Kochi: Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has now inspired the whole world to act on climate change. Her two-week long sit-in protest in front of the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, for climate action has triggered a movement the world over with millions of young people marching on the streets in solidarity with her demands.
The movement has inspired students in Kerala as well and the momentum is picking up on the campuses. Is it a defining moment for the young generation here and what are their plans for saving the planet? Classroom tries to figure out.
Alby Satheesh, Class XII student of KE English Medium School, Mannan am, Kottayam, says drawing inspiration from Greta Thunberg, the classroom must turn the epicenter of action to tackle pollution and climate change to the extent possible. "An hour in a week should be dedicated to environmental protection," Alby said. "I have resolved to replace plastic-coated book wrappers, pens and boxes with items made of biodegradable materials like paper and jute. Students should be trained to make paper carry bags and seed pens. I have already switched over to paper carry bags for shopping."
Alby suggests that schools start a 'pet tree' campaign. "Each class can plant a tree on the campus and take care of it," he said. "The tree will remain as its symbol of friendship on the campus even after the class passes out."
Adhithya Jino of Class XII, KE School, Mannanam, suggests incorporating agronomic studies in the curriculum as part of espousing the cause of the environment. "I have developed a 20-experiment (CBSE curriculum-based) kit for classes 2 to 6 that teaches the importance of agriculture and creates a bond with nature," he said. "My project has got approval from the state government and am waiting for an appointment with officials at the centre. It is currently being implemented in a few schools in Kerala." "No awareness can properly be brought forth as long as younger age groups are not represented in agro-based activities and research. School-based activities always make an impact on the young minds. Such activities foster patience and love for nature in an otherwise digital media addicted generation," he said.
According to Nikhil D. Jacob, Class XII, Naipunya Public School, Thrikkakara, Kochi, climate is one of the main factors deciding whether the planet is suitable for dwelling or not. "Unbridled human activities adversely affect the climate," Nikhil said and suggested a three-pronged approach to make a difference. "It should begin with massive awareness campaigns, followed by planning actions and thirdly, their implementation. Timely review and effective corrective measures are an integral part at each of the three phases," he said and suggested schools must conduct brainstorming sessions involving teachers and students, followed by seminars or talks by experts.
Nikhil also suggests setting up a school weather lab for students to learn about the changes and patterns in the environment. He has an advice for the elders, too: they must opt for car pooling when they come to attend functions in schools.
From the fires in the Amazon to the back to back floods that ravaged Kerala, it has come to our knowledge that climate change is our worst enemy, say Afrah Rafi and Adithya Prakash of Class XII of Naipunya Public School. "Following in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg, the students of Kerala, too, should go for radical initiatives to protect the environment. We would try and use cycle for travel to reduce emissions."
S.B. Sanjay of Class XI student of Sivagiri Sree Narayana Senior Secondary School, Varkala, rues the lackadaisical approach of the authorities in the implementation of the laws, rules and conventions that are made for protecting the environment. "We are facing depletion of resources, biodiversity loss, and radio-active waste," said Sanjay. "So my emphasis will be on less use of plastic and recycling of used plastics and nylon bags. Use of LED bulbs is another priority." He welcomed Kerala government's recent announcement that it will build eco-friendly and disaster-resilient shelters.
Sanjay's schoolmate Shees Muhammed says it took the floods to drive home the perils of climate change in Kerala. "This summer saw Delhi-like temperatures across southern Europe; Hurricane Dorian rendering large parts of the Bahamas unlivable and simultaneous fires raging in the Amazon and other terrifying events," Shees said. "Every sound mind knows tackling these rampant environmental crises is the need of the hour."
"Thunberg exemplifies that no one is too small to make a change. My model is a vegan diet. Meat production requires a lot of energy. Not only do you have to grow the crops to feed the animals, but fossil fuels are burnt in the raising, slaughtering and transportation of animals. In fact, livestock and their by-products account for 51 per cent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. So if you choose to eat meat, your greenhouse emissions can be twice that of someone on a plant-based diet," said Shees.
He also suggests making investment in renewable energy and diverting from traditional pollution-causing sources like fossil fuels. "Public transit, electric vehicles and car pooling are advisable," he said. "Many regimes have breached carbon-emission restrictions in a bid to accelerate industrial growth. People should use their franchise to choose leaders who they think are committed to environmental protection."
"A boy who took the environment pledge on June 5 would violate it the very next day," said Syam Mohan K, Class X student of MSS Public School, Mavilikkadavu, Kozhikode. "You may think it ridiculous, but it happens. This is you and me. We are aware that pollution will destroy us and the ones we love. Still, why are we continuing it? Answer is pretty simple: 'practical thinking isn't happening." Syam Mohan said an effective degradable alternative to plastic is yet to emerge. We should pledge to avoid use of all that pollute."
"We all must know environment is our backbone," said Hajra Hazeeb, Class X student of MSS Public School, Mavilikkadavu. "Following in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg, let us at least make small moves like planting 4 - 5 saplings on the school surroundings and nurture them. Let us also support waste disposal management around our locality. Past is past but future belongs to us and let us hold our hands together for a green future, she said.
Yes, the Swedish green war hero has ideological lieutenants in Kerala, too....