Thursday, 14 March 2019

Fantastic reasons to #YouthStrikes4Climate


Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at the 
#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at the 
#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


This is a letter I sent to New Statesman, of which part was published on 15 March 2019.

My generation is more aware of climate breakdown and the impact it will have than any generation before us and so we should care more than anyone else. It seems outrageous to us that the people deciding how to deal with climate breakdown will not even be alive to face the consequences that are surely going to define our lives and those of our children. The reason we are protesting and taking part in the Youth Strikes for Climate boil down to the fact that our government and policymakers have not taken sufficient action to combat climate breakdown, and, like most governments around the world, are almost completely ignoring it as it does not fit in with their own agendas. Many of us have become disenfranchised with the system. I have never seen anything like the strikes, which are energising so many people my age around the world.  It has have given us hope and – more importantly – motivation to act. The strikes are important because now we are able to take our future into our own hands; it feels like we could finally trigger change.

#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

In many ways, the youth strikes are one of the most interesting ideas I have heard about, let alone taken part in. There are very few large impact protests like this that focus on the needs and desires of young people, giving us a voice. I think that it is essential for teenagers to take part; it is incredibly easy to feel that we are not being listened to and so, because of this, allow apathy to take over. Many feel there is no point in shouting when no one is listening. 

I have been involved with the UK organisers and have been relentless in speaking to people my age at school and online; asking if they are going to strike and if not, then why not? Some people have said that there is no point protesting, implying that they feel we can not impact change. Asking my friends who are striking why the responses ranged from “I don’t want to die before I’m fifty” to “I want to be a part of something important” to “no one is listening to us and decisions are being made without us. It has to change.”

#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


Although some schools have not been happy about striking, mine has been very good. When I first asked my head of the sixth form about the consequences of striking, he only responded by saying “I can’t endorse it” with a smile, suggesting that anyone striking would not be punished. I have also heard rumours that some teachers have been helping students make banners and may even be giving lifts into Bristol to attend the protest. Schools should be supporting pupils to strike as the benefits of engaging them in politics and protest far outweighs the lessons missed.

#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


Another reason that I care so deeply about climate breakdown is the impact it will have on people in poor countries who have not contributed to its cause and can do nothing to stop it; sixteen of the twenty countries most at risk from climate breakdown are in the developing world. 

Studies have shown that the Earth’s average temperature is projected to rise by 4 degrees Celsius while the mean sea level is also set to rise by about 0.5 metres. Such drastic changes are caused primarily by four agents:
• Greenhouse gases
• Deforestation
• Ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide
• Loss of sea ice

For me, climate breakdown is not some grim, dystopian future or vague concept, but a harsh reality. My maternal family is Bangladeshi and live in a country already facing some of the worst effects of climate breakdown. I hear constant news about the 3.5 million climate change refugees that have already fled to the capital, Dhaka, and the increasing numbers of typhoons destroying coastal communities and their livelihoods. 


Bangladesh in drought
Copyright Quarz India


The Climate Risk Index is a figure that expresses the extent to which countries are affected by changes in climate. Only four developed countries figure in the top 20 worst affected countries. Poorer, developing nations are hit much harder by the phenomenon. Here’s a look at some of the countries that are worst hit by global warming.

Projections indicate that sea level rise will cause heavy flooding in certain areas of the country. A rise of 45 cm in the sea level will likely result in the inundation of about 10 per cent of the country. For sea level rise of 1m, 21 per cent of the country will go under saltwater (IPCC, 2005). Such a rise is likely to inundate coastal wetlands and lowlands, cause an increase in coastal erosion, increase frequent and severe floods and create agriculture-related issues.



Bangladesh in floods
Copyright 2002 National Geographic Society

Bangladesh is subject many of the effects of climate change due to its geographical location, hydrological regulation from monsoon rains and regional water aggregation patterns. The country receives too much rain during the monsoons and too little water in the dry season. This situation will be exacerbated by a warmer climate, resulting in increased flooding and droughts which threaten to adversely affect agricultural output. What worsens the situation is the fact that the sea level is rising from the south and the increase in the reception of water from Himalayan glaciers will cause inundation of the regions located in the base of the mountains.

At a personal level, my grandfather's village had terrible storms causing flooding and wiping out rice crops - their food supply for the next  5 months. As a family we able to help to support them, but most families are not so lucky. Countries like Bangladesh are starting to demand that the West take responsibility and take climate breakdown refugees. By 2060 it is predicted there will be up to one billion of them worldwide.

Bangladesh in floods
Copyright Probal Rashid Huffington Post


Bangladesh in floods
Copyright #breakthroughjuniorchallenge


A stereotype that irritates me is the idea that young people just do not care anymore, that we are social media obsessives who are detached from real-world issues. It could not be further from the truth. Social media is the tool allowing events like the climate strikes to occur, and it is the conduit that has helped increase awareness of climate breakdown. The Youth Strike for Climate campaign has been almost entirely driven through social media, gaining a global presence. This Friday is an amazing example of what social media can help to achieve. 

Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at the 
#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig



About the Author


Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig 
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


Mya-Rose Craig is a 16-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes posts about birding, conservation and environmental issues from around the world. 

She has been involved in the UK organisation of the Youth Strikes encouraging young people from around the world to not go to school once a month and protest instead demanding immediate action to prevent climate breakdown. This is an interview in New Statesman.

She was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people

She organised four nature camps for children and teenagers since 2015 and is helping to run four more in 2019. She also organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans two more in 2019. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Visible Minority Ethnic people and is President. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. 

She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She is a Minister in Chris Packham's Manifesto for Nature in 2018 and spoke in front of 10,000 people at the Walk for Nature. She has also appeared on TV and radio and is particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-silent-roars-2017-online

She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017. She was also listed as one of Bristol's BME top 100 powerlist.


She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She became the youngest person to see 5000 birds in 2019 age 16 and is looking forward to visiting Brazil birding in 2019 and hopes to see half the birds in the world there. Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter. If you would like to contact Mya-Rose about her work, please e-mail helenabcraig@hotmail.co.uk.







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