Forum: Climate change: Young activists' call for urgent action welcome

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the Fridays For Future Denver Climate Strike on Oct 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the Fridays For Future Denver Climate Strike on Oct 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.PHOTO: AFP

Unlike Straits Times global affairs correspondent Jonathan Eyal (When green protesters hurt their own cause, Oct 21), I applaud the efforts of that "precocious child", Greta Thunberg, to encourage a real sense of urgency about climate change.

While many initiatives are already being taken to reduce greenhouse gas production, it continues to grow from year to year. Plainly, much more needs to be done. While climate protests take place in countries where protests are allowed, people in other places who are concerned about the environment do find ways to make their feelings known.

It is true that there are no such public protests in China, and that it is responsible for the largest volume of carbon dioxide emissions in the world, but it is also true that, reflecting their relative wealth, the more developed countries have a significantly higher output of greenhouse gases per capita than China.

There is a logic to pressing for those most able to make changes to their lifestyles and consumption patterns relatively quickly to do so; it is harder to make those changes in countries where most people's spending is on the bare necessities of life.

As to Mr Eyal's proposal that we should pin our hopes of combating global warming on more "capitalism and globalisation" and "free competition", that does not seem credible in a world where rainforests are being destroyed in order to create cattle ranches and monocultural plantations, where clothes are turned out and soon binned in the name of fashion, and many electrical goods seem designed to survive just beyond their warranty period before needing replacement.

Too much time has been wasted because of the obstruction of climate change deniers and the foot-dragging of those content to coast along with the status quo.

Greta Thunberg and the children and young people who have joined climate protests have helped to promote a greater sense of urgency about climate change, and that is to be welcomed.

John Gee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2019, with the headline 'Climate change: Young activists' call for urgent action welcome'. Print Edition | Subscribe