Alexandria Fletcher-Flynn Herr
Thousands of youth protestors in more than 60 different cities around the United Kingdom joined in on a ‘school strike’ against climate change on Friday, February 15th. In Oxford, a normally sleepy university town, a surging mass of schoolchildren and teenagers gathered in Bonn square. A young girl in a maroon crop top stood on top of a garbage can, leading the crowd in a chant: “Hey! Ho! Climate Change has got to go!” She was brandishing a cardboard sign overhead, which read in block capital letters: "I'm too young to watch porn, but I'm still seeing our planet get f*cked!" Other signs in the crowd added teen twists onto traditional eco-protest slogans: “If you can get teenagers out of bed you know there’s a problem,” read another.
Down under, Australia has been sweltering away in baking hot temperatures, with mean January temperatures of over 30°C making it the hottest month on record. On the other side of the planet, parts of the US are currently in the grip of a deep freeze as the polar vortex, a circulation of high-altitude Arctic winds, extended southwards, bringing temperatures of -30°C to Chicago. There has been much discussion in the media about whether climate change has a role in all this, with one of the most prominent sceptics, Donald Trump, in a recent tweet asking ‘What the hell is going on with Global Warming?’ A good question, so without further ado, here’s a handy explanation which (hopefully) will clarify how exactly climate change is involved in extreme weather across the planet.
The Oxford Climate Society was delighted to have Professor Kevin Anderson, current chair of energy and climate change at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) at the University of Manchester, speak on how we can deliver on the Paris Agreement’s 2°C target through cogency, tenacity and courage. The choice to pursue the 2°C instead of the 1.5°C target is may appear strange, given how the former has worse ecological consequences, but it sets the tone in how we need to focus on more achievable targets before pursuing more ambitious ones. In turn, this centers the discussion on how we need to question our existing assumptions (cogency), refocus our priorities (tenacity), and take a reality-check on our current progress (courage).
This interview was conducted by Oxford Sustainability with Oxford Climate Society.
So, who are you?
Anisha Faruk: Anisha Faruk, History, She/Her, Queen’s.
Ellie Milne-Brown: I’m Ellie, I use she/her pronouns, and I’m a third year English student at Exeter College. I’ve been on Exeter’s JCR committee for two years, until the end of 2018, first as Secretary and then as President.
Ivy Manning: My name’s Ivy (she/her), I study PPE at Wadham.
Do you consider yourself an environmentalist? Why?
Anisha: I’m an environmentalist because I am invested in the future of our planet. The welfare of our environment has a direct impact on socioeconomic inequality across the world. Fighting economic injustice is one of my key motivations and this cannot be done without also fighting for environmental causes.
Ellie: Absolutely. I think safeguarding the environment is vital to our continued existence as a species, and even if it weren’t, protecting the natural world around us is essential. I’m really passionate about engaging with environmental issues and making a difference in the world around us, and I think Oxford SU is an incredible tool to do just that. I keep talking about ensuring students thrive at Oxford and improving access beyond admissions – I don’t think there’s any access or any thriving without putting the environment first.
Ivy: Yes, 100%. The environment is so important. It’s one of the most politically neglected issues facing us as a society. I’m really lucky that my parents are committed environmentalists; it’s always been something on my agenda. My dad took me to see this documentary film the Age of Stupid when I was quite young: it’s about the last man alive in 2055, looking back and asking why we didn’t stop climate change when we had the chance. It terrified me but that’s useful, I think, to realise that the worst case scenario is really awful. We try not to let it scare us because in our minds it’s only affecting future generations, but that’s totally the wrong approach.
OCS Media and Research Team
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