from the desk of Meenakshi Prabhune
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!” If you have heard these words before, you know what I am talking about. This is my favorite part of Greta Thunberg’s hard-hitting speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Sept 23rd. The clarity of thought, honesty, and bravery of this 16-year-old totally amazes me.
While Greta has a point that she should be in school and not leading an activist movement, her conviction has successfully mobilized the community to stand up against climate change. A year ago, Greta started a Climate Strike at her school on Fridays to bring about awareness around the stagnant policies despite the climate-related dangers that face us.
About a year later, on Friday, 20th September, millions of people were out on the street participating in the Climate Strike. Participation in the strike was overwhelming worldwide, as seen from the photos from different places pouring in on social media.
It is now, more than ever, that society needs to listen to scientists and start taking action on climate change. While politics and personal gains often cloud the decisions around policies, the fact that Climate Strike became a mass movement in a year, when Greta started this alone last year, offers some hope that policy makers may take her “We will be watching you” message seriously.
A second gathering that made an impact on me was even more recent but nowhere as popular. Saturday, Sept 28th was the Stempeers conference in UCSF. What is unique about this gathering is that this was organized by a nonprofit organization with about 14000 STEM professionals in it. These include post-docs, PhDs, and industry professionals, who are motivated to provide support and advice to one another as needed. The reason why Stempeers is so popular is because members can seek internal support on topics like career transitions, mental health issues, immigration problems, gender related work issues- all of which are hushed up topics in daily professional space.
They also provide a platform for writers, event organizers, illustrators, mentors, basically anyone who wants to try something new to test out and showcase their abilities. No wonder that volunteers spent hours out of their busy work life to keep this organization alive. Check out their website to know more about Stempeers; what started as a secret Facebook group is now quickly gaining wings and soaring high. If you are, or if you know, STEM professionals who would love a support group, you know where to send them!
Finally, here’s my pick of the top 3 events of the week.
1. Nerd Nite #79: Ecomimicry, Transcontinental Railroad, and Godzilla Mon 07:00 PM, Oakland
2. After Dark: Cells to Self Thu 6:00 PM, San Francisco
3. The Climate Reality Project Sat 11:00 AM, Menlo Park
Meenakshi Prabhune a.k.a. Minu
Science Writer and Journalist