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Today, at least 50 rallies planned across Australia are expected to draw thousands of students who are walking out of school to protest climate change inaction.
These Australian students join children from over 82 countries who are striking to highlight systemic failure to address climate change.
Strikes - Frustration - Resistance - Evidence - Process
But the strikes represent more than frustration and resistance. They are evidence of an even bigger process of transformation. My research investigates how young people's sense of self, identity, and existence is being fundamentally altered by climate change.
Striking children are experiencing "existential whiplash," caught between two forces. One is a dominant culture driven by fossil fuel consumption that emphasises individual success, encapsulated by Resources Minister Matt Canavan's remarks that striking students will never get a "real job": "The best thing you'll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue. Because that's what your future life will look like […] not actually taking charge for your life and getting a real job."
Hand - Evidence - Climate - Change - Parts
On the other hand is the mounting evidence that climate change will make parts of the planet inhospitable to human (and other) life, and fundamentally change our way of life in the future.
Children are up to date with the facts: The Earth is currently experiencing its 6th mass extinction; Australia has just had its hottest summer on record; and experts warn we have just 11 years left to ensure we avoid the misery of exceeding 1.5 degrees of planetary warming.
Adults - Kari - Norgaard - Terms - Reality
Meanwhile many Australian adults have been living what sociologist Kari Norgaard terms a "double reality": explicitly acknowledging that climate change is real, while continuing to live as though it is not. But as climatic changes intensify and interrupt our business-as-usual lifestyles, many more Australians are likely to experience the climate trauma that school strikers are grappling with.
Confronting the realities of climate change...
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