Youth climate movement puts ethics at the center of the global debate

phys.org | 7/23/2019 | Staff
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Even if you've never heard of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist who crossed the Atlantic on a sailboat to attend a Sept. 23 United Nations summit on the climate, you may have heard about the student-led Global Climate Strike she helped inspire, planned for Friday, Sept. 20.

People from more than 150 countries are expected to head to the streets to demand climate action. According to the organizers, the strike aims "to declare a climate emergency and show our politicians what action in line with climate science and justice means."

Strike - Youth - Movement - Friday - School

The strike was galvanized by a global youth movement, whose Friday school walkouts over the last year were themselves inspired by Thunberg's own three-week strike in August 2018 to demand climate action by the Swedish parliament.

People of all ages will be joining this year's protests at the United Nations, and adults—with their environmental organizations, climate negotiations and election campaigns—are gradually getting on board. The Union of Concerned Scientists even published an "Adult's Guide" to the climate strike to help parents of participants get up to speed.

Kids - Climate - Change—and - Way - Challenge

But the kids are clearly leading on climate change—and they're changing the way we talk about this global challenge, putting ethics at the center of the debate.

Economic assessments of climate change, such as cost-benefit analysis, have for years helped justify political procrastination. By discounting the importance of anticipated harms to people in the future, policymakers can argue that taking actions to address climate change today are too costly.

Thinking - Today - Grown-ups - Generation - Thunberg

Short-term thinking by today's "grown-ups" ignores her generation, Thunberg says.

"When you think about the future today, you don't think beyond the year 2050," she said in a 2018 TED talk. "What we do or don't do right now will affect my entire life and the lives of my children and grandchildren."

Youth - Climate - Activists - House

Youth climate activists argue that "our house is on...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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