We, the undersigned academics, stand in solidarity with the children going on school climate strike on 15 February, and with all those taking a stand for the future of the planet.
Nelson Mandela once said: “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” Human planetary abuse *is*, in a very real sense, child neglect.
As many of us and other fellow academics have indicated previously in this newspaper (Letters, 27 October 2018), the scientific evidence of climate change is clear. For example, the summer of 2018 has been confirmed by the Meteorological Office as the hottest on record for England. The heatwave adversely affected crops across Europe, with wheat and potato harvests reduced by one quarter, which in turn impacted upon food prices. Australia is similarly experiencing “hottest on record” weather events. As citizens across the globe will know and testify, many comparably disturbing examples could be given. We cannot nurture our children without Nature.
We are rapidly losing sea ice in the Arctic. The warming of the ocean, the melting of land ice and the ensuing rising sea levels will threaten coasts. In 2018, the European Drought Observatory noted a high deficit in soil moisture across Scotland, Ireland and much of northern Europe. This increases the risk of wildfires, such as those we saw across England in 2018. As well as posing a direct threat to life, fires produce toxic smoke, which is a significant health risk to young and old alike. Sir David Attenborough has warned: “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” Many other organisations, like Extinction Rebellion, are now working to bring the truth about the ecological crisis to the public’s attention.
It is with these tragic and desperate events in mind that we offer our full support to the students – some of whom may well aspire to be the academics of the future – who bravely plan to strike on 15 February to demand that the UK government takes climate action. They have every right to be angry about the future that we shall bequeath to them, if proportionate and urgent action is not taken. We are inspired that our children, spurred on by the noble actions of Greta Thunberg and many other striking students all around the world, are making their voices heard.
full list of signatories at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/13/school-climate-strike-childrens-brave-stand-has-our-support?fbclid=IwAR3L39RM_FSClvqkMvcuUeMJfWvtdCpWgxYdsUUQNCV_nhFHHAs-LexKy5I