Youth Strike 4 Climate Change should spur adults into action – leader comment

Hundreds of young people take part in the Youth Strike 4 Climate Change in Glasgow's George Square (Picture: John Devlin)
Hundreds of young people take part in the Youth Strike 4 Climate Change in Glasgow's George Square (Picture: John Devlin)
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The Youth Strike 4 Climate Change campaign shows children have a better understanding of the science – and the urgency of the situation – than many adults.

Schoolchildren going on ‘strike’ is an idea to which The Scotsman is fundamentally opposed. A good education is one of the most important things in any individual’s life and also for society in general.

So it is cause for concern – and headline news – when thousands of pupils take such action, joining a movement that appears to be sweeping the world.

But, in this case, it is the adults whose education is lacking and the children who are teaching the rest of us, so the “Youth Strike 4 Climate Change” is an exception to The Scotsman’s stance on what we would normally call truancy.

The warnings from scientists about the dangers of global warming have become increasingly urgent. And yet the actions that have been pledged by the nations of the world to address the problem fall far short of what is required to prevent the situation becoming dangerous on a global scale.

Children have been learning about the science of climate change in school and, clearly, are aghast at this pitiful state of affairs and the recklessness of adults who should know better.

READ MORE: Thousands of UK school pupils and students strike over inaction on climate change

The basics of that science are simple and well-understood. Carbon dioxide and other gases were discovered to have a ‘greenhouse effect’ on the Earth’s climate nearly two centuries ago. Global warming was predicted in the late 19th century by a Nobel Prize-winning chemist.

As our columnist Susan Dalgety points out today, the teenagers leading the school strike campaign in Europe are winning praise from some influential people.

Hillary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, tweeted that “something extraordinary is happening in Europe – and perhaps soon in America. Teen girls are leading a movement to stop climate change”.

Nicola Sturgeon also chided the journalist Toby Young – who dismissed the school strike as “idiotic” and “self-important” – by tweeting: “Some adults seem determined today to show exactly why we should be listening more to young people.”

And the reason we should listen to them is that they have been listening to the scientists. Too many adults, perhaps set in their ways, have closed their minds to the warnings from researchers working in a host of different fields – from physics to chemistry to biology – or downplayed the need for radical change.

It’s time to listen to our children – so they can get back to work.

READ MORE: Sir David Attenborough: Climate change is greatest threat in millennia