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George Monbiot and young climate activists answer your questions – live George Monbiot and young climate activists answer your questions – live
(32 minutes later)
JayBurton asks:
These students [striking today] are an inspiration to all of us! It gives me hope to see this, and I have participated in many climate marches throughout the years as well. But I recently developed a “why bother” mindset. It feels futile when I see the damage we are doing, year after year. My question is, how can we build on these marches and global buzz to create meaningful change?
It's fantastic to see the hope that the Youth Strikes are inspiring across the world. If anything, young people's actions are dismantling the debilitating notion that one individual can't make a big enough change. We're seeing individuals around the world, standing up in solidarity with one another to fight for a better world. What we need now is for people of all ages to rise up, put pressure on politicians, powerful actors and the big corporations. We need to disrupt the status quo to create a better world for people, and planet. Jake - UKSCN
andyeverywhere says:
If you want to save the world, you have to change the Western model of society fundamentally before we allow the developing world the comforts of modern life. If we don’t, and we can agree the developing world must not adopt the present Western style of living, where educated, modern countries with low birth rates still manage to use up the bulk of resources, why isn’t multiple cohabitation the most important tool to fix this planet?
why isn't multiple cohabitation the most important tool to fix this planet?
I'm glad you raised this: not many people dare to. While I don't believe it's the most important tool, I do believe it's an important one.
Until very recently in human history, cohabitation was the norm. We have, to an extent, lost the art of living together, and I've seen plenty of shared housing arrangements break down over the washing up and similarly trivial issues. But I've also seen some wonderful examples of cohabitation working, and people creating strong and loving bonds with the other members of the wide household. Not only do they greatly reduce their consumption by sharing equipment, heating, cooking etc, but it can also be an excellent way of counteracting one of the great blights of our age: loneliness.
EnricUitHilversum asks:
Children and youth are striking to demand action. But many are themselves involved in one of the most damaging practices towards earth’s climate, I mean consuming massive amounts of meat and diary in their diets. What is their thought on this regard?
I think that there's a common and developing understanding among the younger generation that we all need to reduce our consumption of animal-based food products. Creating the world we need to see requires action from all of us, but ultimately the system we live in is at fault. Personal lifestyle choices are good and encouraged, but to avert catastrophic climate breakdown it alone won't be enough.
Janet, 60, in Berkshire, asks:
I totally support the young climate strikers and hope the campaign grows in strength around the world to be deafening to governments and corporations alike. I fear though that it could be drowned out, any impact diminished, by others (older activists) that take the headlines with actions that capture headlines, such as pouring fake blood at Downing Street. Do you see movements such as Extinction Rebellion and their stated “civil disobedience” as a help or hindrance to the youth movement?
I see the Extinction Rebellion actions as another essential and highly effective form of protest. I don’t accept the idea that only one group should represent the issue to the public mind at any time, or that the dramatic but entirely non-violent protests by XR detract from what the youth climate strikers are doing.
On the contrary, I think these actions are mutually reinforcing, strengthening the sense that we are facing an emergency, and politics as usual is unacceptable. In the face of extraordinary indifference – and often denial – by politicians and the media, we need to take every opportunity to put these issues where they belong: at the front of people’s minds.
thesnufkin asks:
Are students naive to be asking politicians to be the agents of change? Was Greta Thunberg more on the ball when she went to Davos to speak to the one percent?
We need both the corporate actors and politicians to be held to account to make the change we need to see in the world. Would the 1% change unless there was profit to be obtained? It seems unlikely, which means we need to change the very system itself which is the cause of the climate crisis we find ourselves in. Jake - UKSCN
severnsider61 asks:severnsider61 asks:
Isn’t the fight for social justice and greater economic equality a necessary part of environmental activism? Populist movements are reflecting valid grievances, and unless those grievances, particularly around economic inequality, are addressed, it will be much harder to obtain consensus for urgent action against climate change and environmental pollution.Isn’t the fight for social justice and greater economic equality a necessary part of environmental activism? Populist movements are reflecting valid grievances, and unless those grievances, particularly around economic inequality, are addressed, it will be much harder to obtain consensus for urgent action against climate change and environmental pollution.
Isn't the fight for social justice and greater economic equality a necessary part of environmental activism?Isn't the fight for social justice and greater economic equality a necessary part of environmental activism?
It is. Not least because, as Prof Kevin Mackay contends, oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Oligarchic control thwarts rational decision-making, as the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society.It is. Not least because, as Prof Kevin Mackay contends, oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Oligarchic control thwarts rational decision-making, as the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society.
At present, oligarchic control is strongly reasserting itself, to a large extent through the purchase of politics by exceedingly rich people and corporations (think of ExxonMobil, BP, the Koch brothers, the media barons). Their interests are radically different to the broader public interest. We cannot prevent climate and ecological breakdown until we put them back in their boxes and ensure that democracy triumphs over plutocracy.At present, oligarchic control is strongly reasserting itself, to a large extent through the purchase of politics by exceedingly rich people and corporations (think of ExxonMobil, BP, the Koch brothers, the media barons). Their interests are radically different to the broader public interest. We cannot prevent climate and ecological breakdown until we put them back in their boxes and ensure that democracy triumphs over plutocracy.
