Extract from ‘I RAN THE WORLD’ by Chris Long – published May 2020
Is that it?
As I write this Greta Thunberg, who started a school strike for climate change outside the Swedish Parliament building, is now regarded across the world as a model of determination, inspiration and positive action.
National presidents and corporate executives are lining up to be criticised by her, face-to-face. Her skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for climate) banner has now been translated into dozens of languages.
I like this girl.
The teenager’s lone protest has developed via social media into a powerful global movement challenging politicians to act.
She wants to change the world.
In 1992 at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who was only 12 at the time, demanded the same of policymakers:
“Adults you must change your ways.”
The environmental activist was called ‘the girl who silenced the world for five minutes.’
Severn has since spoken around the world about environmental issues urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind and take individual responsibility.
Like Greta, her message was angry, powerful and passionate, delivered at a time before social media.
Do you remember her?
I doubt it.
Greta wants policymakers to listen to the science and act as if their house is on fire.
Her argument has divided opinion.
Maybe because to truly beat climate change we must all try to put out the fire.
We all live in the same house for fuck’s sake!
It has been argued that Greta is part of a generation that wants a TV in every room, that spends all day and night on electronic devices, who don’t walk or ride bikes to school but prefer a bus or private car. That she is part of a generation of consumers who like trendy things, foreign holidays, the latest smart phones, gadgets and fast food made from beef, processed foods and wrapped in plastic or polystyrene containers.
Her generation is also part of the problem.
Rallying global support for any cause is an incredible challenge and we must not forget Greta is only 17.
Ask the scientists who have been trying to engage with us on climate change for years.
Ask me how difficult it was more than 30 years ago.
She has done well.
But now engaged, the call-to-action should not be to simply blame someone else for not listening to the science.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime.
Don’t waste it.
Don’t run the risk of disenfranchising as many people as you engage with organisations like Extinction Rebellion.
Instead, use your constituency of compassion wisely.
Explain to your supporters why we are all part of the problem and empower everyone to become part of the solution.
Of course force our governments and corporations to do their duty, but don’t hide behind them.
Governments are there because we elected them.
Companies exist because we buy their products.
Show all your supporters how just a few changes by every man, woman and child can help put out the fire.
All of us united, affecting the world in which we live.
Get a message to the millions with whom you now engage – we all need to listen to the science – we are all part of the problem.
We all need to change.
So, here’s an idea.
A new Sport Aid for a brave new world.
Another truly global event providing a participation platform for everyone who cares enough to affect the world in which they live.
An event that harnesses the best of 21st Century communication technology.
At its heart a Sport Aid app.
In 1986 people bought an ‘I Ran the World’ T-shirt.
This time everyone can download a special step tracker app. You’ve seen them. Fitbit, StepsApp, Pacer and others.
Let’s create one to help change the world.
This one will not only count steps it will have a special function – a meaningful purpose.
When you download the app, you’ll log on via the app and set up a profile. Add your name, birthdate, gender (however you identify) and location. This can even be determined automatically by the app/gps. You’ll select an avatar on the app and choose to take part alone or with friends or as a club, your company or any group you wish to form and then, do something very special indeed.
Every person’s avatar will carry a virtual flame from their home town and country to the doorstep of the United Nations.
The home of our policymakers.
Where people shape our lives.
People all over the world will physically take part in their local communities, accumulating steps/kilometres and progressing individual, group or team avatars along defined routes from their home towns to the UN. Every mile walked, run or cycled recorded and displayed on the app and website for the world to see.
With every step, your flame and your message getting closer to the UN.
To make a big fucking point and send a huge message to our policymakers that the world demands action now.
Each participant can run or walk as an individual or as part of a team, school, club or university, as well as a company, village, town, city or nation.
Graphics will display a plethora of statistics in real-time on the website.
Virtual flames leaving each hometown in every country of the world will be tracked as they make their way to the United Nations.
When they arrive virtual flames will become actual flames as real torches are lit each time a person, team, group, school, company, town, city, nation arrives.
A massive screen will show the names and avatars of individuals and teams and groups as they arrive in real time.
Every person, every flame, a call to action to effect change.
The first school to arrive, the first girl, the first boy. The first club, country, town, city. The permutations are endless and each statistic a real-life petition in itself.
TV can follow the events in each country with celebrities doing their bit in gyms, parks, schools, universities, wherever – endorsing the message that we can all make a difference.
I love BBC’s Children in Need, Comic Relief and Sport Relief – the latter probably spawned from Sport Aid. I am envious of the massive airtime they enjoy.
Give this project just half of that and use it for advocacy. Show billions of people how they can truly make a difference to the world in which they live.
It would be huge and more importantly, significant.
Why do it?
Because it will unite people in a common cause – everybody doing the same thing at the same time for the same reason. It will once again empower people all over the world to take control.
Make a difference.
Help change the world in which we live.
Because we must.