I was listening to a report on the school strike movement demanding action on climate change when a New Brunswick student was asked why she walks out of school every Friday to demonstrate at the local government building.

“What is the point of school,” she asked, “if my future is being destroyed?” And then she said something so simple and powerful that I had to immediately write it down: “Climate change is the lens through which every decision must be seen and made.”

The school strikes, which are now worldwide, began when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg started a one-person weekly walkout to sit down outside the Swedish parliament.

Greta addressed the recent U.N. climate change conference in Poland: “For 25 years, countless people have … (begged) our world leaders to stop emissions, and clearly that has not worked as emissions are continuing to rise. … Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”

What a devastating indictment of the rest of us. For years we have understood the threat from climate change. We know what has to be done to turn things around. And yet we fail to act.

An emerging blueprint – the Green New Deal – seeks to address the issues at an adequate scale. It is not a fleshed-out plan, but a series of ideas providing a framework for discussion.

In truth, discussion should have ended a long time ago. But we have to start somewhere. What is essential is that these belated conversations translate into the political will for bold enough action to salvage the future for Greta and her classmates around the world.

“Climate change is the lens through which every decision must be seen and made.”

Nigel Calder


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