Photos by Gian Nicdao
“How dare you!” When Greta Thunberg addressed world leaders with these words at the United Nations last September, we felt that. Her exact words were “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Last Sept. 20, people from all over the world walked the streets for the Global Climate Strike, a movement sparked by teenager Greta Thunberg in Sweden just a year ago. When she garnered the attention of international media with her lone protest outside of the Swedish Parliament, people around the world started to listen.
Now, everybody knows her name. They know how angry she is, and they show empathy for her cause — a cause that should very much be at the top of every government’s priority. This is not the time for us to be in awe of her bravery. This is the time for us to understand that her calls stem from the fact that it is her future — the whole world’s future — that is on the line if we don’t do anything right now.
We the Global Climate Strike in Manila and got to meet some climate activists.
We joined the Global Climate Strike here in Manila, where we saw firsthand what a climate protest looks like. Granted, that our country has so many other problems to think about — the drug war, corruption, the transport crisis, and so on — but to see that less than 50 protesters were present in an event that calls for the environment was, well, kind of disheartening. People from the provinces spoke about how the climate crisis is a different battle in their communities: while us living in the city have the privilege of protesting in front of the government, they can get killed from simply speaking out their truths. Farmers, whose main source of livelihood is directly affected by the changing climate, are red-tagged for even trying to assert their needs.
[READ: The climate crisis needs our attention, and this young advocate isn’t wasting any more time]
We talked to Jefferson Estela of Youth Strike 4 Climate PH and Chuck Baclagon of 350.org Asia about what what we can do post-climate strike, how we can raise awareness about the climate crisis in a third world country, and why optimism is important despite our grim future.
Do your research.
Raising awareness about the ongoing climate crisis can only be done if you know what you’re talking about. Read up on what climate scientists from around the world are talking about, watch videos of speeches and protests, know the laws. “Do our own research. Fact check about climate change. That way when we go out into the streets or to our community, we know that our arguments are based on facts and science,” says Jefferson.
Join organizations that advocate for the environment.
You can only do so much when you’re alone. The Climate Movement can only be a success if we all work together, and joining an organization is one small step to achieving that goal. Being a part of an organization allows you to be more involved in the movement, and will help the cause more.
Human Rights Commissioner Chito Gascon spoke in front of the protesters and vowed support for climate activism in the country.
Reach out to the marginalized sectors.
If you think that the climate crisis is already bad enough for you who lives in the city, think about the farmers in the peasant communities. These communities are the ones that are directly feeling the effects of the climate crisis: crops are harder to grow, rains and droughts ruin planting and harvesting season, and harvests are harder to sell. When farmers and indigenous peoples try to call out for accountability from the government, there’s an imminent threat to their safety, because of red-tagging and violence brought upon by armed forces. As advocates for the government, it is important that we reach out to them, learn their plight, so we can create a better movement that will benefit everyone.
When farmers and indigenous peoples try to call out for accountability from the government, there’s an imminent threat to their safety, because of red-tagging and violence brought upon by armed forces.
“In the long-term what we would suggest is for the climate strikers to be involved in the actual work of building the climate movement. The question is for them to think about the problem they want to solve, or a social contribution they want to make; it can be informed by the resources you have, the kind of experience they desire, or the people they want to work with,” says Chuck of 350.org Asia. The movement is in desperate need of people, so sign up when there’s a clean up drive or a climate strike. Mother Earth will thank you.
“In the long-term what we would suggest is for the climate strikers to be involved in the actual work of building the climate movement. The question is for them to think about the problem they want to solve, or a social contribution they want to make; it can be informed by the resources you have, the kind of experience they desire, or the people they want to work with.”