Topics like veganism, living plastic-free, circular economy and recycling are hot within climate change right now. With experts, politicians and the media conflicted over the severity of the issue, it is hard for people like you and me to know what to do… right?
Katabatic Climate Conquerors is a series of articles here on RADAR that aim to investigate the current “climate” in the debate around climate change today. I will interview young and old people, experts and non-experts and try to get a clear image of the landscape of climate change. I will gather opinions as well as expert advice. Personally, I try not to use the term expert lightly, but I hope to gather tools, advice and encouragements on the way to hopefully get a better understanding of how we can combat the enormous challenge of climate change. This is the first part of the series.
… we are bombarded with horrible things on all kinds of media today, numbing us to not really be moved by big things that matter anymore.
What got me inspired and motivated to step into writing about this topic and investigating more about it, was when I saw the final scene in the second episode of Netflix’s new “Our Planet” – if you haven’t already – watch the entire thing. I don’t want to spoil anything – but we are bombarded with horrible things on all kinds of media today, numbing us to not really be moved by big things that matter anymore – but this was different.
A woman is making food over an open fire in a small rural village of Mozambique. A baby is looking at her mother from a crib, anxiously waiting for something to eat. All the while the mother is trying to cook food for herself – and then it hits. Idai is regarded as one of the most devastating tropical cyclones in recorded history. What made it so devastating was where and how it hit. 
It is summer in USA. A family is on vacation in the forests of California. Their hut is deep within the woods. Earlier, they had a campfire going outside, and now they play board games; the kids are happy to finally be with their father, who just got back home from Syria. The next morning, their mother wakes them up. “Hurry. Don’t bring anything – we need to get to the car fast!” Camp Fire was California’s most deadly and destructive wildfire ever.
Flooding, super typhoons, droughts, heat waves, forest fires, and I could go on. The climatic upheaval we saw in 2018  is continuing in 2019, and citizens of the world are exceedingly affected by it. It has a huge impact on millions of people, and a huge impact on humanitarian work as well. To battle this change, limiting our carbon emissions and rectifying the continuous rise of temperatures, we need to take measurements for the future – but which ones?
It seems hard for adults globally, to agree to the extent or severity of the problem – we love to argue the complexity and size of the problem and easier (and sometimes naïve) for younger people to see a simpler problem with a black/white solution. Where adults, (myself included) have a harder time with immediate change to habits and visions for the foreseeable future, younger people might be less “set in their ways” and more adaptable to change. Do we need a Habermasian conversation?
Greta Thunberg and the youth’s relationship to climate change
In this first article, I want to introduce 2 young girls from Denmark, Ida and Sofie, ages 13 and 14 – who both participate actively in the Green Student Movement  here in Denmark. They live on Bornholm, where they took the initiative to start striking on Fridays for the climate. I asked them about their thoughts, concerns and hopes for today and the future, concerning climate change, as well as role models and possible solutions;
… they might just come from a time, where this wasn’t something people talked about. They can’t really see what is going on in their day-to-day life …
What are your feelings concerning climate change?
– Ida says, “I think it is important that young people, and really just people in general, start thinking about this situation we’re in. There are too many people walking around, not really knowing how severe it is. How bad the state of the climate is. We consume too much, without giving it further thought. We produce things we don’t need.”
– And Sofie adds, “I think it is terrifying. It can frighten me to think of what climate change is – what it means when greenhouse gases are being emitted.” (Read more about the consequences of increased amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere here – and, for the “extreme entusiasts” here)
Where do you think we should start?
– “Green energy, because we have solutions in this area. This is where we have the most answers – we know what to do. Windmills and solar panels have never been cheaper.” Sofie says. Ida follows up, “I think it is important to think of how we consume, ourselves. If a lot of people did that, we can still get to make a huge change.”
What do you feel like we consume too much of?
– “Just plastic and how much waste we produce. Straws – generally, just things we don’t need.”
What is already being done? What kind of change do you see being made?
– Sofie: “Well, we do have the Paris-agreement, where countries need to work on decreasing their carbon footprint, but I don’t feel like enough is being done  Furthermore, in 2018 the Danish government pushed for a climate initiative to create one wind farm. I don’t believe one wind farm would be nearly enough to reach the need for all Danish households and I don’t understand the discussion over how far out to sea, it should be planted.”
What are you doing yourself right now, Ida?
– “Well, we discussed it a lot in class and at home with my parents. I became a vegetarian 2 years ago – and we both live on Bornholm (Ida and Sofie) so we need to fly more often than others. It haven’t made the biggest changes concerning it – but I’ve started thinking about it a lot more.”
What about you, Sofie? … and is this something visible?
– “I’m a pescetarian, where you only eat fish (as opposed to any other meats and dairies) and then there are things like avoiding plastic bags, single-use straws and just any plastic packaging as well. Small things make a difference.”
Do you talk with anyone about your climate battle? Do you share it with anyone?
– “I was born and raised in a family, where we debated a lot of our views and opinions – so of course I share with my parents and siblings, and they’re very moved by it.”
What do they say?
– “At first, they were skeptical – but the more we talk and the more they read about it themselves, the more it occurs to them that this is very important. So now they back me up in everything I do.”
What about your grandparents?
– “Well, at least not on both sides of the family, haha!”
What exactly is the resistance?
– “I think that they might just come from a time, where this wasn’t something people talked about. They can’t really see what is going on in their day-to-day life so I think they want to use their energy on other things.”
So – out of sight, out of mind?
… new generations will be more aware of what might happen, if we don’t do what is necessary…
Do you have any inspirations or role models?
– Both: “Greta Thunberg!” and Ida continues, “she is the one who started it all. I think, if you ask anyone who cared about climate change, they would mention her. She inspires so many children going to school, and just people in general.”
What are your thoughts when it comes to the future, Sofie?
– “I could see it ending two ways. Either politicians come to realize the gravity of the situation, and then we all do something to live a less luxurious life to try and help the climate – or we don’t get to do anything in time, and we will experience more and more extreme weather, flooding and droughts.”
Do you think that, in the long run, we’ll have to alter the way we live completely?
– “Yes – at least Europeans, who live very luxuriously.”
What about you, Ida?
– “I hope that people in the future are very conscious. The old generation have had a big role in the destruction of the climate, and I think new generations will be more aware of what might happen, if we don’t do what is necessary to maintain and uphold the climate in its best state.”
It seems obvious, that even the very young are up-to-date and knowledgeable about climate change. If we’re to listen to Ida and Sofie and follow their advice on what to do ourselves, we should remember to not buy stuff we don’t need and avoid single-use plastics. If any prominent politicians with power to make a political change are reading this, please be more courageous and ambitious and plant more than one new wind farm!
Next time, I invite Jens and Kristine to share their views, using some of the same questions and angles – but I also want to invite YOU, the readers, to come with suggestions and requests for people and certain questions or topics, you would like explored in this series. Don’t hold back, and please reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org – OR start a debate on Facebook or Instagram with others – maybe someone shares your thoughts on what topic or who would be cool to interview.