The journey to the U.S. by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish advocate of taking action against climate change, has been widely covered by the major news media. In addition to being a leading actor in the youth climate activists’ movement, Ms. Thunberg evidently delights in catching the attention of people by making startling comments. She told an interviewer in New York City that the smell she encountered there was “indescribable,” much to the delight of her local audience.
Sweden has not been the only country to produce youthful climate activists. A group of four young Tahitian men recently publicized the importance of combating climate change in their island, and they too used an effective gimmick to help them gain notice. They pushed a wheelbarrow for four days around the perimeter of Tahiti as a way of symbolizing the natural plenty of their island. Two of the major news services in French Polynesia covered the event.
According to a report in Tahiti Infos, the point of the wheelbarrow was their hope that people along the way would fill it with local foods as they took their walk around the island, symbolizing the abundance of their country. They hoped to demonstrate that since they have such plentiful amounts of food, Tahitians didn’t need to use highly polluting oil to bring in more from overseas. Their wheelbarrow gimmick should show the people a way to contribute to a less polluted atmosphere.
Heimanu, one of the four men, said about the climate crisis (in the wording of the Google translation) “We must act now, right now. It is necessary that the politicians, the governments have to register this, [we] have no more choice.” Antoine, another member of the group, added that the role of the politicians should be to protect the people, especially since the situation is so urgent.
Jason, another member, had taken the same walk back in February. That time around, though without the wheelbarrow, he had proclaimed the same message about climate change. Jason admitted that he had not planned their adventure back in February very well. He and a colleague had gotten lost on the first day out. Darkness had overtaken them without lights and they had to contend with stray dogs, cars that did not see them, and similar mis-adventures.
So this time around he had prepared a detailed itinerary, starting with a 5:00 AM departure from Papeete on Friday, September 13, pushing the wheelbarrow over a 114 km. course for the next four days. They had planned to stay the nights in Taravao, Papara, and Punaauia as they circled the island and returned to the cathedral in the city at 12:00 PM on Monday the 16th. And this time, all four hikers would have headlamps with spare bulbs.
Another reporter found the intrepid walkers at the end of the afternoon on the third day of their journey in Paea, accompanied by some members of an organization called Rainbow Ohana. Jason told that reporter that the walkers were quite satisfied by the turnout they had experienced so far. “People were waiting for us at the edge [of] the road, they helped us a lot. All around the island, people honked and they encouraged us.” They got lots of food donated into their wheelbarrow.
The four activists invited everyone to join them on the last few kilometers into the Papeete cathedral. They also invited their fellow Tahitians to join them at a march for nature and the climate in the city the following Saturday, September 21.
“Polynesia will be strongly impacted by climate change in the coming years,” according to the organizers of the big rally on Saturday. “On September 21, at the same time as the rest of the world, Polynesians will demonstrate their willingness to prepare for these changes by declaring [a] state of emergency climate.”