Time for a pro-nature conservation rant (after all, my VienNature Culturegram has the word “nature” in it, and I´ve been neglecting that part a bit).
“Species have always gone extinct”. “The earth´s climate has changed many times before”. This and other unscientific global warming and climate change myths are commonly spouted by the uninformed and the – often politically motivated – “skeptics”. Of course, if you want to keep on doing everything exactly like before, because after all you yourself are comfortable and – maybe – might not live to experience drastic change, then it is easier to think that way. To some, arguments about human-made impacts on the earth´s ecosystems, our foundations of life, are a red cloth. Almost as if those “unrealistic do-gooders” were laughable at best, and the enemy at worst. What many do not realize is that what is going on affects human lives, and not in good ways. The short-sighted arguments of the doubters can drive me to despair. But when hundreds of thousands of young people around the world take to the streets in the Fridays for Future movement to demand sound environmental policies from their governments, and when scientists step up support their arguments in a new Scientists for Future initiative, I take heart.
#FridaysforFuture is a people movement following the call from 16-year old @GretaThunberg to #schoolstrike4climate. The movement began in August 2018, after the amazing – then 15 years old – Greta sat in front of the Swedish parliament every schoolday for three weeks, to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis. She posted what she was doing on Instagram and Twitter, and the movement took off and spread from there.
“Start focusing on what needs to be done – Not what is politically feasible!” ~ Greta Thunberg
So back in May I joined one of the Fridays for Future marches in Vienna, and I made a photo reportage (some of which I posted with accompanying texts on my @in_publico Gallery on Instagram and have reposted here). That particular Friday protest event was focused on the species extinction crisis. Species extinction and climate change are interconnected problems, but there are many other factors beyond climate change (all of them human-action driven) that cause species to become endangered. Current extinction rates are 1000 times higher than the natural “background rate”. Background here means pre-human, i.e. before people took over the entire planet. If you are wondering what I mean by “taking over”, look at how historian Yuval Harari puts it.
If you took all the people in the world and put them on a large set of scales, their combined mass would be about 300 million tons. If you then took all our domesticated farm animals—cows, pigs, sheep and chickens—and placed them on an even larger set of scales, their mass would amount to about 700 million tons. In contrast, the combined mass of all surviving large wild animals—from porcupines and penguins to elephants and whales—is less than 100 million tons. (Yuval Noah Harari about ecology)
By way of example, he goes on to tell us that in today´s world there are about “…200,000 wolves, compared to 400 million domesticated dogs”. Now, don´t get me wrong, I love dogs a lot, but you can easily see what these numbers mean.
In my Instagram series I have captioned each picture with background texts on a particular issue, so if you want to learn more, you can head over to my gallery and check out the texts.
The movement continues and has expanded from students to other groups, such as farmers, artists, parents, and the above-mentioned scientists. There are activities planned throughout the summer in Austria, and hopefully politics will follow. Because if such a movement does not bring about the necessary change, I am afraid to imagine what it would take.
Here are some more pictures from Heldenplatz on 31 May 2019 in a slideshow.