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Young people and climate change

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:

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.

50 comments on “Young people and climate change”

  1. Muttonbird 1

    Judith Collins. Typically dismissive, typically Cruella Deville.

    Totally out of touch with the upcoming generation which is why she’ll never make government again.

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    I wonder if rural school children will join the action?
    Are the children of farmers likely to take part in protests around climate change?

  3. Robert Guyton 3

    What’s the expected turnout in Taranaki, I wonder?

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    Greymouth?
    Some turn-out figures post-protest would be interesting.

  5. Well, to be fair, James Shaw of the Greens was the first to speak up formally in support of the strike, and other Labour MPs were a mixed bag, and I don’t expect anything better of National than to attack anything Labour supports, especially re: the environment:

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/minister-supports-student-strike-against-climate-change-inaction-during-school-time

    Given what Ardern said, I’ve been waiting for her to actively support her Climate Minister (who is taking stick for his position) and the students and our nuclear-free moment – but nothing yet I think? Waiting…

    • Robert Guyton 5.1

      It’s unreasonable to expect the PM to advocate wagging, imo.

      • Incognito 5.1.1

        Snap!

      • Jess NZ 5.1.2

        Such an unreasonable attitude to call it or even think of it privately as wagging! It’s an international day of climate action.

        And I hear that she has now made a very weak comment:
        PM Jacinda Ardern told One News that she’d “like to think is that in New Zealand there’s less cause for protest, we’re certainly trying to do our bit.” A bit less fiery than “Our nuclear free moment’, eh?

        https://thespinoff.co.nz/the-bulletin/06-03-2019/the-bulletin-mps-take-sides-on-student-climate-strikes/

        Well, she’s only Labour, not a Green MP after all, and she already won her position. I can’t expect better. 🙁

        • patricia bremner 5.1.2.1

          Yes Jess sadly she is PM for the farmers who pollute as much as my PM.

          She is right in that NZ looks capable of meeting the Paris accord. Some will say “So what” Thing is, each country has to do their bit.

          The last Government was going to be “A slow follower” so at least we are now making strides.

          The children are looking at the bleak science, and want the adults in the room to be aware and active in this field.

          If you are 77 like me You might not be here for “The Tipping Point. If you are 16 you know this could be your dreadful future.

          We have lost an estimated 65% of insect species. If we lose 65% of food production wide spread hunger is likely.

          These children look at a cloudless blue sky and the lack of rain with foreboding, not as a gorgeous day to play.

          They see terrible danger everywhere. They are not being Chicken Little because they could live in the end days.

          Made old before their time, to take a day to admonish the movers and shakers of the world is right and sensible. Next year they will again gather and count successes and failures.

          Let us hope they help increase the momentum towards correcting the ills, at the very least they will develop in their ability to sell an important idea.

  6. I reckon this strike has terrific educational value. It’s a lesson in civics, social studies, science and public speaking all at once. It might be the most instructive day these kids have this year.

    • Incognito 6.1

      Agreed and very well put, thank you.

    • bwaghorn 6.3

      Yip good on them .
      And teachers can hardly come down on them as they a striking for something as petty as money.

      • In Vino 6.3.1

        Looking for nibbles? They are also striking for am education system that might actually work, you ignorant nob.
        As a teacher, I would fully support those students who can articulate their concerns. I think they are quite right.

        • bwaghorn 6.3.1.1

          Caught me . But funnily enough one of the kids said much the same as me in an article I read after posting that comment.

          • greywarshark 6.3.1.1.1

            Truth out of the mouths of babes eh. But the people who are lefties writing here know more about things than babes and very possibly write with integrity not just facility. So it’s a good thing to take notice of what is said here especially if present day teachers are saying it as they are at the coalface, getting their hands dirty.

            • bwaghorn 6.3.1.1.1.1

              I have know problem with teachers striking. But they better not come down on the climate kids it would be hypocritical would it not?

  7. Incognito 7

    He does clarify that if kids make this choice, they will miss out on their other education.

    I guess as Education Minister he cannot condone ‘wagging’ but his comment does make you wonder what kind of outdated views he has on what constitutes education. If put into a learning context this can have as much educational value as a field trip, for example. Not everyone ceases the opportunity to learn and enrich themselves on these occasions but it doesn’t follow that nobody can or should participate, does it?

  8. Sanctuary 8

    My partner observed last night that National seem determined to hit every jarring wrong note at the moment, especially Judith Collins who has gone in just the last few weeks into bat for slumlords and sneered at idealistic school children.

    I would have thought the best response for an opposition MP would be to simply laud the school kids for their idealism, then perhaps suggest that they don’t do it on a school day and they live the ideal and remember to start walking or biking to school to save on their carbon footprint.

