Jim Furlong: It is getting better

I am not easily inspired by public marches and demonstrations. Too much time has passed. Too many things have happened. Too much water has gone under the bridge and after a time you think that nothing changes and that, while there are political changes and elections and promises, everything gets added to a mind set that says; same old, same old.

Rulers of the world

Well I am delighted to report that things do change and change for the better. During the last week in September, massive crowds around the world took to the streets demanding action from governments on climate change.

In St. John’s the crowd was estimated to be between three and four thousand! The fact that the crowd was largely, although not exclusively, young people was quite moving. Yes there were politicians there and union people and different interest groups but this was essentially a young crowd that was speaking out above the BS and that is inspiring.

Now some people I know and love said the crowd on the parkway would have been much smaller if the protest was held on a Saturday instead of a weekday and there wasn’t free time away from school. Well that is true but is not really the point. The real issue is that climate change is being driven forward now as a major public subject of debate and the people on-side include the young of the nation and the world.

That’s important because they are the people that will rule the world eventually and, I might add on the matter of climate, not a minute too soon. While there are still people, some of them prominent, who are in denial; leaders elected or otherwise ignore the climate message coming at them at their peril.

Our participation in the climate strike in Newfoundland and Labrador takes its place against a background of the larger protest  around the world that is almost beyond belief in its sheer size.

Just do it: the children

There were millions upon millions of people on the streets in cities and towns from Canada to Vietnam.  In Germany alone nearly one and a half million protesters were on the streets. In Canada “authorities” co-operated. Nobody was charged with skipping classes and efforts were made to accommodate those away from the work place. In St. John’s, there was a shuttle bus service to help protesters. In Montreal young Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg, who has been so important in drawing world attention to the environment, spoke. The Montreal protest crowd approached half a million.

What it all reminds me of is the far off days of protest and the Vietnam War. That horrible war ended when people, largely young, wanted it to be over. So it is with the environment. It has to be fixed and fixed in a hurry. Last week we heard the voice of  people that were speaking beyond borders. They were saying with one voice;“do it”. That so many thousands of  young people from this province marched is inspiring. Our children will teach us.

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