This below is the text of the speech given by George Hassall in St Peter’s Square, Manchester, on Friday 15 February, reprinted with kind permission.
I’m George and like the rest of us here today I’m representing the voice of young people. For me, coming here and speaking up about climate change, for what I believe is right, is so important and I want to be able to say, “I was there, I was there when young people took action”
But I just want to take a moment here to reflect. In the 21st century we look back on significant events like World Wars 1 & 2, the first man on the moon, women’s’ rights and Rosa Parks refusing to move from her seat. Now I was having this conversation with my mum and I said “In 50 years from now when we look back at how far we’ve come, what will we look back on? Will we look back at a time of great invention? Will we still see a beautiful world of great natural landscapes? Or will we look back on a world of rust and steel? A world with no ice caps, a world with no forests. A world therefore without polar bears, without orangutans, a “world without life.”
With that in mind we need to think about what we’ve done, what we’ve done to this planet, what we’ve done to our home. Human beings now populate nearly every land mass in the world. How many more animals are going to die because of us? How many more innocent lives will it take for us to wake up to what is happening to our precious planet.
I believe, “Seeing is human, but opening your eyes is a skill.” This couldn’t be more apparent than today. If we reflect back on the faults of man, many animal species have been affected by hunting. Take the dodo bird for example, peaceful, innocent. No more is the dodo bird, when settlers kill, wipe out, exterminate the whole population. All dead because of us, climate change just like hunting, means that innocent wildlife is lost forever, because of the greed of man, all for the need of man, the hunger of man.
Now it’s time to talk about the other things that climate change will inevitably affect; wetter summers, warmer and possibly later winters, early springs. If we’re going to mess with the weather we’re going to mess with the ecosystem. Some plants only have one pollinating insect, a bee for example that that plant relies on, and that bee relies on that one plant. If that plant and bee go out of sync, (kaput) they’re both dead.
That is what is going to happen if we continue to refuse to accept what is going on right in front of us. If we think of this on a practical (and I dare say on an economical) level If we have these varying seasons; when the blossom appeared early on apple trees in New York one spring all was fine. But then there was a cold snap, all the blossom, all the future apples, lots of people from New York wanting apples and all the money made from the apple business, gone. That is the hard truth we’re going to have to face.
I represent the generation who climate change will most affect and I see it as my job to spread the word.
I shall end my speech with a bit of rewording from one of my favourite songs, London Calling by The Clash
Young Un’s calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared and battle come down
Young Un’s calling all over the world
Come out of the suburbs, you boys and girls
Young Un’s calling, look to us
Phony petrolmania has bitten the dust
Young Un’s calling, see we got lots o’ swing
Except for the collapse of the ozone ring
The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growin’ thin
Engines stop running, but I have some fear
‘Cause Young Un’s are calling out, and we live for our future