    • AB 8.1

      “then perhaps suggest that they don’t do it on a school day and they live the ideal and remember to start walking or biking to school to save on their carbon footprint.”

      Don’t giver her ideas. She’ll be using that to accuse them of climate hypocrisy next.

      Actually trumped-up charges of climate hypocrisy are big from the right at the moment – AOC being accused of going in a minivan, etc.
      It is a very morally and intellectually shabby thing these accusations – throw back onto individuals the responsibility of dealing with a problem so massive that it can be solved only by widespread collective action. And doing so precisely because you don’t want that collective action to occur. It takes a particularly poisoned mind to play that game.

      • greywarshark 8.1.1

        Thanks AB you trace that circular reasoning well. It is sometimes hard to describe what smells about some of these statements. Another one is that green thinking speakers travel by air to present, when they could do so by using communications tech. However we still are humans and like to see people face to face, shake their hands, assess their character up close, have meetings and questions that arise from other questions in a real way.

  9. Ieuan 9

    Wow, such a garbled timeline, ‘God save the Queen’ by the Sex Pistols was released in 1977, the Doomsday clock was moved back in 1988 when the USA and Soviet Union signed a treaty on intermediate range missiles.

    The Sex Pistols as a band didn’t get past 1978 and Vicious was dead in 1979.

    Most of the protest songs of the 1980’s were about the Irish Troubles or Nelson Mandela.

    • left_forward 9.1

      If you say so – but it doesn’t change the point does it?

    • mickysavage 9.2

      Que?

      The arms race had reached the insane stage before 1977.

      In 1974 the doomsday clock was moved to 9 minutes to midnight. It went as low as 3 minutes in 1984 but then started to move out.

      The song is offered as an example of the cultural response at the time. There are plenty of others.

      The doomsday clock is now at 2 minutes to midnight.

      Click to access 2018%20Doomsday%20Clock%20Statement.pdf

      • Ieuan Attewell 9.2.1

        ‘The song is offered as an example of the cultural response at the time. There are plenty of others.’

        I think a bit of Billy Bragg would have been a much better example, a bit more cerebral and less like being bashed over the head with a baseball bat (which is what the Sex Pistols were like).

        Also Bragg was at his peak in the mid-1980’s and had close ties to the CND.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 9.3

      This is a beaut 1980s ‘protest song’ (ex Spitting Image) – more difficult to get away with anything similar these days?

      I’ve travelled this old world of ours from Barnsley to Peru,
      I’ve had sunshine in the arctic and a swim in Tinbuktu,
      I’ve seen unicorns in Burma and a Yetti in Nepal,
      And I’ve danced with ten foot pygmies in a Montezuma hall,
      I’ve met the King of China and a working Yorkshire miner –
      But I’ve never met a nice South African!

      No he’s never met a nice South African,
      And that’s not bloody surprising man!
      ‘Cause we’re a bunch of arrogant b***tards,
      Who hate black people!

      I once got served in Woolies aften less than four week’s wait,
      I had lunch with Rowan Atkinson when he paid and wasn’t late,
      I know a public swimming bath where they don’t piss in the pool,
      I know a guy who got a job straight after leaving school,
      I’ve met a normal merman, and a fairly modest German –
      But I’ve never met a nice South African!

      No he’s never met a nice South African,
      And that’s not bloody surprising man!
      ‘Cause we’re a bunch of talentless murderers,
      Who smell like baboons.

      I’ve had a close encounter of the twenty-second kind,
      That’s when an alien spaceship disappears up your behind,
      I got directory enquiries after less than forty rings,
      I’ve even heard a decent song by Paul McCartney’s Wings,
      I’ve seen a flying pig, in a quite convincing wig,
      But I’ve never met a nice South African!

      No he’s never met a nice South African,
      And that’s not bloody surprising man!
      ‘Cause we’re a bunch of ignorant loudmouths,
      With no sense of humour.

      I’ve met the Loch Ness monster and he looks like Fred Astaire,
      At the BBC in London he’s the chief commissionaire,
      I know a place in Glasgow which is rife with daffodillies,
      I met a man in Katmandu who claimed to have two willies,
      I’ve had a nice pot noodle, but I’ve never had a poodle –
      And I’ve never met a nice South African.

      No he’s never met a nice South African,
      And that’s not bloody surprising man,
      Because we’ve never met one either!
      Except for Breyten Breytenbach, and he’s emigrated to Paris. (farts)

      Yes he’s quite a nice South African,
      And he’s hardly ever killed anyone,
      And he’s not smelly at all.
      That’s why we put him prison!

