- By Conor LCC on 7 days ago
The school climate strikers will hold our generation to account if we don’t take action says Ashok Sinha.
I have A blue metal water bottle with ‘Not Stupid’ printed on the side. A souvenir from a past life, the slogan occasionally elicits curious glances: exactly who or what is not stupid?
It dates from the premiere in Leicester Square of Franny Armstrong and Lizzie Gillet’s film The Age of Stupid in 2009. Intended to shake us from our collective, ‘stupid’ torpidity in the face of the existential threat of climate change, the event was livecast to 10,000 people in cinemas across the country. My job, as the then Director of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, was to address what was a world record audience for a cinema premiere with a call to action: to exhort people and governments to wake up and be ‘not stupid’. I’m glad that we seem to have transcended the age of stupid, but wisdom will be needed to avoid the Age of Complacency.
On the plus side, the days are long gone when seemingly every media interview was a battle with climate change deniers or contrarian journalists. Key figures across all sectors of society now comprehend that climate change is real, driven by human activity, essentially irreversible and the greatest of threats to civilisation.
But on the debit side is the worrying indifference seen towards the humanitarian catastrophe caused by Hurricane Idai, the blistering heatwaves in Australia, the widespread retreat of glaciers, and the accelerating loss of global species — all of which (and more) comprise a pattern of worsening climate impacts that is absolutely consistent with predictions.
The blitheness with which these impacts are described as the ‘new normal’ suggests a collective complacency about the severe threats they present to billions of people — not to mention the resulting political-economic instability and conflict by which no-one will be untouched.
Thank goodness then, for the schoolkids. I am sure, like me, many readers of London Cyclist have accompanied their younger children to protest against stupidity and complacency at a school climate strike. Many will also have been led by their children, whether of school age or young adults, to join one of the extraordinary Extinction Rebellion protests. We would be wise to realise that these young protesters are deadly serious: they will hold our generation to account for an irreversible screw-up, one that will hit them worst of all, if we don’t rouse ourselves to action.
LCC has been organising action on two wheels to support the strikers. We were born out of the environmental movement of the late 1970s, and that heritage remains part of our DNA. We will continue to strive to reduce the dangers that prevent people from being able to cycle as their everyday mode of transport — not only so that they can enjoy the flood of happy hormones that getting around by bike brings, but to play our part in rapidly eliminating carbon emissions.
I’m an optimist. I remain confident that humanity will prove itself neither stupid nor complacent. LCC will do its bit; we will assure the school strikers through even more determined lobbying and campaigning that we are, and will remain, on their side and on the right side of history. They are demanding wisdom from us, and we owe it to them to show it — to be ‘Not Stupid’.