Written By: - Date published: 7:56 am, March 6th, 2019 - 50 comments
Categories: child welfare, climate change, disaster, Environment, ETS, global warming, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, labour, national, Nikki Kaye, Politics, Simon Bridges, sustainability - Tags: chris hipkins
I was a university student back in the 1980s.
Back then it was a dark time, the United States and the Soviets were ignoring the plight of the rest of the world and pouring massive resources into Nuclear Arsenals.
Clearly each side thought that with the timely use of nuclear weapons they could win the war, whatever that involved.
At some stage someone realised that we did not need to keep accumulating more than 25,000 nuclear warheads each to win the next world war, detonating about 500 would do the job.
Their explosion would create a nuclear winter and we would all be stuffed. If the blast did not get us then the inevitable long winter and the failure of the world’s food crops would.
Some wealthy people started to build bomb shelters and store away supplies. They seemed to think that it would be better to hide and emerge 6 months later to a destroyed world than try and preserve what we all had.
This is how young people’s culture responded.
Yep. The first part of the song was satirical, God save the Queen.
The second part was a realistic analysis. No future.
We managed to get through this part of human history somehow. Mainly because the Russian leader Mikhael Gorbachev was intelligent and realised what the arms race was doing to Russia. He decided to back off.
The doomsday clock was set back a few reassuring minutes.
But now we are at a similar stage. But there is a difference this time. The equivalent threat will inevitably occur if more slowly unless we change things dramatically.
No wonder young people are getting so upset and so passionate. They have so much to lose. Like their future.
As extraordinary young person Greta Thunberg has said we are stealing their future.
Young people throughout the world are getting active and noisy and are demanding real leadership on this most important of issues.
And Jacinda Ardern realises that this is our new nuclear free moment.
Her ministers need to catch up with the play.
Chris Hipkins’ response to news of students planning to skip school to engage in protests against climate change is rather underwhelming. From Newstalk:
Chris Hipkins told Larry Williams he’s not encouraging, or discouraging pupils from taking part.
“I’m certainly not going to tell them not to do it, but if they are going to do it, they should take part in it. It’s not an excuse to wag school.”
He says if kids make a choice to participate in a civic action, that’s for the school to manage, as they do on a daily basis. He adds that the Government will not be telling them what to do.
Hipkins says we should pay attention to what children think about climate change.
“I think it’s great that they want to have their voice heard.”
He does clarify that if kids make this choice, they will miss out on their education.
National’s response was predictably turgid. Radio New Zealand has reported Simon Bridges as saying this:
National Party leader Simon Bridges said climate change was an important issue, but the strike should not have been held on a school day.
He said the protest could have been timed to coincide with the upcoming strike by secondary school teachers on 3 April.
“We know that there’s a number of strike days coming up, maybe they should protest on one of those days,” he said.
Mr Bridges said a small proportion of school children closely followed climate change and he doubted anyone would contest their participation in the strike.
“What we wouldn’t want to encourage is a situation where a whole lot of people who are fair-weather friends on this issue say ‘you know what, sweet, this is a day off school, I’m going to join the protest’,” he said.
Nikki Kaye was not much better:
National Party education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said government ministers should not be encouraging students to participate.
“I’m a bit concerned that we have got the Minister for Climate Change out there encouraging people to not be at school and that does put parents and principals in a pretty difficult situation,” she said.
“The main thing is that parents have given permission, otherwise we may have unsupervised kids, 12 or 13 years old, in the streets.”
Ms Kaye said ideally the strike would have been held outside of school hours.
And Judith Collins’ take was extraordinary:
National Party MP Judith Collins was dismissive of the protest action.
“Their little protest is not going to help the world one bit,” she said.
Strike organiser Sophie Hanford had the best response:
We’re sick and tired of not being listened to and it’s come to the point where we actually almost have to disrupt some of the norms to actually have our voices heard. It shouldn’t come to this, but we’re ready to stand up and fight for that” …
It might be one truancy for kids but kids take time off school often, when they’re sick, when they’re attending other events like sports days.
It’s one day and it could make a world of change for the future generations and for us.”
If it was up to me I would beg young people to take part. I would say that there is no more important issue that we need to address. And I would have every MP and Cabinet Minister present at the protests.
This really is our Nuclear issue. And if we fail our planet’s future is stuffed.
Details of the strike are here. The national day of action is March 15, 2019.