‘Earth will be a desert soon - where will we live?’: Hackney youngsters skip school to raise the alarm at climate change rally
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
“All of our animals could die. We could die. We have to be careful,” a young pupil from Daubeney Primary School warned sombrely outside Hackney Town Hall today, on an unseasonably blazing hot September afternoon.
"The earth will be a desert soon. It could blow away. Where will we live? We are only eight," he implored, to cheers from hundreds of other climate campaigners who were all calling for urgent action from the government.
Another child, Fatima from Clapton Girls' School, who had also taken the day off school to express her concern about the climate emergency added: "I hope that us protesting here today we can all make a change and change the world for the better."
The demands of school kids of all ages, teachers, trade union officials, campaigners and politicians for "climate justice" at the rally in Mare Street mirrored hundreds of thousands of others across the UK and millions worldwide on the global strike.
Carleen, a teacher in Hackney and member of the National Education Union - which organised the rally with the union Hackney Unison - also addressed the crowd to express her pride to see so many pupils taking a stand.
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"They should be commended, applauded and fully deserve our respect," she said.
"We need change before their futures are compromised, and as the drivers of this movement we should be responding to their calls to take action until the government realises the scale of this crisis and responds to it."
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People of all ages had designed banners with messages from 'Don't be a fossil fool', 'Let's make the climate Greta again' and 'We're standing up for what we're standing on', to 'Raise your voice, not the sea level'.
Chloe from the local branch of the non-violent protest group Extinction Rebellion said she was touched to see so many people rallying in solidarity with the students strike for climate, which was inspired by Greta Thunberg who did the first one all by herself a year ago.
"Climate is changing at unprecedented rates, and since the 80s the scientific community has reached a consensus that global warming is due to human made activities and that it is posing an existential threat to humanity," she said.
"We are standing today at a turning point for human civilisation. We might be the only species in the planet's four billion years existence to understand the prospect of our own extinction."
A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published last year warned global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels would pose a catastrophic threat to humanity and global ecosystems in the coming years.
"We know this affects our staff not just in work but outside of work," said Glyn Harries from Hackney Unison.
"We have 2,000 workers inside the town hall and the heat is getting unbearable in there in the summer. If that carries on, and we know its going to get worse and worse and worse, it's literally going to make our members' life intolerable in work time. But also we have members from areas we know will be flooded, whether it's Canvey Island in Essex or Bangladesh."
Dan from City Academy, said he was scared of what his future will look like.
"I've come to accept the future of my generation will be drastically different to any in living memory," he said.
"We are here because we are terrified, angry and impassioned. We will not stop until we have got what we came here for, and until our futures are what they are meant to be."
At 1pm following a countdown the entire crowd "raised the alarm for the environment", with horns, whistles, bells, cheers and claps, before chants of: "We will win."