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Young Thais Battle Seniority Culture for Urgent Action on Climate Change

The fact that Lilly and I can do this draws a lot from being in international schools

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FILE - Environmental activists participate in a Global Climate Strike near the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment office in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

When Nanticha “Lynn” Ocharoenchai organized Thailand’s first climate strike in March, more than half of the 50 people who showed up at the rally in Bangkok were students at international schools and expatriates. Thais.

The same day, Ralyn “Lilly” Satidtanasarn, then age 11, and a group of fellow pupils submitted an open letter to the prime minister, calling for urgent action on climate change.

“The fact that Lilly and I can do this draws a lot from being in international schools,” said Lynn, 21.

There they received classes on the environment, whereas most Thai state schools do not teach the subject, Lynn noted in an interview a week after graduating from Chulalongkorn University.

Thais, Battle, Seniority
FILE – Environmental activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden addresses the Climate Action Summit at the U.N. General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2019. VOA

The young pair are often said to be Thailand’s version of Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish activist who has inspired other children worldwide to skip school and demonstrate in the streets about the need to halt global warming and its impacts.

Lynn’s mission is to boost awareness among the Thai public about climate change in a country that is witnessing warmer temperatures, sea level rise, floods and droughts.

Its capital, Bangkok, built on the floodplains of the Chao Phraya River, is expected to be among the urban areas hit hardest as the climate heats up.

Nearly 40% of Bangkok may be inundated each year as soon as 2030 because of more extreme rainfall, according to the World Bank.

Also Read- Chuck Schumer Proposes $454 Billion Plan to Help Shift away from Gasoline-Powered Cars to Cleaner Vehicles

But Lynn said that while many Thais are directly experiencing the growing effects of climate change, some Asian social norms made it hard for her to achieve her aims.

“In Asia, we have a culture of seniority, and young people aren’t supposed to speak up for themselves and are not supposed to speak against adults,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a Bangkok coffee shop.

Local link lacking 

Lynn’s interest in climate change was sparked through writing articles on the environment as a journalism intern.

Thais, Battle, Seniority
The same day, Ralyn “Lilly” Satidtanasarn, then age 11, and a group of fellow pupils submitted an open letter to the prime minister, calling for urgent action on climate change. Pixabay

In March, she read about Thunberg, which prompted her to create a Facebook event for a climate strike in Bangkok.

“I could truly relate to her frustration and depression, and just feelings of hopelessness,” said Lynn.

“For years I cried in my bedroom, and I’m sad and I’m just, like, no one’s going to do anything about it. But I figured if Greta can do it … I can probably do something too,” she said.

Since she set up the Facebook page “Climate Strike Thailand,” it has attracted almost 5,000 followers.

Also Read- Pledges for International Fund to Help Poor Nations Tackle Climate Change Reach about $10 Billion

“Initially I had no idea about Thai social media and how to deal with Thai culture and Thai people and changing their mindset, but since March I’ve learned so much,” she said.

Tara Buakamsri, Thailand director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said young people in provinces outside Bangkok have long campaigned on environmental issues affecting their hometowns, such as opposing gold mines or coal-fired power plants.

But there has been no networking platform to link them with groups in the capital, and Climate Strike Thailand has yet to spread beyond middle-class and international school students, he added.

“While the recent climate strikes are connected to climate change issues [at] the international level, they have yet to connect on the local level,” said Buakamsri.

‘Just the beginning’ 

Since the first March strike, Lynn has led two more, in May and September.

For the third, about 200 young people marched to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, demanding that the government declare a climate emergency and shift to 100% renewable energy by 2040.

In 2015, Thailand signed the Paris climate agreement and pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% to 25% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

But new coal-fired power plants have since been promoted both in Thailand and neighboring countries, which activists say contradicts climate change goals.

“These climate strikes are by no means methods to solve the problem,” Lynn said. “It’s just the beginning where you acknowledge the problem.”

Lilly, meanwhile, now 12, has been meeting with business and government officials, urging them to care more about the environment.

Her persistence over the last two years has paid off, and she is widely credited for a pledge by more than 40 national retailers to ban plastic bags by next year.

“I see no progress made by the government,” she told journalists recently. “I only see progress made by Lynn and me.” (VOA)

Next Story

What do Superheroes and Entrepreneurs Have In Common?

If you haven’t thought about superheroes and entrepreneurs to be much alike, you should start giving both of them more credit.

