This blog post is part of the ‘Jean Monnet Chair of European Media Governance and Integration Series’ headed by Jean Monnet Chair of European Media Governance & Integration Prof. Katharine Sarikakis, and curated by Wagner Piassaroli Mantovaneli und Markos Mpadanes.
Reading this, I’m sure that you have already heard about something called “Climate change”. But the word “change” might be an euphemism: It’s a crisis, not a change. We have to call climate crisis as it is, we have to raise awareness. We have to start a social discourse about it and its urgency. But mostly, we have to declare climate emergency.
In Europe, the political environment has changed a lot in terms of the last election on May 26th. Social democrats and catholic democrats both have lost about a sixth of their seats, while right-wing populists have gained 21 seats and EU-critics 13 seats. In France the right wing party of Marine Le Pen has even succeeded over the current reigning party, led by Manuel Macron – but the green parties have also gained large amounts of seats.
Yes, there currently are many discussions about Europe’s politics. Its politicians are discussing about a regulated economy, politics, freedom and peace and also working against discrimination and sexism.
These topic’s importance is undeniable. But right now, the topic that should be the most discussed one is environmental destruction and climate crisis – as Greta Thunberg said.
But how could it be? We, the public, rarely hear politicians talking about the urgency of this topic. All we hear about are ongoing restrictions, new inventions and like this, we get the impression that the politicians, the world leaders, have everything under control.
But they don’t. Leading politicians, like Christian Lindner, write public statements about, how global matters should be left to experts and that the children, who are school striking for climate, can’t be expected to understand global connections and what’s economically possible to solve the crisis. With one thing he is right, we can’t be expected to understand everything. But we surely can understand what an emergency looks like, and how to solve it, if we’d be told that it exists. Why else would millions of pupils take the streets to make people listen? Instead of joining them, political parties like the AFD in Germany write posts about “how school strikes are against the law” – but countries illegally breaking the Parisian contract about climate change is not mentioned once.
Climate crisis only being discussed in a way that tells kids to be quiet and go back to school when they try to make people gain an awareness for it, doesn’t help the matter.
If there was such a big crisis, wouldn’t politicians alarm the public? Wouldn’t it be written in every newspaper, shown on every channel, that our world is dying?
And focusing on national matters, instead of trying to be a unified front against the biggest natural threat the world has ever faced, is dangerous for life on earth.
Europe’s politic should focus on attempting to reduce plastic waste, enabling international discussion and raising awareness about the ecological problem we are facing. Some countries may not yet have their focus on reducing CO2-emission and waste, because of other issues more regularly addressed in their local media – and this is where Europe and its ability to set rules and restrictions for multiple countries and companies at once, steps in. Being able to rule many countries at once, millions of people at once, Europe is an indispensable institution.
Without the help of every single country, every single region, every single person, we will not be able to secure life on earth as we know it. Many people are still not aware of the urgency of this matter – so how could they possibly help?
Glaciers retreating, a tripled ice mass loss in Antarctica during the last decade, ocean acidification and their warming – as well as the rise of global temperature. These are facts that simply cannot be ignored anymore and they effect every being living on earth.
We have to bring awareness to our need for a united Europe, especially when considering the ongoing climate crisis.
We have to bring awareness to the people.
But if natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, melting of the polar caps, rising sea levels worsen, there might be no need for a solution to other political, economic and social problems anymore, as drastic as this may sound. If restrictions across borders can hinder or even only slow down the current extinction rate of 200 species per day, then so be it.
But politicians can’t solve a crisis as big as the climate crisis on their own. They need the public, they need us. But at first, they need to talk to us, without filter, without trying to make it sound less dangerous than it is. Climate crisis and the ecological breakdown are life-threatening, and we have to start to act like they are.
For more informatiton about the reasons why we need Europe, consider reading: 60 good reasons for the EU, written by the Directorate General for Communication – it’s available in 21 languages.
Thomas Greven (2016): The Rise of Richt-wing Populism in Europe and the United States. A Comparative Perspective. Friedrich Elbert Stiftung. Washington.
Online aufrufbar unter: https://www.fesdc.org/fileadmin/user_upload/publications/RightwingPopulism.pdf (aufgerufen am 21.05.2019)
Jonathan Polk, Jan Rovny (2017): Anti-Elite/Establishment Rhetoric and Party Positioning on European Integration. Political Science Review. 2:356. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41111-017-0068-9
Online aufrufbar unter: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41111-017-0068-9
Greta Thunberg (2019): Instagram-Post vom 11.05.2019 online aufrufbar unter: https://www.instagram.com/gretathunberg/?hl=de
Parlament der Republik Österreich: Grundwerte der EU.
Online aufrufbar: https://www.parlament.gv.at/PERK/PE/EU/GrundwerteEU/index.shtml (Aufgerufen am 12.5.2019)UN-Environment programme – John Vlda (2011): UN Environment Programme: 200 Species Extinct Every Day, Unlike Anything Since Dinosaurs Disappeared 65 Million Years Ago; Huffington Post. (aufgerufen am 12.5.2019)
Online aufrufbar: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/un-environment-programme_n_684562?guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAE2fkm520D-NBGqNKtGCzTU2ZVZXQioDtv-v4ZSkdYjCyPF–Yx60gbGJE893a1JYFOqL9WWU7a6q0JZPf0g-3O-G3F5Ga18kHiCIgZroxR9bpCqAISk4wksL3qACyL9Oe7VuexzdYHfTpLrU1eVVM5X3o80pFTJrQ3r6HIk_stj&guccounter=2