FridaysForFuture: Why Schoolchildren Skip Class For The Environment

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FridaysForFuture: Why Schoolchildren Skip Class For The Environment
FridaysForFuture: Why Schoolchildren Skip Class For The Environment

Video: FridaysForFuture: Why Schoolchildren Skip Class For The Environment

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Video: Fridays for Future calls global climate strike | DW News 2023, January

Dmitry Kurkin

Fridays for Future School Strikes are gaining strength around the world. This is far from the first environmental protest movement, the purpose of which is to draw the attention of world leaders to the problem of global warming and irreversible climate change. But, it seems, for the first time, children and adolescents have turned out to be the core of the struggle for the future of the planet.

"Friday for the Future"

The Swedish Greta Thunberg became the ideologist and symbol of "Fridays for the Future": on August 20 last year, at the end of an abnormally warm summer, accompanied by forest fires (according to meteorologists, there was no such July heat in Sweden for two and a half centuries), a fifteen-year-old student instead of lessons went at a single picket to the building of the country's parliament. She repeated her action every two weeks, on Fridays. Photos of a girl sitting sadly on the steps of the Riksdag or handing out flyers with the words "I do this because you adults don't give a damn about my future" were all over the news feeds. Greta found like-minded people in neighboring European countries, but things did not go beyond private initiatives in the first months.

The breakthrough came in late November, after Thunberg was invited to speak at the Stockholm branch of the TEDx conference. Apparently, it was this speech that started the chain reaction. A few days later, a national school strike took place in Australia (where the Great Barrier Reef is dying out at a catastrophic rate as a result of warming and water pollution). Then "Fridays for the Future" swept across Europe, and after the New Year holidays, the movement unfolded in full force, turning into thousands of weekly protests with an official hashtag - and an official of the campaign. By the end of January, Greta Thunberg managed to speak at the UN summit on climate change and the economic forum in Davos.

Now regular events on Fridays are held by schoolchildren (and their parents who have joined them) in hundreds of cities around the world, primarily in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Australia and the USA. How long they will last no one can predict.


It would be more correct to speak of Fridays for Future as a decentralized movement, under the umbrella of which gathered both those who were inspired by Thunberg's speeches and those who were already engaged in environmental activism in one form or another (for example, the Dutchwoman Lily Platt, who began to fight for cleanliness environment back in 2015, when she was six or seven). Many of them self-organize already at the school level, creating their own organizations for their peers.

Among them, for example, the UK Student Climate Network, launched by 17-year-old Anna Taylor from London, along with four other high school students. Among the requirements of the organization: to make the fight against global climate change a state priority; give the right to vote in elections to citizens of the country aged sixteen (and not eighteen); inform people about the seriousness of the problem - including through environmental education in schools.

The past and personal status worries the participants of the action much less than the future. As much as they are not worried about the number of actions (single pickets in support of the movement are held as regularly as rallies of many thousands), nor the ironic skepticism of those who consider them truants who have chosen a convenient excuse to "get away from the couples. “I don’t usually miss lessons, so it wasn’t an easy decision for me,” says Thirteen-year-old Scotchwoman Holly Gillibrand, a member of Extinction Rebellion, launched three months ago in Britain.

Problem number one

As if the protesters needed a special document confirming that their environmental concerns are justified, three hundred and fifty Dutch scientists last week signed an open letter in which they supported the participants in Fridays for Future and joined their demands. “It’s time for the political leadership [to intervene]. We can no longer afford to sit back and not take the necessary measures."

However, the authorities still prefer to communicate with the striking schoolchildren through the head teacher. Netherlands Education Minister Ari Slob said that the protests would be better postponed to the weekend: "Education is education, and we are not going to allow truancy."

Fridays for Future confirms once again that the generation of those who were born after 2000 (and they are the basis of the current school protests) perceive the world as much more united - also thanks to the Internet. And they begin to understand that various manifestations of global warming observed in different parts of the Earth - whether it be fires in California, the death of corals off the coast of Australia, or the invasion of polar bears wandering into the homes of residents of Novaya Zemlya - are essentially nothing more than alarming symptoms. the same processes. This means that the protest against them must be united.

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