    • SHG 9.4

      John Lydon describes the environment that spawned the Sex Pistols:

      “Early Seventies Britain was a very depressing place. It was completely run-down, there was trash on the streets, total unemployment—just about everybody was on strike.

      Robb, John, Punk Rock, p. 97.

  10. greywarshark 10

    Should they be asking for a stop to 5g because of EFMs and cell towers and jump points all over the place?

    A tornado strikes houses go down and so does the cell tower blocking the road in Alabama.
    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/384064/alabama-tornadoes-seven-family-members-among-23-killed

    • Drowsy M. Kram 10.1

      Good observation – should these towers be (re)constructed to a ‘higher’ standard? Or maybe the 5G towers can be shorter, because there will be more of them?

      I personally have no use for 5G developments, but no doubt they are important for economic growth, efficiency, convenience, etc.

      Could be a useful initiative for progressive governments to insist that all proposed infrastructure development projects be accurately and transparently assessed for their carbon footprint, including any downstream growth. Or would that be drawing too much attention to the ‘problem’?

    • One Two 10.2

      The, known issues caused by RF manipulation, such as damage to human, animal and plant are substantial…although largely ignored and sidelined…

      Rf manipulation and the damage caused, is enabled by the infrastructure and platforms of hardware/software which facilitate Rf manipulation…

      Infrastructure and hardware fabricted from earth minerals, for which a fantasized state of ‘smart cities’ will be built upon…

      ‘Smart cities’ which…it has been ‘promised’ by industry…will lead towards ‘saving planet earth’…

      However… as a pre-requisite…’we’ must first…destroy planet earth…

      Technology as been sold as a ‘get out of jail free card’… an attempt by every individual and company that has played a role in plundering planet earth…to absolve themselves of their actions…

      While continuing to plunder the planet…

  11. One Two 11

    It’s going to take much more than children and young people dropping school to express what they hardly understand…

    What are the parents/adults doing in support of their children and other young people…

    Is the strategy…blah blah blah…oil…gas…carbon…ppm…

    Having a strategy implies knowledge of what we’re up against’…and my interpretation is the vast majority who are even sneaking a peak…have NFI what is going on…and therefore what is actually required…

    Space programms continue, satellite launches in the thousands of ‘wireless internet’ are approved, and vanity projects such as spaceX are embraced by ‘adults’ who comment at this blog…which signals extreme cognitive dissonance when it comes to environmental and atmospheric damage caused by ‘rocket launches’…

    ‘Nuclear Moment’ …hollow words…a catch cry perhaps hoping the heavy lifting will be on the backs of other people…because the politicians won’t be doing the heavy lifting…or any lifting at all that matters…

    Signing TPPA…et al… buiness as usual…

    Space programme’s…business as usual…

    Technology deployments…business as usual…

    Lies, spin and more lies…business as usual…

    TRUTH…is the root cause of all problems being faced…without truth…the problems can only worsen…

    • greywarshark 11.1

      When youngsters decide that they will stand up to the oppression and violence of other parts of society, and keep coming as they did in Birmingham for Wyatt Walker, organiser and Dr King’s call to make a stand, the police and the powerful have difficulties.

      But the white police and leaders had taken lessons in how to manage the situation. Act nicey nice – while the tv cameras were on hand. It took the youngsters persistence, wave on wave of them carrying banners would leave a church and take a short walk to the wagons to take them to prison. But the plan had been to have so many that the prisons would be full. What would the police do then? Parents were worried about white violence and harassment of the young black teenagers.

      The black community were apathetic, what could they achieve. But the young ones stuck to the task. Finally there was a telling photo of an Alsatian attacking a black teenage boy. It was a searing image, but actually the dog was being restrained not encouraged and it wasn’t as fearsome as it seemed. As the camera often does, it distorted the image in favour of black sentiment. But it stood in for all the other dog attacks and showed the sort of thing that could happen, did happen to African-Americans.

      The black organisers had to stage manage and organise to break the police chief Connor’s politeness training. The police turned on the fire hoses at full blast, the teenagers fell over, looked bad, cameras misled again. It was very hot, they were happy to run into the hoses and get swept away and return.

      The planning was necessary, blacks were up against cunning white people who could turn nasty when they could get away with it. It took ages to bring to justice the nasty white adults who burned blacks in their church. So devious planning is required to stand against self-centred, self-appointed enemies of the vulnerable.

      Here is an excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath – Underdogs Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.
      https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/06/18/us/19blackchurch.html

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/26/lynchings-sadism-white-men-why-america-must-atone

      • greywarshark 11.1.1

        The 22 year old man Roof who attended a prayer meeting then deliberately shot dead nine people was sentenced to death. But the USA from being too quick to kill off people now can’t decide to deal with obvious cases of deliberate and dreadful determined killing like this.

