Skopje, 14 March 2019 (MIA) – We take our civilization for granted so any discourse hinting at its destruction seems highly unrealistic. But, our time is running out. If we don’t take global action, the life expectancy of people born in the new millennia will drop. We are Europe’s environmental black hole and we must work harder than the rest. No one can help us, if we don’t help ourselves first, says Ivo Bosilkov.
He is a PhD candidate from the University of Milan and one of the organizers of the climate change protest that will take place in front of the Government building of the Republic of North Macedonia on Friday.
Tell us more about the Fridays for Future initiative, and the expected outcome of this week’s protest.
Fridays for Future is an idea conceived by the youth for the youth. Its leader is Greta Thunberg, a Swedish girl who started skipping school every Friday last year, in order to protest in front of the Parliament building. Her demand was very simple; she wanted everyone to see climate change for what it really is-a threat to our civilization.
Greta became a prominent figure, because at 15 years old, she showed that she was much more conscious of future threats than any world leader. People started joining her strikes, as they realized that young people have the potential to change the future.
Greta is the inspiration for the Fridays for Future movement, a network of eco-activists and thousands of progressive young people. They all see this movement as the last chance to prevent climate catastrophe.
Friday’s protest will take place in over a thousand cities in almost a hundred countries, and one of these cities is Skopje. We hope that we’ll be able to contribute to this cause and force the authorities to do their part as well.
What are, in your opinion, the sources of pollution in our country?
Without a doubt, the biggest sources of pollution here are the factories like Drisla, Jugohrom, Feni, Usje and Makstil, that contaminate our air, water and soil. The fines they pay for failing to meet emission standards are ridiculous. They can afford to constantly break the rules because they earn a lot and pay very low taxes.
It’s in the politicians’ best interest for this situation to prevail, as these companies are the pillars of the economy. Additionally, they benefit from the tenders, and commissions and dividends that they receive.
On Friday, we will demand for the Government to firmly stand in the way of the major polluters instead of just placing the blame on the people who use wood heating systems. It’s true that wood heating systems, together with car emissions and coal power plants contribute to the pollution.
We need to refocus ourselves towards utilizing renewable sources of energy, solar heating and electric public transport. We are aware that this is an ambitious project, but there is no alternative. The wealthiest people, those who own the factories, need to be the ones who start the change.
How does climate change affect pollution?
This is an interesting question, especially since logic dictates that it’s the other way around-pollution affects climate change. Climate change is a result of long-term exposure of the atmosphere to CO2. CO2 absorbs the sun rays reflected from the surface of the Earth and raises the temperature on the ground. In a couple of decades this could lead to the collapse of our society.
But, when you pose the question in this manner, we can dig even deeper. How will this collapse manifest? Here are a couple of examples. If the melting of the ice caps causes sea levels to rise to the extent that they flood the coal cities, tens of millions of refugees will try to evacuate these areas. They will head inland in their cars and cause massive pollution on the way.
Or, hurricanes caused by climate change would destroy cities and a lot of fuel would be needed for them to be rebuilt. Alternatively, a drought could cause a war for resources, which would completely transform the face of the earth.
You see now why pollution would become insignificant compared to the other issues it could bring on. It could cause a fatal chain of event. The best solution is a global transformation of the socioeconomic model.
How aware are the people of climate change and its impact on our lives?
This is our biggest challenge. The majority of the population sees climate change as a distant and abstract issue that does not affect their everyday life. Why should they worry about the future, when their present is equally bleak?
Additionally, it’s hard to imagine that such a slow process, that cannot be perceived by the senses could result in an apocalypse. We take our civilization for granted so any discourse hinting at its destruction seems highly unrealistic.
But, our time is running out. If we don’t take global action, the life expectancy of people born in the new millennia will drop. However, if we get discouraged, we’ll never be able to stand united in solving this issue. And we simply don’t have another choice.
Why is the situation worsening instead of improving with each passing year?
The situation keeps worsening because nothing is being done to improve it. We need to transform the system instead of keeping it on life support. However, the wealthy are adamant in their beliefs. One of the reasons is their stupidity and ignorance.
World leaders like Donald Trump don’t believe there is cause for intervention in spite of the piles of scientific evidence that prove otherwise. Another reason is the lack of basic moral principles. There are people who have an immense amount of power and are not interested in the future. I wouldn’t call them nihilists, as they still believe in making profits by drilling for oil, investing in wars and what not.
However, these people can be easily removed from power, as they stand against 99 percent of the population. Humanity needs to wake up and only together we can achieve our common goal, which is survival. This won’t be a simple task, but Fridays for Future is proof that there is hope to avoid extinction.
What measures should the country take in order to decrease air pollution?
I already mentioned the most important measures, like imposing stricter fines for factories failing to meet emission standards, swapping coal power plants with renewable sources of energy, setting up electric public transportation.
These measures aren’t new inventions; we should just try to utilize them in a broader context. It’s not that the authorities don’t know what to do, it’s that they don’t want to do it. We’re here to force them to implement these measures. Their friends in high places won’t matter one bit if they make an enemy of the entire population.
Excuses like the fact that we’re a small country that can’t make a different are all lies. We are Europe’s environmental black hole and we must work harder than the rest. No one can help us, if we don’t help ourselves first.
What are some individual measures that people can take?
There is a false perception that if we all implement positive measures in our lives, like ride bikes more often, eat less meat, etc., that we can solve this issue on our own. This is a misconception.
Our society is too big for such an issue to be resolved without implementing systematic changes, organized by the authorities. This will only happen if the public puts enough pressure on the leaders to implement these changes.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take some individual measures, it’s just that these only help to clear our conscience so we can continue to refuse to face reality. The only way we can make a real difference is if we continually pressure leaders to implement better solutions. That’s why it’s highly important that people are informed and join our movement.
Tr. by Monika Mihajlovska