This article originally appeared on VICE UK
It's easy to feel defeated by the climate crisis.
We live in a world whose elected leaders declare a climate emergency and then immediately approve a massive oil pipeline extension, or support fossil fuel companies, or back the building of a road tunnel that will worsen air quality in an area already seeing illegal levels of air pollution. A world whose leaders outright reject the need for climate action, who turn away donations to help battle fires destroying the Amazon rainforest because those leaders would rather act like petty toddlers who value their own pride over the lives of 7.5 billion people.
All very depressing stuff that doesn't exactly fill you with hope.
But we can't be defeated; if we give up, that's it for the planet as we know it. Every single person in the world needs to recognise this issue for what it is – the biggest threat to mankind, more important in the immediate future than trade deals or immigration controls or "taking our country back" – and act accordingly.
That's why VICE UK made the decision to substantially step up our climate coverage at the beginning of this year; why, this week, we're homing in on environmental extremes around the world; why we – along with over 250 media companies – signed up to Covering Climate Now, an initiative that aims to strengthen coverage of the climate issue; and why we're supporting this week's Global Climate Strike, from the 20th to 27th of September.
Some personal changes will make a difference to the health of the environment, notably switching to a plant-based diet and, most importantly, trying to avoid flying – but much of the responsibility lies with governments and the policies they can and must enact. Ultimately, it's going to come down to at least the top 20 carbon-emitting nations adopting some variation of the Green New Deal – no small ask, but an essential step towards stopping everything from going completely to shit.
Doing this is an unattractive prospect to those 20 countries, because a) it would require a lot of work, and b) it wouldn't go down particularly well with Big Energy, an immensely powerful industry with a huge amount of political sway. To be convinced to act, governments – which are there nominally to serve their citizens – need to be reminded that what their citizens want is to not die horrifically in a water war.
Skipping work and taking to the streets is one compelling way to do just that, as is working with any one of the inspired and inspiring protest groups which have sprung up to demand government action on the climate crisis. If you can't leave work, there are other things you can do to get involved.
Whatever it is you do to save yourselves, you've got to do something – because currently, you're the only hope you've got.