After the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, David Roberts from VOX News, posted on the March for Science Facebook Group)
Watching something that took centuries to develop, something that can never entirely be recreated, disappear in the comparative blink of an eye – that, in slow motion is going to be the dominant feeling of the 21st century. Only instead of buildings: glaciers, forests, species.
I would add that the deaths of tens of millions of people fighting for resources is another likely outcome of unchecked Climate Change.
It is curious what captures the human imagination.
Over $1 billion has been pledged by wealthy donors and corporations to restore Notre Dame. I do not begrudge the emotional connection that many have for this iconic Paris building. I wonder how to focus international imagination on taking steps to avert climate disaster.
Teen Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg commented:
“Yesterday, the whole world witnessed with sadness and despair the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris, but Notre-Dame will be rebuilt,” she said in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “I hope it has strong foundations and I hope we have strong foundations, but I’m not so sure.”
“I want to make you panic, I want you to act as if your house was on fire,” she said. “A lot of politicians have told me that panicking does not do any good. I agree, but when your house is on fire and you want to prevent it from collapsing, it is better to panic a little.”
“If your house were falling apart, you would no longer fly around the world in business class,” said the high school student, who came to Strasbourg by train from Stockholm. “You would not organize three emergency summits on Brexit and none on climate change.”
“Well, our house is falling apart and yet nothing is happening. We’ll have to switch to cathedral mode. I ask you to wake up and do what is necessary,” she said.
Cathedrals can be restored and so can the Earth’s climate, but necessary action on Climate Change is proceeding all too slowly.
Yet I do find hope in the words and actions of Greta Thunberg and the movement that she started, “Youth Climate Strike”.
Last month I attended a “Youth Climate Strike” gathering at the Capitol protesting the lack of action to combat Climate Change. This rekindled feelings that change is indeed possible.
About 1,500 youth were there with older folk hovering around the sidelines. The organizers determined that to counteract the lack of women in leadership positions, all of today’s presenters would be women, as are the three leaders of Youth Climate Strike.
It was energizing to hear “Generation Z” articulate many of the problems that face us and how they are interrelated. Here are some of the words that I heard:
Gen Z must confront: Climate Change, Racism, Classism, Colonialism, and Capitalism. Shake the system to the ground. Confront pollution. Eliminate single use plastic. Gen Z will be the first generation to experience the devastating effects of climate change.
Take back the Earth. Take it to the streets. Take it to the polls.
Climate Justice/Climate Action/Right to a livable Planet
Climate Justice, poverty, pollution – all are connected.
Invitations were sent to women in Congress to address the gathering. Ilhan Omar was the only person who showed up. Here are some of her words:
I ran on the Green New Deal. We cannot let fossil fuel CEO’s dictate how we use our planet. We cannot let this administration continue to put corporate interests over taking action to reduce global carbon levels.
I have introduced a Bill to end $20 billion in corporate welfare. This $20 billion will instead end homelessness in this country.
Representative Omar then turned to podium over to her teenage daughter, Isra Hirsi, who is one of the three national leaders of Youth Climate Strike. She spoke about how her climate activism began by joining the Green Club in her high school. She was the only person of color in the group. At first she did not fit in, but she stuck it out and became a national leader.
There were several interesting crowd chants that punctuated breaks in the presentations. My favorite was this call and response:
Solid as a Rock
Rooted as a Tree
We are here
In our rightful place
I was inspired by the dedication and commitment of the people at this event to wok to ward saving the planet and ourselves.
After this gathering, my spirit was lifted and I smiled on my 12-mile bike ride home.
- Randy Best