On the 20th of September 2019, across the world, there was a single topic being discussed – climate strikes. A rather simple solution to spreading awareness and demand action by the concerned citizens (read: children, teenagers and young adults) for something as terrifying as rapid, unstable climate change.
If you’re confused as to why those adjectives have been placed before “climate change” in the previous sentence, it has to do with the fact that the climate has always been changing. Yet, starting around the 1950s or rather the “Golden Age of Capitalism”, with an increase in spending and consumerism, there was a hike in carbon dioxide emissions. Plus, with the tumultuous years that would follow when globally, there would be an upsurge in population, consumption, wars, technological and industrial development – the older generation didn’t take the environment into account and now, Greta Thunberg, the most famous and influential environmental activist in the 21st century has moved millions by the single act of sitting outside the Swedish parliament with a sign calling attention to the climate change.
Although there have been others before her, indigenous people who have always been protecting land, forest and water sources from colonizers/industrialists and activists who have staged hundreds of protests just to safeguard natural resources, who have always had the solution to environmental depletion – people living in urban areas were just unaware because leaders called global warming a hoax and let us face it, we took things for granted. Even then, as criticism on her and heavy debates pertaining to why she was made the face of this environmental revolution persists, it should be noted that there is a grave crisis looming over our heads.
Sikkim may be one of the greener pastures for people who live in crowded cities and our claim to fame because of the ‘Organic State’ tag has almost deluded us into thinking that global warming may not affect us.
On 20 September 2019, millions of school children bunked their classes to strike for climate change – both in India and abroad. If any of us were hoping for the same in Sikkim, many were disappointed. Yet, there was one institution that took up the initiative to strike for the climate – Darap Senior Secondary School in West Sikkim. Often it is ‘woke’ and rather privileged students who post about environmentalism, feminism, casteism, but there is only a handful who would follow through with the ideas and make active participation a priority.
The teachers and students of DSSS did their part by taking part in the #FridaysforFuture global climate strike, rallying from their school to 5th Mile, spreading awareness about global warming and environmental decline. But, there is still hope that more people in Sikkim will join the movement on 27 September (and beyond), with more strikes and rallies being set up in West Sikkim, Pakyong, and Gangtok by schools and organizations alike.
If there is one thing we can all agree on today, it is that if water sources dry up, the land turns infertile, forests catch fire, species of flora and fauna go extinct – there will be no one but us to blame. When there is a call to action, we have to move quickly and pressure governments to slow down and take into account the futures of the coming generations. In the words of Greta Thunberg’s “Our House is on Fire” speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos – “There are no grey areas when it comes to survival. Now we all have a choice. We can create transformational action that will safeguard the future living conditions for humankind, or we can continue with our business as usual and fail. That is up to you and me.”