Friday, June 14, 2019

Don't Steal the Future From the Young

On May 24, more than 500 youths protested simultaneously in various places throughout the country. "We can't exercise because of the fine dust"— Mathematics is important but we have a right to be educated about climate change"— "Please don't gamble with our future"— signs held high in demonstrations. So begins an article in the Catholic Peace Weekly by a member of the Bishops' Committee on the Environment.

Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl, who at age 15, began protesting outside the Swedish parliament for immediate action to combat climate change and will boycott classes until she sees efforts to bring change.

In a  lecture held in Stockholm last November, Thunberg said, "Why should I study when the future may disappear? You say you love your children, but you are stealing their future." She emphasized the urgency and importance of developing climate change measures.

The main contents of the demonstrations conducted by the Korean youths following Greta's lead are to put environmental education into the curriculum. Which reminds us of the fact that unlike other countries, Korea lacks basic efforts for dealing with climate change.

The educational climate of Korea is focused on entrance examinations to college; lack of education for survival is a painful point. Unlike adults who feel discomfort because of climate change but do nothing, the young people are demanding we do something with the continued abnormal temperatures, fine dust, etc., youths are demanding we face the problem and urge resolution.

According to the Climate Change Countermeasures Index (CCPI) 2019, Korea is ranked 57th out of 60 countries in terms of the climate change response index and has the stigma of 4th place among carbon dioxide emission countries of OECD.

This generation is borrowing the use of the planet from future generations, and conscious only on how to use and develop the earth? 27 years ago, at Rio's UN Climate Change Conference, despite the serious warnings of climate change and dangers ahead, is it not only the young people who are conscious of the problems ahead?

We know there is something wrong with our planet, but don't know it has anything to do with me. It's a Chinese problem, a foreign matter, the earth is a strange place, and it doesn't register that the problems are caused by me. It's convenient after all to use delivery services for ordered goods, power plants need to operate, environmentally harmful substances are produced, disposable items such as packaging materials and containers are used, waste generated. How much awareness do adults perceive our actions and habits cause pollution and that these things are interconnected and cause climate change? Yes, it will bring about a new world order which we find difficult to accept.

Unlike adults who think admission to college, Korean language study, English and Mathematics are what's important, young people want the right to receive climate change education. Young people's values and environmental sensitivity from childhood can lead to action. Adults desire for comfort and abundance is it destroying the future of the children they love?

She ends the column with these words of Thomas Friedman:"Destroying the tropical forest is like burning the masterpieces of the Louvre to make dinner."

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