Battle to save the planet is one for young and old
Despite her young age, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thurnberg has taken the world by storm after she ignited a global movement against climate change last year.
The teenager has become the voice for her generation in demanding world leaders emergency action to address dangerous global warming – but her message chimes with older people too.
The Star has a special focus on climate change, running all this week, and as part of that we spoke to the older and younger generation to find out how their views differ and are also very much alike.
Roy Ashton, aged 96, of Waterthorpe, said he wished the world would go back to the days where there were fewer vehicles on the road and people did not spend on things they didn’t need.
“Everything seems to be going the wrong way now because the people say they haven’t got enough money but wherever you go, you go down people’s drives and they have got two to three cars, which is bad.
“And the fumes for the car are bad for the environment. In our days, there weren’t many cars on the road and there used to be grass growing in the gutters and yet, everybody managed,” he said.
The great-grandfather of nine, who fought in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War, said plastic use had also spiralled.
“Back in those days, there was no plastic waste because there was no plastic. I still remember when I was a little boy, I used to play marbles in the gutters because there were no cars, and nobody got injured or run over,” he said.
Roy said lives were much simpler then. He only earned about £12 a week but still could manage a family and put a roof over their heads.
“It’s just that people are avaricious these days, and that’s the problem. The more they get, the more they want,” he said.
Meanwhile, 92-year-old Jean Longden, of Hillsborough, said she was doing her best to protect the environment by producing less waste.
Daughter Jill Demetrious, 63, said her mum was one of the few people she knew who still had milk delivered to her from the milkman.
“She’s very good, so she doesn’t have the extra plastic to get rid of. She has milk delivered for I’d say 84 years to the same house. She moved into the house when she was eight, so she has lived in the same house for 84 years,” she said.
Mrs Demetrious said the world should go back to when people produced less waste.
“In the 50s and the 60s, we used to have fresh ground coffee in paper bags, biscuits in the big tins and we put them in the paper bags.
“There are now a lot of zero-waste shops in Sheffield where you can take your own containers and pick your own bits and pieces. Now, I live in Cyprus and a lot of the food in the supermarket is grown locally,” she said.
Masters graduate Tom Williams, 24, of Bradway, said: “I believe that many of my generation think they are doing enough but really they aren’t. However, we cannot fully do enough to reduce waste without the packaging of products being changed by businesses.
“People want cheap products and reduced waste items are expensive so deter many younger people or people with less disposable income. Preventing climate change shouldn’t be a fad, it needs to be enforced.”
He said although people are aware of the effects of climate change, it needs to be further pushed by the government and businesses.
“Freecycle centres and more recycling bins on streets will deter more landfill waste.
“Reliability of public transport needs to improve to further help young people moving towards lower emissions.
“Many jobs younger people go for require a driving licence and that isn’t thinking about the planet. We as young people are aware of the struggle but need help in order to help fix it.”
Seventeen-year-old Karina Iqbal, of Woodhouse, said she strongly believes in keeping informed about climate change as it is her generation that will be most impacted by the troubles it will bring.
“We are already seeing rising sea levels, raging wildfires, and increasingly long summers, and there is more to come. I myself, have attended a few climate protests at Sheffield's City Hall and I urge others to as well,” she said.
Karina said she is also doing her part through little actions such as reducing plastic waste, using public transport and cutting down on meat consumption.
“Though there are days where I may let my laziness win, I always strive to do my best to be eco-friendly. Remember, a little goes a long way!” she said.
She also said that more people her age should have a more urgent response.
She said: “It is our generation – and our children’s – that will face the harshest ramifications of this phenomenon – should we choose to ignore it.
“Social media amongst my peers and I has made it easier for general awareness to be raised, but I still believe we have a long way to go in terms of direct action.”