Welcome to our Series „Humans of Climate Action“. This series is dedicated to uplifting non-European climate activists.
This interview is with Atlas, from Istanbul, Turkey.
Atlas is active at FridaysForFuture.
You can read the German transaltion of this interview here.
1) Can you tell us something about yourself?
I am 12 years old from Istanbul, Turkey. I am an 8th grader, studying for high school entrance exams this June and it is kind of a big pressure for me. But I still keep my climate activism a priority. I feel I am one of the luck ones because my parents are supporting me 100% in what I want to do
2) Can you tell us a bit more about your personal motivation for participating in this movement?
When I heard about Greta and learned about the cause of her school strikes it devasted me. Because o 15 year old girl fighting the system to claim her future was a shock to me. When I heard about the first global climate strike, I wanted to join one in my town. Mom and I searched for a possible call for a strike but there was none. Then I waited some more until I decided to make a call. Because by that time, I knew I didn’t have the time to wait anymore. So I started an online campaign for FFF Istanbul strike at a park.
3) What is your role in the #SchoolStrikeForClimate in your country?
I had to make a strike call at the first global school strike for climate because there was none in my country. Then I became the organizer of the strikes ever since.
4) What are the talents and abilities you provide for a better world?
I am a dedicated striker (not willingly however out of conscience) so I visit cities in order to inform young people of the climate crisis so this way I am able to gather strikers for climate. I can also say I am good at social relations so I connect with politicans to let them know we are here to change the system. I get support from them as well.
5) What is the movement like in your country?
We are quite spread out in different cities. About 7-8 cities participate in global strikes with us and I think it is quite a success especially when striking is a frightening action in my country, especially in our parent’s point of view. Our 20 September strike was a big success. There were about 4500 people marching with us. We are hoping to double that number on March 3rd.
6) What do you love about your region?
Istanbul is situated both in Asia and Europe making it a special place on Earth. My parents say the face of the city has changed a lot in the last two decades due to over-population. The city is 18milllion people and this is really way too much. But still there is the Bosphorus making it a unique place. A big strait cutting through the city. The history is also one of the ancient ones which makes it a landmark of the country. There is so much culture carved into the city.
7) What is the most serious environmental problem in your region? Are your government, the society or big environmental organizations working on solutions for this problem or is the problem just getting bigger without anyone changing anything?
We are witnessing cyclones that never happened in the Southern parts of Turkey that is taking lives. Also drought is a big problem in the Anatolian part of Turkey where used to be the kand of agriculture. We are depended on import for produce at the moment which means we cannot really feed ourselves because of climate crisis. There is also Syrian refugees which I believe is because of the same crisis.
8) What was the most successful action you participated in or heard about to protect the environment?
And the last few years our government has a project to make a canal parallel to the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul which will cause Istanbul to the brink of environmental breakdown. It will make Istanbul literally and island and cost 75 billion USD just to build it. The results will be catastrophic. You may see the map below how it will look.
9) What’s your vision for our planet, our nature and us humans in 2050. Do you think, it’s realistic?
Governments need to support the transition towards a sustainable, zero-carbon future and to guide strategies to manage climate-related risks. Otherwise if governments do not understand the urgency and do not keep the fossil fuels in the ground, we will be having disasters one after the other in 2050. I am not very comfortable with the way it is at the moment.