and hopefully, it will affect our government too.”

Laura also told us that strikes will continue in September and pointed out how important it is to join them: “We held 3 strikes so far but we are not doing it regularly and continuously as other countries are. Hopefully, at least one person throughout our movement realized that we are dealing with a serious problem and that we need new laws and people to enforce them. We are fighting the crisis and we have to rise against it together!”

Global warming is not something we are only now discovering. We are familiar with the greenhouse effect and climate change since the ’60s but little was done to prevent its further progress. From the beginning of the 21st century, there were more CO2 emissions than ever before in history and the global temperature has risen for 0,5 C°. Each year 27 million people are displaced due to the climate catastrophes and suffering social and economic consequences. Furthermore, UNHCR has predicted that, as a result of extreme climate conditions, lack of water, environmental degradation and natural resources conflicts, 250 million people will be displaced by the end of 2050. 

At the same time, who has created all the mess? One hundred world companies are responsible for emitting 71% of CO2 in the atmosphere. Politicians who didn’t respond to this problem for decades are the ones responsible for this. Professors who didn’t teach children about it are responsible as well. People pretending everything is going to be fine are also responsible. We all are.

Unfortunately, we cannot completely stop the negative effects of climate change, but we have to decrease the consequences that will affect all of us unless we do something about it today. To prevent catastrophes, fossil fuels must stay below the ground - we need to stop using and burning it. We must stop deforestation and producing methane. Governments have to adopt laws that encourage using substitutes for fossil fuels such as solar power, wind power, and other renewable energy sources.

It is a long way ahead to carry out all these things in Croatia, but we in Brodoto strongly support these efforts. For example, when we do event management, all of our events are carbon neutral with no single-use plastics. Also, we joined the fight for saving our planet by turning deserted land on Vis island into a sustainable eco-project named Stonefish

Remember, each one of us can find a way to contribute! Take small steps every day - bring a tote bag to the grocery store instead of buying plastic ones. Don’t forget to turn off the light and your air conditioning before leaving home. Tell the waiter you don’t want a straw in your drink. But take the bigger steps as well - join local climate strikes, donate to environmental organizations and vote for those who care about preventing further negative climate changes. 

All in all, remind yourself every day that as long as we live on this planet, our responsibility is to treat it the best we can!

Written on:

September 4, 2019