System Change, Not Climate Change

Fridays For Future Worldwide Climate Strike Is Happening Today

CS Sherin, March 15, 2019

Photo by David Tong, Global Youth Climate Strike, March 19, 2019, Wellington NZ. CC

Today, in over 100 countries around the world, and in nearly 2000 cities, youth are on strike from school — due to the current climate change emergency, and the lack of appropriate action taken by adults around the world.

Many of the signs held up by the youth say, “System Change, Not Climate Change”. This movement has grown quickly due to the leadership of 16 year old Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, who has been holding global decision-makers accountable on the global stage for the past year. Thunberg, who has experienced depression related to climate change, is an eloquent, sincere, and powerful speaker who has helped to motivate a global movement of young people.

The changes needed to address climate change now, and the root causes of it are explained in this previous blog post.

Fridays For Future #FFF, is a part of the Climate Strike movement that is now taking place. Children see no point in being in school to prepare for their future when there may be no reasonable future for them to live in. This is a valid concern and grounds for the strike. Fridays For Future is an anchor for ongoing activism that is meant to be a catalyst for deep and widespread positive change.

The ways of life and systems that adults in the world are accustomed to are no longer viable approaches. The American way of living in excess, waste, and revolving debt is over. We are burying ourselves alive in suffocating plastic, if we continue with it. If we want to preserve humanity, biodiversity, and healthy ways to live and thrive for the long-term, the norm way of life has to change quickly and majorly. Extinctions, irreversible change, and more and more unpredictable and severe weather changes will render humanity and life of countless and myriad other species and life forms endangered and destroyed.

This is in large part due to the corporations, manufacturers, and monopolies of power and control who continue to push destructive, toxic, unsustainable practices and energy sources to the point of the climate emergency we currently face. Plastics manufacturers plan on increasing the production of single use plastics in the next ten years. Fossil fuel interests continue to dominate and block a swift and inclusive renewable clean energy transition for the majority. These same interests are often the same ones who are violating the rights and lives of Indigenous peoples around the world, who are actively protecting resources and habitats.

Another major factor is that the majority of adults in the world continue with business as usual, as if the emergency is not real enough to protest. Dysfunctional ways of life continue.

Climate action needs to take precedence over our current systems and structures. Our current systems dictate a way of life that is mostly outdated, unjust, unhealthy, unsustainable, and destructive for the long-term. In addition, businesses, government (local and all other), institutions, and organizations (of all kinds) may take some initiative to be sustainable and green, while also clinging to toxic and damaging products and practices (single-use items, waste, fossil fuels, toxins, pesticides and herbicides, meat and dairy, plastics and synthetic fibers) for the sake of conformity/norms and profit. Too many exceptions are made. Too many policies and ordinances protect practices that are literally laying waste to our water, air, ecosystems, communities, and collective health.

Green businesses are inspiration and leaders for others, yet they also, too often, turn a blind eye to some of their own practices and products that are profitable, but not truly Green. Many Green businesses are actively contributing to microfiber and micro-plastic pollution (which is devastating and choking life and health of water and beings that depend upon it in all its forms), giving misleading solutions to customers and clients who may not know better. Ethics and principles are sacrificed for selfish fears, profit and demand. The commercialization of this urgent movement leaves many aspects compromised due to the corruption that is greenwashing. Trying to solve these serious problems inside of a dysfunctional and unfair system will always lead to these kinds of disappointments and undesired ethical erosion.

The strikes taking place now by the world’s youth may be the momentum of conviction we all need in order to have the courage to face what needs to be done.

Greenpeace (on Twitter and IG), The Guardian, the BBC, and the Intercept are all doing a great job of covering the Climate Strike today. I recommend reading, “Young People Feel Betrayed By Adults Over The Climate Crisis. Today, They’re Going On Strike” by Sharon Lerner. That particular article covers the movement, and also the reality of anxiety and depression that results from: understanding the depth of corruption we are living with, which is actively preventing the majority of people from doing what is necessary and right to mitigate disaster and proactively preserve life, health, and future.

Other outlets are covering the strike, but not in great detail of it’s scope, and often describing the kids as “skipping school” without giving enough context to establish the importance and legitimacy of the action.

Also today, New Zealand reels from this most recent terrorism of hate via gun violence (that is plaguing this world), and some of the youth of New Zealand are a part of the Climate Strike march today. The youth of New Zealand are showing their insistence, plea, and desire for a global adult community that can take some of the burden off of their shoulders. It is a burden that overshadows everything they do and hope for these days, as it does for us all who are aware and present. Many of us have been aware and active about this for decades, with little or no cooperation from mainstream society — often being labeled and belittled. The ongoing awareness and linked depression and anxiety has been a reality for many of us all that time.

There are many adults around the world who are aware and coping with the associated grief, depression, anger, and anxiety related to this climate emergency. We face a blockade of corruption and elite power-holders and decision-makers intent on blocking sane action, and actively increasing the use of all that contributes to this climate emergency. This is an emergency, and we do need to act. This is not something that one person can do. This has to be a collective effort.

Individually, some of us who have been doing this for decades have gone as far as we can personally, and it is glaringly obvious that the action that needs to be taken is on the level of corporate, government, etc.

The powers that be need to be divested from and held accountable, in every sector. Our lifestyles and dysfunctional systems need to change in healthy and life-giving ways, as soon as possible.

It is never too late to do what is right.

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