Young people must fight for the planet

Barbara Masters

Monday, 25th February 2019, 06:03 am
Updated Monday, 25th February 2019, 06:12 am
Sheffield should go Carbon Neutral by 2030

Sheffield, S10

It is heartening to see that so many of our young people care for the future of our planet and demand to be heard.

Less so to hear those who just blame the older generation for the state that we are in now. Those who belong to that generation are the ones who realised the problem decades ago and have been working hard to make the rest of us and politicians take notice. They are the ones researching ways to nullify the effects of increased CO2 levels, who have to spend inordinate amounts of valuable research time convincing bodies to fund their research and who are prompting the younger generations to take up the baton on our planet’s behalf. What frightens me is the significant number of people who do not believe that humans are causing the climate to change significantly and so are not prepared to support any measures that impact on their lifestyle. When these people are in in positions of power the consequences are potentially dire.

In many ways it will be harder for younger generations to adapt to the changes that will be required. In Britain they have grown up in a culture where material goods that make our lives comfortable are taken for granted, where food is readily available all year round and where they can often travel at times and to places at their convenience. Just think of the amount of electricity that needs to be generated hourly just to charge up smart phones and other hi-tech accessories, and the problems adults encounter trying to restrict such usage including their own!

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The explosion of concern over our use of plastics is largely in response to the shocking images portrayed in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2. But we can’t see the CO2 in our atmosphere so it is hard to jolt people into demanding action on this in a similar way. Air quality monitors that can show people how their actions are contributing to the problem and which could encourage them to modify their practices are readily available but not widely used.

Young people are right to demand better from the political leaders, but they should also get involved in the science too, to distinguish between objective research and pseudo-science promising a quick fix or denying there is a problem at all. There is a cost to all this. It mustn’t be their future.