Saturday, 16 March 2019

Supporting The Climate Strikes



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


Guest blog by Henry Greenwood, Green Schools Project


Since waking up to the reality of climate change in 2007 when watching Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ I always thought of it as something that could be prevented if we all worked hard enough to persuade people to change their behaviour and governments to change their policies. 

Since then, while there have been changes and shifts in the right direction, it has been nowhere near enough and 2018 was the year that I accepted that climate change cannot be prevented. It’s too late for that. The climate has already changed, and the still increasing amounts of greenhouse gases that we are emitting make further climate breakdown inevitable with increasingly devastating consequences. 

In October, the IPCC Special Report came out stating in clear terms that we were way off track to avoid catastrophe and that we have 12 years to drastically change the way we live. Not long after, WWF produced a heartbreaking report stating that 60% of wildlife had been wiped out by human activity since 1970. To put all this into a UK political context, however, around the same time, Philip Hammond delivered the 2018 budget without a single mention of climate change.

These reports have been galvanising forces that have raised awareness and focused minds, but in the past, there have been many reports and events that come and go with media noise at the time, only to be forgotten in the continuous news cycle and our collective return to habitual ways of life. One story that emerged towards the end of 2018, though, genuinely has the potential to change the course that we are on. 

It is the story of young people rising to the challenge to which adults have failed. Greta Thunberg started striking from school and sitting outside the Swedish Parliament in September and has been doing it every Friday since then. Now over a million young people around the world in thousands of events are taking part in the Youth Strikes, making the point that their futures are being compromised by the lack of action from older generations on climate change. 



#YouthStikes4Climate
Copyright Henry Greenwood

Where does the Green Schools Project fit into all this? I left my job as Head of Maths at a Hackney Secondary School in 2015 to start the organisation as my way of contributing to tackling climate change. In assemblies, we tell students about the reality that they are facing and how they can play a part in addressing the greatest challenge we face. I don’t encourage students in the schools that we are working with to go on strike, that’s entirely for them to decide, but we stand squarely in solidarity with the young people choosing to take this action and support their call for a planet that is still habitable by the time that they are adults. 


#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

One of our goals as an organisation this year is to amplify the voices of young people calling for change to a system that is causing the mass extinction of species and will lead to the end of our current way of life. I hope with all my heart that the young people that I see in schools will have the opportunities and freedoms to live and work, travel, and enjoy the natural world as much as I have, but I fear that this will not be the case. Maybe young people will be the ones that finally provide the wake-up call that is needed to treat this crisis as the crisis it really is, and decisively change the course of events.



#YouthStikes4Climate in Bristol
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig



Henry Greenwood Biography



Henry Greenwood
Copyright Henry Greenwood
Henry Greenwood is the founder and managing director of Green Schools Project. Henry trained as a Maths teacher and developed the role of Sustainability Coordi­nator working with Year 12 students who promoted various green projects. After 2 years as Head of Maths at Skinners’ Academy in Hackney he decided to step out of teaching in order to start Green Schools Project, using his skills, ideas and resources built up during the successful programme at Kingsmead.



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 narure 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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