by Mikaela Gantz
On Tuesday, January 17 climate activist Greta Thunberg was attending a sit-in in protest against coal mine expansion in Lützerath, Germany. A video taken by a Reuters journalist made it seem as though Thunberg was arrested, though this is not true. She was detained for a short time by German police while they got her identification. Some believe that this “arrest” was staged because a photo circulated with Thunberg smiling while being detained by two officers. The full video, available on the Reuters website, makes it clear that it is a screen-grab from when another protestor asked Thunberg for a selfie, having just realized she was famous. Greta Thunberg is, by this point, very used to being a controversy in the media. She rose to fame in 2018 when went on strike outside of her own school to protest climate inaction.
This so-called arrest and the controversy around it is not what the media should be focusing on, however. The media attention should be on the village of Lützerath, Germany, which is about to be destroyed for this coal mine to expand. Climate change is a controversial issue, and it is a political issue in this country. In this situation, regardless of one’s thoughts about coal mines and coal power plants, a village is set to be destroyed. People’s lives are about to be uprooted.
Climate change is a huge issue, and it is only going to become more and more present in the news and in the world. As the climate warms, extreme weather is going to become more frequent and, as a result, more deadly and destructive. At this point, we are at a crossroads. Many have heard of the 1.5°F limit, or alternatively, the below 3.6°F threshold. In simple terms, this is the idea that our carbon budget is running out. We have a limited amount of time to do something, a limited amount of time to keep this planet, which we depend on, functioning in a way humans can live on it. This generation has the ability to do something incredible, something that would allow future generations to continue to flourish on Earth — but we have an incredibly limited amount of time.
For those interested in preservation or cleanups at Roanoke College, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Visit https://www.roanoke.edu/about/news/student_environment_organizations to find out more about Roanoke College Students’ involvement in the environment.