There’s power in numbers

In a call to action to their fellow students, sixth formers Reagan and Sophia, both members of the GDST’s new Eco Society, say that with greater scale comes hope, and an opportunity to make real and lasting change.

Planet Earth has warmed by an average of 1°C in the past century. Sixteen of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. We have lost more than 50% of our coral reefs and CO2 concentrations are currently 410PPM, unprecedented levels not seen in the last 800,000 years of our planet. We have just 10 years to make significant changes… the numbers go on and on. This is seriously gloomy stuff.

But there are glimmers of hope. Hope that the political classes are finally beginning to act – Boris Johnson’s 10-point-plan, China’s pledge to carbon-neutrality by 2060, Joe Biden’s declaration to re-join the Paris Accord. Maybe this marks the start of a post-Covid green revolution, but maybe these are no more than promising words from politicians that have so far failed to take climate change seriously and so forcing us to make the sacrifices we now need to make to prevent a climate catastrophe.  Can we afford to trust the older generations to deliver on these promises, or do we have a responsibility and perhaps a unique opportunity (as the generation whose future will be impacted most by today’s decisions) to keep them to their word? Without doubt the answer is yes.

“Each degree matters, each year matters, and each decision matters: not acting today is adding to the burden of the next generations.”

– Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of the IPCC’s Working Group

Of course, there are many things we can do on an individual level: for example, eat less meat, use less plastic, fly and drive less, consume less.  But real opportunities come from the power of numbers, in our case, the number of students across GDST schools.

Had Emily Davidson acted alone, her death at the feet of King George V’s horse would have been nothing more than a footnote in a 1913 newspaper; she wouldn’t be part of our folklore today. But she didn’t act alone, she acted with thousands of other women, as part of the Suffragette movement, and we know what came from that collective sacrifice.

So how does power come from numbers?

With scale comes a louder voice – look at how Greta Thunberg’s message has been amplified by the hundreds of thousands of young voices joining her Skolstrejk för Klimatet. A single voice is easily ignored, you can’t ignore the masses.

A single voice is easily ignored, you can’t ignore the masses

With scale comes the ability to coordinate the activities and actions of willing, enthusiastic and passionate environmentalists. Rather than us working independently on similar tasks, we can co-ordinate and assign them, optimise our efforts and impact through digital platforms and committees – yes this is a plug for our  GDST Eco-society.

With scale comes hope. Honestly, what hope can one girl have, when watching David Attenborough bring to light the mass extinction we are currently experiencing on Earth? A great deal of hope, if she knows she’s part of a united and growing force, composed of, for example, the GDST Eco Society, the UK Environmental Agency, Friends of the Earth and the UN IPCC, all part of the same orchestra,  focussed on changing the trajectory of humanity’s impact on earth.

“We have show[n] that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable.”

-Greta Thunberg

This is a call to action. If climate change and biodiversity matter to you, be hopeful, but be active. The ambition of the GDST eco society is directly proportional to the number of students who join us.  With scale comes ambition – realistic, lofty ambition. We might begin to think beyond the scope of our individual schools with enough support. There is a role for everybody in this – every minute counts. We look forward to welcoming you and working together in 2021 to make our schools, our community, our planet a healthier, happier and greener place to be.

GDST Sixth Formers interested in joining Eco-Society, please click here.