While living in Berlin, Germany, over the past two months, I have noticed something strange. All over the city have popped up these small communities of tent-dwellers full of young people living there.
Recently, I have discovered why. These people have decided to go on hunger strike to protest the disastrous effects of climate change. Each day, they gather together and discuss and debate how current politicians around the world have been handling the problem.
Many of them have vowed not to eat until politicians start seeing this problem for the existential crisis that it is. As I write this article, they are now on day 11 of the strike. This means that many of these kids haven't eaten a single thing in 11 days.
Given that the entire world seems to be facing the negative effects of global warming, whether it's the pandemic, forest fires, or uncontrollable storms and floods, it seems appropriate to talk about one initiative that has actually been working.
In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed September 16 of each year to be International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This date is meant to commemorate the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol.
The aim of the Montreal Protocol is to protect the ozone layer by advising each country to take measures in controlling the production and consumption of substances that deplete it. The Montreal Protocol was the first treaty in the history of the U.N. to achieve universal ratification.
And the plan has been working. Since 1987, countries have begun phasing out these harmful chemicals which cause ozone layer depletion. As a result, the ozone is healing.
Not only has the protocol help protect the ozone for future generations, but it has also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change. With the hole in the ozone layer almost completely sealed, human health and ecosystems have been protected by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth.
Of course, this is only one step and not nearly enough to curb the damage we, as humans, have had on our planet. However, I think it highlights what we are capable of if and when our global community learns to cooperate and take action to address the climate crisis.
Watching these kids literally starve themselves to bring attention to climate change brings within me feelings of hope and fear. I don't know if the global community and its governments will take the necessary steps in time to curb the problem.
But maybe enough people around the world will start taking notice of the disastrous effects that climate change is having on our planet and our lives. Let September 16, 2021, serve as a reminder for all of us that we do, in fact, have the power to reverse climate change if we all agree to do it together.
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