The signals of impact of climate change They crowd around the world. And the young people have said enough. They belong to a generation that inherits a problem that they have not created. This Friday they will come to denounce it in more than a thousand cities on the planet (about 50 in Spain). They protest against government inaction in the face of an environmental crisis that can no longer be reversed but can be mitigated. The solution so that the warming does not have such devastating consequences is known: eliminate greenhouse gases from the economy, according to most of the scientists.
"Politicians are not doing enough," Tomás Webster Arbizu, 13, laments from Adelaide (Australia). This teenager is one of the members in his city of movement Friday for Future, which is inspired by Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish woman who in August decided to stop every Friday as a protest for her country's lack of ambition in the face of global warming.
His gesture was infecting other children throughout the planet. Australia was one of the countries in which the protest was first set. In November, a first major strike was held. 15,000 people participated in the rallies, Webster recalls by phone. Four months later, the organizers expect the attendance to be doubled. And it is no longer a movement of crappy posters and slogans painted in colors. Webster explains that they have a list of 30 specific requests for their Government. List the most important ones: "The Carmichael coal mine, which would be the largest in the southern hemisphere, must be prevented from opening, fossil fuel production must be stopped in the country, and in Australia by 2030, all energy must be renewable. "
While in many countries, such as Australia, the protests have already been massive, in Spain the few concentrations that have been held have barely gathered a few hundred students. So what, according to the November CIS – who asked several questions about climate change – it seems that there is not much doubt about the problem. Up to 83.4% of the respondents for that survey said that climate change exists and up to 93.4% of them considered that the action of man has a great or enough influence on that warming.
The test of fire for the movement will be this Friday in Spain. Some data seem to point to the awareness of young people. "In Spain, for almost a year, in the opinion studies it is seen that among the main concerns, young people include, in addition to equality, climate change," says Belén Barreiro, a sociologist and director of 40dB. And that concern decreases the greater the age of the respondent, he adds. Barreiro believes that this may be a distinctive feature of that generation and that it can be attributed to "being socialized" in a world full of information about the effects of climate change. "Every time the information is clearer about climate change," adds Barreiro.
In recent years there are countless studies and information on the signs of climate change. And it is not about notices of what may happen in the future, but what is already happening. For example, during the last decade there have been eight of the 10 warmest years on the planet since there are reliable records. These records date from the late nineteenth century, the second Industrial Revolution, when it began to distort the health of the planet. In the developed areas of the world, thanks to technological advances, the human being has reached a level of unprecedented well-being. But the growth has been based on fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – which, when burned, release the greenhouse gases they keep inside.
THE FIGURES OF GLOBAL WARMING
The massive burning of these fuels, although it started with the Industrial Revolution, did not go off until the 1950s. "The great acceleration occurs after the Second World War, when the consumption of fossil fuels, environmental damage, and the use of water explodes," explains Amaranta Herrero, professor of Environmental Sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. This teacher and researcher is one of the promoters of a letter of support for the protest this Friday that has signed about 300 people linked to the scientific world.
The alliance between science and young people is another of the differentiating features of this protest. In Germany, where there have also been large demonstrations in recent weeks, up to 12,000 scientists have signed a similar document. "There is a giant gap between the scientific consensus on climate change and the lack of action by politicians," says researcher Herrero. "From the scientific community we asked ourselves how society did not react, there is a brutal scientific consensus and we have to shout it," he adds.
Science points, for example, to a concentration in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – that has soared more than 30% since 1960. "The evidence of current climate change is unequivocal (… Since 1880, the average temperature of the world surface has increased between 0.8 and 1.2 degrees, "the United Nations Environment Program recalled this week. The UN also warned of the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events -such as floods or droughts- associated with climate change that is already occurring.
"We are worried about our future, we have found a different world from the one our mothers and grandmothers met", summarizes Gemma Barricarte, 25 years old and one of the student promoters of the protests in Barcelona.
The teacher Amaranta Herrero, speaks of the concept of "intergenerational justice" to refer to this student movement that, like climate change, is global. "They have not caused the problem and they are going to eat it with potatoes," he adds.
"Governments commit to things and then do not comply," says Gemma Barricarte about the motives of the protest. The United Nations has warned again this week that the plans for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that countries have proposed are not enough. These commitments need to be increased much more. "We're not going to stop until we get there," says this Catalan student.