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I'm embarrassed that our children had to tackle climate change on our behalf

PUBLISHED: 08:30 25 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:25 25 February 2019

Young protesters hold up signs during the Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside The Forum in Norwich

Young protesters hold up signs during the Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside The Forum in Norwich

Archant

There is no Plan(et) B: so it's a good job that we've got our children to clear up the mess that the adults have made and left for them to inherit. Why the kids are all right when it comes to climate change.

In Westminster, the adults are throwing their toys out of the pram, storming out and slamming the door, stamping their feet about why they should have what no one wants to give them and generally behaving like some kind of hideous pastiche of every teenage cliché you can think of.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve described parliamentary hoo-hah over Brexit as being like “…the behaviour of a three-year-old who says they will hold their breath if they don’t get the toy that they want.”

Meanwhile, across the pond in the White House, Donald Trump wants to spend billions of dollars to build hundreds of miles of additional walling on the US-Mexico border, a pet project he says is needed to check illegal immigration and drug trafficking but which met with such opposition that it led to the longest American government shutdown in history.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summed up the situation thus: “It’s a temper tantrum by the President.”

Meanwhile, it’s the teenagers and the children whose names are being taken in vain who are the ones that are talking sense. On the last day of half term, hundreds of Norwich pupils made their way to the city’s Forum to chant, cheer and challenge the government about its reaction to climate change and the impact that global warming will have on future generations.

While pro-fossil fuels halfwit Donald Trump treats the fact that it’s sometimes cold outside as evidence that the idea the planet is getting warmer isn’t the result of decades of hard work by hundreds of clever scientists but in fact a ridiculous hoax dreamt up “…by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”, kids across the country are actually getting off their backsides and trying to make the world somewhere a better place for their children’s children.

And while our Government chase their own tail over Brexit as we career towards the unknown unprepared, our kids are shouting as loud as they can about how we have 12 years – 12 YEARS! – to limit the climate change catastrophe.

Without that change, the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty hitting hundreds of millions of people with even greater intensity will increase exponentially: Theresa May responded with this: “…it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teacher’s workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.” Sigh, sigh, sigh.

Just as none of us will ever declare that we wished we’d spent more time in the office on our death beds, none of those kids who protested will look back and mourn that maths lesson they missed so that they could lend their voice to the most important issue facing the world today.

It’s a fairly sorry state of affairs when issues as gigantic as these have to be dealt with by people who can’t vote, who have limited purchase power and who can’t even decide what time they come in from a night out, if they’re allowed a night out in the first place.

But thank God for all those brave students and young people who recognise that there are times for doing what they’re told and there are times to tell everyone else what needs to be done, who realise that if we don’t take action right now, there won’t be fields of wheat to gaily gambol through in the future, indeed there might not be any people to gambol through them, either.

Inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg’s weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish parliament to raise awareness of the climate crisis, students in Europe, Australia and the United States have held strikes and it’s been humbling and inspiring to watch tomorrow’s adults doing what today’s adults should have done years ago.

The grown-ups have failed the kids, now let’s hope the kids can show the grown-ups how to change the world by reminding us about what’s really important. Meanwhile, the rest of us should feel grateful that someone is standing up for what’s right and somewhat ashamed that we’ve let it come to this.

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