        If Charleston church killer Dylann Roof is sentenced to death by the federal jury hearing his case, appeals will delay his execution for years.
        “Generally speaking, you are looking at a decade or more,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Resource Center, a non-profit that tracks death penalty data.

        According to a study published last month by Dunham’s group, a record low number of death penalty sentences were handed out last year – 30 across the nation. That continues a sharply downward trend from 1996, when 315 death penalty sentences were meted out.

        Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article124200884.html#storylink=cpy

  12. Biblical Weather Prophecy – YouTube

  13. Michelle 13

    one two to say they hardly understand is a bit condescending isn’t it, this type of attitude will be see the national party siting in the opposition benches for a very long time hooray !

    • patricia bremner 13.1

      1000% Michelle.

    • One Two 13.2

      Hardly understand will be entitely accurate for most all the youngsters and most all of their parents…and adults in general…

      If you’d read, and understood the comment, in full the way I had indented it to be read…the way I had written it…well…I’ll leave it there…

      Want to take on the big machine…you need to understand the big machines language…

      Are the youngsters likely to understand big machine language…do you understand it, michelle?

      Your throw away political comment says to me, you hardly understand…

      • Michelle 13.2.1

        one two many adults don’t even understand or don’t want to understand climate change. The argument about missing one day of school is rather weak given many NZers take holidays and pull their kids out of school. To ignore this group and claim they know nothing about this issue is also wrong they probably know more than we do.

  14. Pat 14

    Definition of insanity

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/05/the-last-great-tree-a-majestic-relic-of-canadas-vanishing-boreal-forest

    A thousand years…50 generations…and we, in the space of a couple have destroyed it all (almost)

  15. Jenny - How to get there? 15

    Youth climate strikers: ‘We are going to change the fate of humanity’
    Damian Carrington – March 2, 2019

    https://grist.org/article/youth-climate-strikers-we-are-going-to-change-the-fate-of-humanity/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=daily

    “For people under 18 in most countries, the only democratic right we have is to demonstrate. We don’t have representation,” said Jonas Kampus, a 17-year-old student activist, from near Zurich, Switzerland.

  16. Jenny - How to get there? 16

    Young, and old are both telling the establishment politicians. “We’ll be less activist, if you will be less shit”.

    from Stuff.co.nz

    A very polite rebellion

    Meet the climate activists ready to go to jail to save the planet.

    The planet’s last stand: Why these climate change activists are ready to break the law
    Andrea Vance – March 7, 2019

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/111018713/the-planets-last-stand-why-these-climate-change-activists-are-ready-to-break-the-law

    ….from his neat town house in central Christchurch, the 74-year-old is plotting how to get arrested.

    “For years and years now, we’ve been playing nice. And I think one of the things that has been recognised in the last year or so is that it’s not working….

  17. Jenny - How to get there? 17

    Talking about being, “less shit”

    Todd Muller speaks, (through James Shaw).

    …..with electricity production already at 85 per cent renewable. We can continue to increase this, but as we approach 100 per cent renewable electricity, the last few per cent become very expensive and don’t deliver significant emissions reductions.
    Todd Muller – February 4, 2019

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12200162

    The government may be willing to shift ground on its 2035 renewable electricity target if the Interim Climate Change Committee feels there are better targets to pursue.
    James Shaw – March 6, 2019

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/@environment/2019/03/06/475094/govt-open-to-advice-on-100-renewable-target-shaw

    Get Ready, Get Set, and, Fast Follow

    In not rejecting Todd Muller’s demand that New Zealand not be 100% renewable in electricity generation by 2035,. James Shaw is bowing to another National Party bottom line political demand, one first made by John Key and reiterated and amplified several times recently by Todd Muller,

    “New Zealand must not be a leader on climate change.”

    For New Zealand to achieve fossil free electricity generation by 2035 is the sort of global setting lead that National and the polluters cannot allow.

    This “shit” is why both young and old, have had enough

  18. Robert Guyton 18

    Education Minister Chris Hipkins said it was up to schools to decide how to handle the strike.

    “I want kids to be learning. If taking part in this action is part of the learning process, then there may be some merit in it.”

  19. Cinny 19

    If Miss 14 wants to be involved, then that’s fine with me, happy to write a note to her teacher. I would love for Miss 11 to be able to do the same, but I’m working 🙁

    Kids should have a say about it, after all they will be living in the wake of our decisions.

  20. Incognito 20

    Graeme Edgeler has drafted a Bill and offers legal advice: https://publicaddress.net/legalbeagle/the-climate-strike-and-the-voting-age/

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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