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Editor's comment: If only these kids were the ones in charge

PUBLISHED: 15:27 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:27 29 May 2019

Children from Hackney demonstrate for action against climate change on the steps of Hackney town hall. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Children from Hackney demonstrate for action against climate change on the steps of Hackney town hall. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Archant

The sight of so many dead fish in the River Lea is heartbreaking.

It's a peculiarity of human emotion that we often respond more intensely and empathetically to small-scale, tangible tragedies and conflicts than national or global crises - and maybe you could accuse us of the same in publishing a few hundred dead fish but jettisoning a worldwide climate emergency (as a local newspaper, though, we must pay some attention to geography for fear of totally undermining our reason for existing).

That makes the actions of the children on the town hall steps even more remarkable - they are confronting a crisis so huge it is hard even for adults (including those who govern the world) to comprehend. And of course credit must go to their parents and teachers, who have not only educated them about this issue that dwarfs all others, but also facilitated the protests that have brought it to life for them.

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I often think parenthood makes people selfish on their children's behalf, probably out of terror - to an external observer it can seem like parents think their children are the only people on the planet who matter.

But these kids are learning to be concerned not only about others, but about their own impact on the world. That to me smacks of much better parenting than simply sacrificing the wellbeing of others to give your child the best or most sheltered life possible.

Right now, more children than ever are motivated to make changes that will help the environment, and Hackney's schools should take that as a cue both to be greener in themselves and to teach the greenest, most engaged curriculum possible.

But as the kids themselves point out, this can't wait until they are grown-ups. That's a real shame - because right now I have more faith in their generation than I do in my own.

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