By: Mina Zahine
Last week, I woke up from a nightmare in the middle of the night. I was in a city about to be engulfed in what looked like 30 foot waves. That night, I could not go back to sleep because it felt like a bad omen, like a prophecy of what was yet to come. Before I woke up, I vividly remember thinking: will this tsunami be enough for the world leaders to get their acts together and start fighting for our planet rather than against it?”
For the past week, the climate catastrophe has been on my mind, as I am sure it has been for many around the world. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that it is “now or never”. We have to mke changes now if we want to have a fighting chance. Meanwhile, it seems like our world leaders could not care less. Though he ran on an election platform that boasted an impressive climate action plan, President Joseph Biden left out the topic in his state of union address on March 1st. He has slowly been walking back on many climate-related promises. Instead, he is spearheading catastrophic actions, such as releasing a record amount of 30 million barrels of oil in response to the increasing oil prices and discussing plans to open more public land to drilling. The Government of United Kingdom announced it would increase its exploration of oil and gas days after climate scientists warned of the dangers of our continued reliance on fossil fuels.
Feeling helpless and tired of screaming into the void, climate scientists have taken to the streets in the United Kingdom to protest their government’s blatant ignorance of impending climate catastrophe. Ecologist Dr. Aaron Thierry was among the scientists who glued their hands to the UK Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. When asked why, he passionately said, “I am having to do this because our government is basically ignoring all the evidence and we have tried all the rational, normal evidence-based policy approaches and they’re just not acting according to it. The government’s insane and I don’t know what else to do, other than to do this to try and get the attention we need to wake the public up!”
The protests in the UK have inspired climate activists in the United States to take to the streets of Washington DC and rally outside the White House. They are calling on President Biden and the Congress to pass the $2 trillion bill, known as the “Build Back Better Act”, which would bolster US investments in technologies for fighting climate change. The bill also includes $550 million in spending and tax credits to promote clean energy. However, it has been stuck in the US Senate since December 2021 because of unified opposition from Republicans and the conservative Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III from West Virginia.
The recent protests have many of us wondering: what impact will these protests have on influencing concrete governmental actions to address climate change? These protests have already garnered more and more attention from the general public with videos of the protests and responses to them circulating on popular social media apps such as TikTok. Will the momentum that has been building since the release of the IPCC report outrage enough people so that they also take to the streets and demand actions from their elected officials? We can only hope so. All I know is that we no longer have the luxury of dreaming of a better world. We have to fight for it.
Mina Zahine is a young Afghan woman who specializes in communications and content creation and is currently based outside Toronto, Canada.