Jenny, 57, from Devon, asks:Jenny, 57, from Devon, asks:
I’m so proud of young strikers and am with them all the way. I try to live a low impact life and I write to my MP, but I want to do more. What do you think people of my generation can do to help you?I’m so proud of young strikers and am with them all the way. I try to live a low impact life and I write to my MP, but I want to do more. What do you think people of my generation can do to help you?
Hi Jenny, Jake here from UKSCN. Thank you for your kind words, and great to hear you try and live as low impact as possible. It’s really important for the older generations to support young people by amplifying their voices, giving them platforms to speak, and helping to make sure their voice is heard.Hi Jenny, Jake here from UKSCN. Thank you for your kind words, and great to hear you try and live as low impact as possible. It’s really important for the older generations to support young people by amplifying their voices, giving them platforms to speak, and helping to make sure their voice is heard.
As well as taking part in the comments George and our young activists have been sent some questions in advance from readers of a callout launched earlier in the week.As well as taking part in the comments George and our young activists have been sent some questions in advance from readers of a callout launched earlier in the week.
Here’s the first of those from Franklin, in Aberdeen:Here’s the first of those from Franklin, in Aberdeen:
Hi George. I’ve been hearing for a while about the Friday strikes – and Greta Thunberg, from Sweden – but wondered when was the first time you heard of the school strikes, and what you thought of them when you did? Thank you!Hi George. I’ve been hearing for a while about the Friday strikes – and Greta Thunberg, from Sweden – but wondered when was the first time you heard of the school strikes, and what you thought of them when you did? Thank you!
The moment I heard about Greta’s strike, I felt inspired. But I had no idea it would snowball as it did. I spoke at the youth strike in my home city a month ago at their request, and stayed for the other talks and to watch the march. I don’t remember ever being so moved by a public event.The moment I heard about Greta’s strike, I felt inspired. But I had no idea it would snowball as it did. I spoke at the youth strike in my home city a month ago at their request, and stayed for the other talks and to watch the march. I don’t remember ever being so moved by a public event.
The young people were amazing: articulate, clear-headed, passionate, determined. They came out in huge numbers, with beautifully-made banners and posters. Their testimony shook me profoundly. For 30 years I’ve been talking and writing about how my generation and those preceding it have been compromising the life chances of those yet to come. And here they were, the people I was thinking about before they were born, explaining just what they face as a result of our failures. I have to admit I cried. And so did most of the adults who witnessed it.The young people were amazing: articulate, clear-headed, passionate, determined. They came out in huge numbers, with beautifully-made banners and posters. Their testimony shook me profoundly. For 30 years I’ve been talking and writing about how my generation and those preceding it have been compromising the life chances of those yet to come. And here they were, the people I was thinking about before they were born, explaining just what they face as a result of our failures. I have to admit I cried. And so did most of the adults who witnessed it.
George Monbiot is in the building and ready to answer your questions, along with Jake and colleagues from the UK Student Climate Network – keep them coming in the comments below!George Monbiot is in the building and ready to answer your questions, along with Jake and colleagues from the UK Student Climate Network – keep them coming in the comments below!
As part of our coverage of the global youth strikes around the world we are inviting readers to submit questions about the movement, and climate change issues more generally, for a live discussion taking place here on Friday.As part of our coverage of the global youth strikes around the world we are inviting readers to submit questions about the movement, and climate change issues more generally, for a live discussion taking place here on Friday.
Young climate activists around the world: why I’m striking today | Brianna Fruean and othersYoung climate activists around the world: why I’m striking today | Brianna Fruean and others
Young campaigners as well as Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner George Monbiot will be online from around 10.30am (GMT). The young activists will be posting their answers using their Student Climate Network account.Young campaigners as well as Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner George Monbiot will be online from around 10.30am (GMT). The young activists will be posting their answers using their Student Climate Network account.
George has written about how the campaign requires the support of all generations to succeed, but how does that work in practice? What does success mean and how can it be achieved? How can older generations best support younger members of society in their action? What moved people to take action, and what exactly does that look like?George has written about how the campaign requires the support of all generations to succeed, but how does that work in practice? What does success mean and how can it be achieved? How can older generations best support younger members of society in their action? What moved people to take action, and what exactly does that look like?
If you have questions for the campaigners or for George Monbiot about this growing movement or about how to become involved more generally in climate activism share them in the comments below – we’ll feature some of the best, along with the answers, above the line here.If you have questions for the campaigners or for George Monbiot about this growing movement or about how to become involved more generally in climate activism share them in the comments below – we’ll feature some of the best, along with the answers, above the line here.