We, at Offcut, are throwing our full moral support behind the students going on strike for climate action this Friday here in New Zealand and around the world. And we’re calling on other businesses and leaders to do the same.
We need that hope because, to be honest, when it comes to climate change, there’s not much to be hopeful about.
As longtime campaigners on climate action, the school strike movement has given us a tremendous amount of hope. Since the movement was started by Greta Thunberg last year when she was 15, we’ve been heartened to see it spread across the world. We need that hope because, to be honest, when it comes to climate change, there’s not much to be hopeful about.
Personally, I had tears in my eyes when watching the students in Australia strike in November. It was a combination of awe and inspiration that got me, but the killer blow to my tear ducts was the thought that, since I first became aware of climate change when I was at school 13 years ago, things have not progressed. In fact, they’ve only gotten far worse. I remember wondering after seeing Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth with my mum when I was 16, “Why is climate change not on the front page of every daily paper?” Today, climate change is making the front pages thanks to amazing people like Greta and the striking students.
And fundamentally, that’s why the school strikes are important: not because they give people like me a slither of hope, but because they make headlines and put real pressure on the politicians, leaders, and adults who have known about climate change for decades, but still knowingly continue to make things worse by failing to act in a meaningful way. To quote Greta from her must-watch TEDx talk:
“The one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then and only then, hope will come.”
That’s why we’re throwing our support behind the school strikes. If you're in Aotearoa, join the students at marches around the country (we'll be there in Christchurch!). Details can be found on the School Strike 4 Climate NZ Facebook page. Details for global strikes can be found here. If you’re an adult, support your children who want to strike. Go with them. Educate the adults who are trying to bully them out of it. If you’re a business leader, join the likes of Warehouse Stationery — which is printing placards for free — and give your support to the striking schoolchildren.
Greta talks about how she sees the world in black and white and children, in general, have an incredible ability to see things as they are. No filters, no bias, clear cut… no blurry vision from oil and gas cash payouts. That is how us adults also have to see the climate crisis. It is black and white. We’ve spent 30 years debating the risks, pointing the finger, and patting ourselves on the back for taking part in totally inconsequential talk fests. In the face of what the science is telling us, the current response to this global crisis is absolutely pathetic.
Climate change is the single biggest real threat we face as a species to our way of life. I’ve met people on the frontlines of climate change — such as some of the thirty million Bangladeshis whose land will be taken by rising seas by the end of the century — and the thing that kills me is the injustice of it all. It’s us, the rich and developed countries who have created the bulk of emissions, but it’s the poorest people around the world who will suffer the worst consequences. The same injustice applies across the generations: it’s previous generations, and current generations of adults who’ve had the greatest negative impact in getting us to where we are today — on the precipice of the cliff — but it’s the children and generations not yet born who’ll have to do the clean up when we fall off it.
Greta puts it beautifully, albeit tragically:
“What we do or don't do right now will affect my entire life and the lives of my children and grandchildren. What we do or don't do right now, me and my generation can't undo in the future.”
So, schoolchildren have more right than any of us to be angry. They have more right than any of us to be striking and taking to the streets. They’ve been here the least amount of time to consume, pollute, and burn carbon, yet they’re the ones who’ll be cleaning up long after today’s world leaders are buried underground… six feet closer to whatever oil they didn’t manage to burn while they were alive. Children spend about 18 years at school, so sacrificing a half day to speak out about their entire future is a no-brainer. At school, we hope that our children will learn how to contribute to the development of society and that is exactly what they are doing. And of their own initiative.
"Schoolchildren have more right than any of us to be angry. They have more right than any of us to be striking and taking to the streets."
The fact that children feel the need to strike from school is extremely alarming. They feel that the adults and leaders of the world are failing them when it comes to solving the climate crisis. And they're right. We are failing them.
The challenge ahead is monumental, but not impossible. It’s a common misconception that there is some point at which it is too late. It is true there are identified points at which things get bad, but it’s not like it stops at “bad.” After “bad” comes “really bad”, and after “really bad” comes “worse”, and after “worse” comes “worse still”... you get the picture. The simple fact is: the faster we act, the less damage we do. The less damage we do, the less cleaning up our children are left with.
So, to the students planning to go on strike, we say this:
"Good on you. Hold the politicians, business owners, leaders, and adults of this world accountable for the mess we're creating which you will have to clean up. By striking, you will be on the right side of history. The adults trying to intimidate and bully you out of it will be on the wrong side."