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MEDSEA with students for the #schoolstrike4climate

“I am here for the demonstration of the earth and the sea”, stutters with accidental clarity Francesco, four years old, his small hands holding a sheet where colourful letters state: “The elves will change the world”. Francesco and four of his peers lead in Cagliari the “Global strike for future” parade, a day of walkout against climate change that has won the participation of more than a hundred cities around the world. Millions of students took the streets in Rome, Berlin, London, Athens, New Delhi and Sydney, answering once again to the call of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish sixteen-year-old now candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the twenty days preceding the election of September the 9th 2018, Greta skipped the lessons at school preferring instead to sit quietly in front of the Stockholm parliament, armed with a sign saying “Skolstrejk för klimatet”, school strike for climate. To the oncoming assembly she asked to comply with the Paris Accord for what concerns the carbon dioxide emissions. After the elections Greta reduced her solitary strikes to Fridays only. But in the meantime her example had inspired thousands of young students around the world, who began to emulate her peaceful act of accusation towards the global political class, responsible of having ignored for decades the devastating impact that climate change has on human beings and the ecosystems. Through a simple and communal language the young multitude drew the solutions’ horizon to the present.

“Skolstrejk för klimatet” and “There is no pla(et) B” appear in Tokyo’s as in Cagliari’s demonstrations, symbols of an energy that needed only a spark to become a clear claim. “I started to follow Greta some months ago, on Twitter”, says Gabriele, a student at his second year in high school. “Among the first images that I saw while doing some research in the web was the “Great Pacific garbage patch”, the floating island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, as big as Spain. It was a shock, really. From then on I actively follow the news concerning ecology. I couldn’t miss the strike today”.

“Plastic is just one of the issues vexing our seas, olthough it is among the most evident”, explains Maria Pala, biologist and member of the Medsea team, which took part to the parade. “The increase of Co2 in the atmosphere determined the acidification of the waters, creating a dangerous threat to sea life, attacking indeed the frail balance that allows the growth and reproduction of many organisms”.

Along the path leading to the port the students sing and whistle, they stop occasionally to rise their voices in a roar that is a call for the city, which timidly shows up in builders, housewives and employees peeping out of their balconies. Little, though enthusiastic, is the delegation of the old generations. They follow the group defiladed, enjoying the small, endless miracle. Giovanni, a retired, has a sign hanging on his neck stating “if the world were a bank they’d already saved it”. “We are sons, not masters. Respect for Gaia!” claims the cardboard brought along by Sabrina, who adds: “The politicians have failed, they have been incapable of answering to the instances coming from the populations, above all to interpret the needs of the younger generations. But if our teenagers today shout their will for change we haven’t failed, some of us resisted, some of us stayed alert along the years”.

Salvatore and Marco, from the faculty of economy, show their sign in Sardinian language: “pro su clima”, for the climate. “There aren’t many university students around. During the last month we talked to many colleagues at uny. Their answer has been always the same, they think that solving the climate issue is something that belongs to politics, and to politics only.

But this would mean perpetuating the very same attitude that brought us to disaster”, they tell us. Salvatore goes a bit further in his analysis: “We’ve got to change capitalism, we must make it sympathetic and sustainable for the nature and the people. At present is just a system of exploitation of the stronger ones”.

“It is very important that the Sardinian community, as many others in the Mediterranean basin, gathers here today to ask for a solution to a problem that affects us all”, say Alessio Satta, president of Medsea. “The Mediterranean waters have increased their temperature of 1.4 C°, and this has generated disgraceful consequences as concentrated rainfalls, often disastrous for the environment and the economy, and droughts. Or extreme phenomena as the so called “Mediterranean hurricanes”, which hit the quadrant framing Sardinia, Sicily, Tunisia and part of the Greek islands. We are dealing with a grave emergency. Of course it is a political and cultural issue that ceaselessly creates and widens inequalities. While the northern European shore is a protagonist in the model that produces and suffers climate change, but it enjoying the economic benefits of it, the African shores face only the negative consequences. For this reason, together with its international partners, and among them the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in particular, Medsea is developing strategies and projects involving the evaluation of the damages created to the marine ecosystems, as well as the actions that need to be taken in order for these areas to adapt to the new challenges deriving from climate change. It is never easy, but you only have to look at this demonstration, to this young protagonists of the future to feel that hope is alive, and strong”.

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