"I'm missing my math test for this," reads a placard held high amongst the throng of youngsters gathered for a peaceful demonstration.
Triggered by the adults' callousness toward deadly climatic changes, school students are taking a day off from their classes to participate in the second session of Global Strike for Climate on Friday. With a record participation by 1,263 localities across 107 countries, students are set to march, shout slogans, raise placards, and show their solidarity and concern over growing climatic issues.
A 15-year old from Sweden made headlines in 2018 when she sat outside Riksdag, the Swedish Parliament, with a banner that read 'School Strike For Climate.' She continued to strike every Friday during her school hours since August.
Greta Thunberg became the young face for climate change and her coinage 'Fridays For Future' and 'School Strike For Climate' became global slogans and popular hashtags amongst eco-enthusiast Twitterati and other social media users.
Asperger syndrome did not inhibit her; rather it helped her see the world differently, focus unwaveringly on her interest which helped her amass information on climate change across the world, and refuse to back down from her efforts at making people not just aware, but initiate action. Seeing how climate threat can lead to war and conflicts in future, her efforts at indirectly instilling peace made her a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2019. Her fiery speeches extolling 'people to panic and not just hope at the UN Climate Change Conference and World Economic Forum, Davos, were well received by the audience, however scathing her remarks were.
The official website for Fridays For Future requests people to "strike in front of the closest town hall on Fridays." It also requests the organisers to team up with local NGOs for efficiency and safety and to engage only in sitting protest or peaceful demonstrations. The community connects, supports, and encourages each protest, wherever in the world, through social media and relevant hashtags.
Thunberg and volunteers question the need for pressing on education, if there will be no future left to earn and live for. Governments and authority figures were divided in their support to the school strikes, many even announcing action against students and teachers involved in the protests. The equally spirited protestors respond back saying they would have been in schools if the politicians had done their job.
Carbon dioxide emissions have been escalating drastically, temperatures are soaring resulting in forest fires and droughts, and climate patterns are undergoing tremendous change affecting rainfall and increasing chances of floods. Thunberg herself was spurred into action by the alarming heatwave and wildfires in her country. However, climate remains a secondary concern for politicians world over, as they focus on economic reforms and development.
Extinction Rebellion India joined hands with Thunberg's campaign to lead protest events in India. Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, is a primary venue for the strike naturally, and students actively participated in the strikes. Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Gurugram and other places in India are expected to participate actively. Delhi and 30 other small cities and towns had participated in the first edition of the global strike held on March 15 this year and about hundred countries participated through school strikes. Apart from global strikes, individual strikes ar held across as well.
Climate has been one of the most persistent worrisome issues of past many years and the more we delay our actions to rectify the harm done so far, situations are going to get more severe to handle. Citizens and governments should be equally aware of climate problems and start individual steps at conservation and reducing carbon footprint. While such campaigns as Thunberg's is mighty important, kids and citizens must make sure that it does not become a one-day strike or movement, but its core ideals are cherished and furthered consistently.
Greta Thunberg is an inspiration to many and the young harbinger of change rightly deserved her position on the Times magazine cover enlisting her and others as Next Generation Leaders 2019.
(Opinions expressed are personal)