Environment

Four children hold up posters to a crowd: ‘Mother Earth Needs You: Big or Small, Your Actions Matter!’, ‘If you can’t clean your surroundings, then don’t make it dirty’. Two of the older kids have nebulizer masks wound around their nose and mouth. The message is clear: a day may come when you would not be able to inhale freely.

They stand at the entrance of the Kanakakunnu Palace in Thiruvananthapuram, where a surprisingly large number of people, mostly school students, have come to take part in the global climate strike, happening across the world from September 20 to 27. The movement by school students began after a Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg began a protest outside the Swedish Parliament last year, with a sign ‘School strike for Climate’.

Around the four children standing in front of a banner at Kanakakunnu Palace are other school students, holding similar placards, listening to sessions, asking questions, singing and dancing, all to create awareness about climate change. The event is put together by Rise Up Forum (formed during the Kerala floods of 2018), in association with National Service Scheme, Thanal, Bhavans, Treewalk, Sustera, LeCole Chempaka, Nallapadam, Indus Cycling Embassy, March for science and WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature).

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Inaugurating the event, MLA Mullakkara Ratnakaran, chairman of the assembly committee on environment, says, “All other living beings get along with nature, humans did, too, in the beginning. But the humans who created cities have moved away from nature. In the fight against nature, man can never win. Nature is too strong, nature is also our protector.”

Jinsil PK, of the Rise Up Forum, introduces the students to the programme, tells them there is no need for a Utopian thought of stopping the use of plastic overnight, but everyone could definitely reduce the use.

Concerned questions come from the students during an interaction with environmentalists. Methane is one of the major greenhouse gases (that causes carbon emission) but India is also a large contributor of the gas, coming from cow dung and so on, what can be done about it, a girl asks. Another asks if there could be a policy to restrict the number of vehicles bought by one family.

They have also prepared postcards to send to the government of India and request to declare a climate emergency. 

Also read: ‘We want Climate Justice now’: Hundreds turn up in Bengaluru to support global rally

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