Karl Marx would have been puzzled. Millions flocked to the streets last Friday on five continents, protesting climate change, demanding to halt global warming. The New York Times even
spoke of an “open revolt.”
However, a revolt not initiated by the suppressed working class as predicted by Marx but from a broad social alliance, including people of all generations, rich and poor.
It is a popular uprising against the ongoing destruction of the planet.
There won’t be a business as usual scenario anymore, putting pressing ecological issues on the back burner and letting them slide as done in the past. This is the lesson learned from the latest mass protest initiated worldwide by the Fridays for Future movement.
No more hand-holding for Trump says Corbyn
It was a universal uproar, seen in Melbourne, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Hamburg, Paris, New York City, Stockholm and even in Kabul: Millions of protesters participated in the climate strike demanding an end to the age of fossil fuels. In London, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn harshly criticized U.S. President Trump because of his decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement, questioning findings of scientists. "Let's have no more of this hand-holding for Donald Trump," Corbyn exclaimed. "Let's quite simply say that we want every country on board on this (Paris accord), every country fully signed up and going a lot further than that."
Protests have swelled to an ocean
In downtown Hamburg, where CargoForwarder Global participated in the strike, many of the 100,000 protesters displayed banners and posters displaying fancy and cheeky slogans, such as “Think or Swim,” “ If climate was a bank you would have saved it already,” “No point in waiting or hesitating” or “Stop the Global Pyromania,” and “Make the World Greta Again,” in allusion to young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who kicked off the movement a year ago. Only twelve months later, the protest wave, which relies on the findings of hundreds of international scientists, has matured and swelled to a broad current.
Should the press stay neutral or not?
For journalists, there is a fundamental question: should they remain neutral or join in, showing sympathy for the climate strikes and the demands of the movement in their reporting.
The answer is quite simple. If our children ask us in 20 years “what have you done on September 19, 2019 against global warming?”, each one of us must be able to deliver a convincing answer. And the feedback cannot be: “I’ve done nothing!”
Nevertheless, we as media people should keep a certain distance and not fuel hysteria. The polarization of the world in meat eaters vs vegans, aviation opponents vs passengers, motorists vs. cyclists does not help anyone. In particular aviation, pushed into the role as the bogeyman by radical climate activists although accounting for only 3 percent of global CO2 emissions, has made enormous technological advances in recent years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And this journey to the better is not over yet! Aviation ensures individual mobility, the fast flow of goods between continents, cultural and industrial interaction and even saves lives by transporting vital medicines and vaccines.
Sailing boats aren’t the future
The bitter reality is, however, that climate-neutral traffic, although yearned for by many, is not possible with today's technologies.
Not everyone, like Greta Thunberg, can travel from Europe to the U.S. aboard a sailboat.
In summary, finding convincing and climate-friendly solutions that reconcile the desirable with the feasible is a Herculean task for politics, industry and society, no matter in which country.
It's not too late yet, but the poles are melting, and time is running out. So quick action is needed to stop global warming. A plausible demand that is growing louder and louder thanks to the impressive wakeup call of the Fridays for Future movement and the voices raised by millions that took part in the latest strike.