Climate Strikes: It’s Hard Not to Smile

It is difficult to avoid a smile when hope emerges.

Yesterday, I was honoured to find myself secreted amidst a crowd of protestors amassed at Newcastle’s Civic Centre. This youth-led demonstration, taking place in the wake of Greta Thunberg’s courageous School Strike for Climate, marking by far the most uplifting and inspirational gathering I have ever had the privilege to attend.

Part of a far-reaching global effort to draw attention to the ongoing climate and ecological catastrophe befalling our planet, yesterdays protest radiated positivity and provided a welcome break from the overriding sense of hopelessness that usually abounds when discussing climate change. No, this time things were different and listening to the impassioned chants of local people, young and old, it was possible to smile, despite the seriousness of the issue. To smile and for once, allow optimism to take hold. Optimism not for the sudden emergence of common sense among our leaders – doubtless, there is still some way to go in this regard – but centred on the fact that climate change, and the threat it poses, is now top of the agenda. Newcastle, Britain and the wider world have woken up.

The world is changing. No longer is climate change a fringe concern, downplayed and spoken about in hushed tones. Now, the fate of our planet (and by default, ourselves) is top of the agenda, thanks in the most part to the dedication, bravery and unbridled passion of today’s youth. A movement which now, surely, cannot be ignored and one which will continue to swell until those in power – those boasting the final say over all our futures – stop, listen and take heed.

As a formerly ‘young’ environmentalist, I cannot put into words the feeling of joy that coincides with the sight of school children, students and young adults clamouring for meaningful change. Together and unified. Surely such protests place the final nail in the coffin of the argument that today’s youth are somehow detached from the natural world. Young people are listening, learning and standing up for what they believe in and, quite frankly, I do not believe there is a force out there that can stop them.

We will see how the global movement against climate change progresses but for now, I will leave you with the sight and sound of the young people demanding change in one small corner of Britain. It’s a beautiful sight.

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