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Why Durham grandparents and parents are getting involved in climate activism

Why Durham grandparents and parents are getting involved in climate activism

We recently visited a display of children's shoes laid at the Angel of the North, talking to some of the grandparents and parents who were volunteering their time to help sound the alarm of the climate emergency.

Within just a few minutes we began to hear the stories behind why they are getting involved in climate activism. 

Sonny, volunteer, said: "It's about the future. It's about our children and our grandchildren, and the sort of life they can expect with catastrophic climate change. And we all just care so much about that."

"We want to represent their lives in some way. So the shoes are a representation of children that will suffer in some way due to climate change."

The shoe display was planned so that it would take place on the same day as the Tour of Britain cycling race, stage six, with its finishing line at the Angel.

Sonny said: "It coincides very nicely with the cycle image, because, you know, we all need to travel more sustainably. And travelling by bike is a very sustainable way to travel.

"So we all need to take the message that we all need to make changes in our lives, so that our children can have a better future."

One of the frustrations that many people have about this climate crisis is the lack of action from our governments as well as the giant businesses and their billionaire owners.

Sonny said: "We need to pressurize the government and businesses to make those changes that are so drastically needed and needed now, not in the future.

"We get promises lots of promises from the governments and claims of what they're doing. But is it enough? And is it rapid enough? And the answer is no. So our children's future is at stake."

Using the children's shoes as a way of mourning lost children's lives is a deeply emotional and moving symbol. It is not just of past loss, but also future loss. Sadly many of the targets our world leaders have set are also set in the future while we are experiencing the major effects of the climate crisis right now. 

Karen said: "We can't deny that the climate emergency is actually with us now, as we have had the floods in Germany, and in Belgium, we have had the flooding of the London Underground.

"I even went to Holy Island recently - I love the place - and went for the beach walk on the cliffs on the sea. But the footpath is totally eroded, just gone suddenly, within a week, too. And there are massive ropes there, because the sea was crashing in a lot higher than that, and the whole thing's gone south."

We are losing physical spaces where we used to love to spend our spare time. Entire island nations, such as Kiribati, the Maldives and Fiji, are losing the very homes and countries they grew up in.

Kay, volunteer, from Durham, said: "I think people are becoming aware of the changes in weather events, and how even on a very local level that can lead to flooding and drought and how that's in the future going to mean that large parts of our planet are just not sustainable for people to live in or for crops to grow.

"So, unfortunately, there's probably going to be a need for migration in a way that we have not even begun to think about. How are we going to be able to equably live alongside each other rather than, you know, being in conflict for common resources".

Thousands are leaving the atolls of Kiribati already, due to rising sea levels and less land being available to live on.

A map by Climate Central shows how much land could be underwater with sea level rise - and this includes large swathes of the UK, as well as in the North East.

If sea levels continue to rise, with just an increase of 2m, this is how much the region around the River Tyne could flood. In blue, the map shows water levels reaching the Metrocentre, and flooding IKEA. 

While a lot of flooding has natural causes, humans are contributing to and exacerbating the impacts and frequency of these floods. Higher sea levels will mean much more of our riversides and coastlines are at risk.

This is why we need to think about our children's futures and act now.

 

 

 

 

 

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