KARACHI: A session on climate change awareness started day two of the first Pakistan Learning Festival organised by Idara-i-Talee­m-o-Aagahi (ITA) and Children’s Literature Festi­val (CLF), being held simultaneously in Karachi and Lahore physically as well as online.

Author, artist and teacher Rumana Husain joined online from abroad to host a session in collaboration with Children’s Museum for Pea­ce and Human Rights (CMPHR) on Tuesday morning.

She was joined in Karachi by Azra Raza and Rashida Khan of CMPHR to talk about climate change.

“We are not talking about winter, spring, summer or autumn here. Those changes in weather are a usual occurrence. What we are talking about is another more serious kind of climate change,” she said before introducing teenage environment activist Greta Thunberg and her book of speeches No One is Too Small to Make a Difference.

Almost instantly, young viewers watching the session from all over the country got the message that they too can work towards the betterment of the planet. She told them how Greta never travels anywhere by aeroplane to do her bit in reducing greenhouse gases, and how she has convinced others including her parents, too, to do the same.

Rashida Khan made a presentation about mother earth and how we are hurting nature through our own actions. “In our want for more and more in the name of demand and supply, we are eating up our own resources and polluting our environment. As populations grew, consumption grew. We cut more trees that cleaned the air, we built machines which needed en­ergy and fuel, fossil fuels beca­me important, and humans got the idea that they can conquer nature,” she said.

“They no longer thought themselves to be dependent on nature. They started using up more of the earth’s resources faster. Instead of living in harmony, they started exploiting nature, which has introduced our generation to aspects such as climate change, global warming, the greenhouse effect, etc, which are turning against humanity now and become worse and worse if we don’t do anything about it,” she explained.

Azra Raza spoke about how humans can now responsibly take part in reversing the damage done already. She spoke about the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agree­ment that are steps in the right direction. “Read, learn, spread the message,” she encouraged her young viewers. She told them how environmental activism can spread awareness as well as encourage others to heal mother earth.

The other sessions inclu­ded more storytelling sessions by children’s writer Amra Alam, Bi Jaan (senior actor Azra Mansoor), Nusser Sayeed, book launches, sin­ger Khalid Anum encouraged children to read through song, interactive and open mic sessions along with another very interesting session on libraries.

Senior journalist, columnist and advocate of developing the reading habit among the young, Zubeida Mustafa, said that children should be introduced to libraries. “It is good that we find many children taking interest in reading these days. But now some children read so fast and after finishing all their books they insist that their parents buy them more. That’s where lib­raries come in because bo­oks are expensive,” she said.

The fes­­t­ival concludes on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2021

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