Commentary

Are Climate Activists Helping or Hurting the Common Man?

By Vijay Jayaraj | September 16, 2019 | 2:29pm EDT
(Photo by Martyn Aim/Getty Images)

Climate activists are known for their passionate protests to save the environment for our future generations. It is almost as if a deep sense of compassion is associated with their efforts to make the world notice the peril of our environment.

Are they helping or hurting the common man?

Protests can be of different types, and can be unique too. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), for example, is known for its peculiar ways of animal rights activism.

I live in a land that is famous for protests, but peaceful ones. Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful protests played a major part in India’s gaining independence from the British. Highly influenced by Gandhi’s non-violent method of protesting, Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement peacefully in the U.S.

Not all protests are peaceful. Some cause wide-scale disruption, and some even result in damage to life and property. Protestors argue that the violent and disruptive methods are ultimately for the good of the people.

But ends don’t justify means. Lately, most climate protests have been either disruptive to the public or detrimental to a certain demographic of population that has been persuaded to participate.

Largely under-reported from the global mainstream media was the climate protestors’ wide scale disruption of daily life in London numerous times this year. Only a few media outlets reported on the issue elaborately, while there was no mention of the anger the protests sparked among commuters.

In April, a climate protest led by Extinction Rebellion took place for two weeks in central London, causing major travel disruption.

Instead of coming down heavy on the group, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, sympathized with the actions of the group. However, his patience did not last long. He asked the protestors to stop because they were undermining law and order and actually causing more environmental damage. The Metropolitan Police charged hundreds of protesters with offences.

It was no surprise that 52 percent of Britons disapproved of the protests, while only 36 percent approved.

Earlier this week, climate protestors tried to disrupt flight operations at Heathrow airport in London. Calling themselves “Heathrow Pause,” they had planned to disrupt flights to highlight “the grave risk of airport expansion during the climate and ecological emergency.” Upon the arrests the group said they were just ordinary citizens, but ordinary citizens do not seek to disrupt flight operations that could affect thousands of families and children!

The climate activists have also utilized the climate panic created among school kids by making them join their protests. Global school strikes have now become common. The face of the school strike movement, Greta Thunberg, did a climate strike near the White House last week.

The New York City Department of Education, which oversees over 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students, sent out an official tweet saying that it would “excuse absences of students participating in the #ClimateStrike on Friday 9/20.”

Amnesty International has recently written to hundreds of schools asking them to allow their students to take part in a worldwide climate strike scheduled in September.

So, what really are these students protesting about? An imaginary doomsday forecast about the future state of climate, which is produced by faulty models with a proven track record of failure to even predict the trend of warming.

Though the school protests are peaceful, they are not necessarily helpful. Going on a school strike isn’t going to help students understand climate or science better. Every single day on strike is a day of education missed. Not every student has the public relations support or the stardom Greta enjoys.

And let not the peaceful nature of protests trick you into undermining the capabilities of school kids. In March, school kids called out the previous Prime Minister Theresa May with derogatory terms during their protest in front of the British Parliament. This past week, NPR reported Greta as having said that people inside the White House “don’t accept the science.”

It is an ironic that these students refuse to learn science in the name of protest, then call out the government for denying science, then (presumably) eventually return to school to study the very same government’s curriculum.

Climate protestors have been more harmful than helpful. There is no explanation as to why they would block streets, seek to disrupt airport operations, and refuse to go to schools, when almost all the countries have already signed the Paris agreement to fight climate change.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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