We Must Listen to Them!

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Mr Gérard Montpetit believes that the youth of the world have sent a clear message about the necessary action that must be taken against climate change.  Political leaders and the CEO of the world should listen to them when they expressed their concerns on March 15.

We Must Listen to Them!

 »More than 150,000 québec students have gone on strike » says Le Soleil (1). The students marched in the streets of Montreal, Quebec city, Saguenay, Joliette, Rimouski, Baie-Comeau, Sherbrooke, Gaspé, and Sept-Isles! Here, as in the rest of the world,(2) the students demonstrated about the lack of concrete action to address climate change. After all, it is their future which is at stake! And to emphasize the seriousness of their purpose, I have not heard that there were any unfortunate rioting by thugs such as we saw in the case of “les gilets jaunes » in France. Bravo!

The seeds of this action in favour of climate action were sown last August when a 15 year old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, decided to skip classes in order to demonstrate in front of her country’s parliament every Friday. Although she was alone at first, her action attracted so much attention that she was invited to speak before the COP 24 United Nations climate change conference last fall. In sympathy with her cause, some 1.4 million students from 128 countries decided to follow in her footsteps this March 15th(3). This amazing action calls to mind these celebrated verses of classical playwright Pierre Corneille :  »…je suis jeune, il est vrai ; mais aux âmes bien nées, la valeur n’attend pas le nombre des années (I am young it is true; but for well-born souls, valor does not wait for the number of years) ».

Youth must pressure politicians and the heads of multinationals to move from words to action. Of course, the political leaders and CEOs talk  »green » in all their speeches, but they act  »black ». It is continual greenwashing by public relations services. One blatant example amongst thousands : how can the Prime Minister of Canada justify the purchase of the TransMountain Pipeline, the necessary tool for the development of “dirty” tar sands, as a means to attain a carbon neutral economy? How does producing more COallow him and Canadians to do their fair share in order to respect the Paris Accord and hold global warming to 1.5, even 2 degrees celsius?

 » Why study fora future which will not exist? » (4) demand the students from France. People talk of  »saving the planet », but the planet has survived five mass extinctions of species… and it will continue to orbit the sun with or without humans on its surface. It is “homo sapiens” that we need to save; or more specifically, the future of the world’s youth. Serious scientists like Elizabeth Kolbert tell us that the 6thgreat extinction has begun. (5) This extinction process is “the fire in our home”! To deal with this apocalyptic emergency, the Prime Minister may use either of the two tools available in his political tool box : a can of gasoline or a fire extinguisher. Buying TransMountain is equivalent to professing the belief that gasoline can be useful for extinguishing fires! On the other hand, the youth of the whole world demand that all our leaders henceforth use the fire extinguisher to limit the damage. Climate change has begun; has the damage to our home reached $5000, $50,000 or is “our home” a total loss? That is what the global demonstrations on March 15th were about.

Despite the self-induced delusions of climate deniers, climate change will be a serious threat to peace in the world during the 21st century because a person in desperate straits is willing to do anything to survive. Since the civil war in Syria, the Chiefs of Staff of the Pentagon took note : climate change exacerbates tensions between peoples. If the sea level rises several meters, it will require a lot more than a “Trumpcurtain” to halt the hundreds of millions of climate refugees arriving at the U.S. border. These are the sort of predictable problem which prompted some people to suggest the name of Greta Thurberg for the Nobel Peace Prize (6)

From Davos to Beijing, including Moscow, London, Riyad, Wall Street and Washington, the bigwigs of this world must pay attention to the message that the youth of the world is sending. The stock market returns of the Dow Jones for the 1stquarter of the year should not weigh heavily in the balance while our young people realize that their future will be turned upside-down by climate change! As singer-composer Serge Fiori’s well-known song says,  » On a mis quelqu’un au monde, on devrait peut-être l’écouter (Having brought someone into the world, maybe we should listen to what they have to say) ».

Gérard Montpetit

retired teacher

March 24, 2019




4] https://www.notre-planete.info/actualites/482-greve-climat-etudiants

5] La 6e extinction par Elizabeth Kolberg, édition Guy Saint-Jean, 2015, 400 pages

6] https://www.nouvelobs.com/planete/20190314.OBS1755/greta-thunberg-egerie-de-la-lutte-pour-le-climat-proposee-pour-le-nobel-de-la-paix.html