Every one of us can be considered a superhero in their own surroundings

Entrepreneurs’ lives are nothing short of an arduous battle. Starting a business and facing everyday challenges sometimes feels like constant combat, because the way to success doesn’t come overnight. Just as superheroes fight crime and have their daily struggles with various villains, entrepreneurs need to tap into their superpowers of knowledge and experience to accomplish what they’ve envisioned. However, there are a few more similarities between the two.  

Success doesn’t come overnight

Computer, Business
With every business expenditure, comes new adventures, and the journey never really ends.

Superheroes weren’t taught to control their powers, but they had to figure out for themselves how to put them to good use. After trying to fly and falling numerous times, they eventually mastered the skill, which allowed them to start saving the world on a daily basis. The same goes for entrepreneurs. They don’t expect real success to happen overnight. They know that it yields profit only after many sleepless nights, hard work and incessant effort. Only after they go through various training programs and learning, do they get to see what the business is all about.

They need rescuing from time to time too

People in great danger are always the ones who need superheroes the most. Putting out fires, jumping into a burning building, and fighting criminals is what they’re accustomed to, but sometimes they need to be rescued as well. Not just physically but emotionally. Superheroes doubt themselves more often than not and struggle the reality of not being able to tell about their powers to other people, which is often overwhelming. That’s when a conversation to a loved one helps immensely.

Even though they have superpowers, they still need the biggest power of all – love – to keep them going. When it comes to entrepreneurs, their superpower of making the business thrive comes at a certain price. They tend to become lonely, exhausted and even lose their motivation sometimes. That’s when their family jumps in, to save the day. Behind every successful entrepreneur, there’s an army of loved ones having their back. Whether it’s a spouse, a sibling or a child, entrepreneurs have their own saviours who remind them why they’re good at what they do.

Physical strength and endurance

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We’re all fighting our battles day in, day out.

Working around the clock requires plenty of physical and mental strength, which is another common denominator for superheroes and entrepreneurs. While superheroes couldn’t fight the crime without their muscle strength, entrepreneurs need it to survive one hard-working day after another. Moreover, it’s the best fuel for their workouts, as carbs represent the source of immediate energy for their entire body. It also helps them stay confident and believe in themselves, which is why it’s essential that both of them have enough carbohydrates in their nutrition, to overcome all the challenges that the new days brings along. The number of carbohydrates a person consumes during the day will determine how much work they’ll be able to do, and how long a workout they’ll be able to engage in. Namely, carbohydrates fuel our workout routine, so it’s essential that your pre-workout meal contains at least 50g of carbs.

Battling against villains

Every superhero fights their arch nemesis in order to show how fearless and powerful they are. Villains are there to make heroes’ lives turbulent and try to ruin everything good, which is similar to how business “villains” operate. While building their empires, entrepreneurs face a series of dents in their ventures. Whether it’s a competition, or economic downtime, employees or maybe a partner, it’s entrepreneur’s greatest villain sometimes. They’re constantly battling their internal and external demons, making mistakes from time to time, which is just as challenging as superheroes fighting the bad guys. However, at the end of the day, both of the villains’ help shape superheroes and entrepreneurs to be what they were meant to become and to work even harder the next day, learning from their own mistakes and setbacks.

Functioning well in a group

Behind every successful entrepreneur, there’s an army of loved ones having their back.

While Batman, Superman and the Flash all fought bad guys on their own, it wasn’t until they were all united together with Aquaman, the Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter that they really saved the world. The point is that even though they were all amazing fighters on their own, they became truly successful after forming the Justice League. The more diverse powers, along with the strength in numbers gave them the ultimate advantage against the evil. The same goes for the world of entrepreneurs. Teamwork is a business’s best friend and the strongest suit. Two heads are much better than one, which is why joining groups can form a strong support system for many entrepreneurs.  

The battles can be never-ending

A series of comic books written and superhero movies filmed only suggests that the battle with the evil never ceases. When it comes to entrepreneurs, they keep saying that the challenges are ongoing as well. The larger the number of challenges, the greater the need for learning. This is precisely why each milestone reached breeds higher expectations, only to set a new goal for every following victory. With every business expenditure, comes new adventures, and the journey never really ends.  

Also Read: Indian Entrepreneurs Build Mobile Apps To Help Patients With Diabetes

Final thoughts

If you haven’t thought about superheroes and entrepreneurs to be much alike, you should start giving both of them more credit. We’re all fighting our battles day in, day out, and every one of us can be considered a superhero in their own surroundings because no matter how small our combats may seem, it’s still the one thing that makes us better people at the end of the day.