Millions of people will join young school children on streets in cities around the world, demanding more action on climate change on Friday afternoon. Perth Glory’s Chris Harold tells us how he was inspired to take action and change his habits for the planet’s health.

By Chris Harold

I’m always very eager to talk about issues that I am passionate about, even if they’re considered different by some people.

In a football setting, that can open you to criticism, particularly if you take a different view or if you are a little bit different to the ‘expected’ norm.

I’ve always been a little different with a number of things. I listen to ‘different’ music and I’ve been outspoken about how I feel about an issue like the environment. 

But I’ve always been strong in my beliefs. And I believe more needs to be done if we are to take serious action to prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change. 

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This Friday, children and adults across the globe will come together to demand more meaningful action.

It’s somewhat unfortunate it has come to this point – but it’s also a sort of beautiful harmonising event that will bring millions of people around the world together to vocalise their collective frustrations, which is so inspiring.

To see so many share a passion for the environment and the planet gives me hope and makes me feel that more people are tuning into what is a pretty massive issue.

Friday’s event will hopefully be an opportunity for people to learn about the increasing impact climate change will have on us and on our future.

And I’m hoping it will demonstrate the power of individuals – and the collective – have in achieving change.

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Unfortunately, we are often very reluctant to change our ways.

We’re in the privileged position of living in a wealthy country that has yet to see the significant effects of climate change and especially as footballers, a lot of us live comfortable lives. So many people think ‘why change’?

Equally, many people are also either unaware or disinterested in taking action, or just the sheer scale of the problem makes people feel helpless.

It is hard because there is so much that you read that knocks the wind out of you. It is very flattening.  Not seeing a direct impact can also make us question whether we need to act.

But I think if you have the defeatist mentality then you’ve already conceded.

I try to look at the positive side of things and how change can be made firstly from a personal point of view and then how I can help others understand.

If we look at the catalyst for Friday’s event – the singular actions of a young schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, we can be amazed that her courage has inspired a global movement.

I believe that it’s getting to the point that many people are realising if they don’t act, our world will change – and change drastically.

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My interest in climate change really started probably about five years ago. 

One of my initial influences was seeing Leonardo DiCaprio speak about it and its devastating impact at the UN Summit in 2014.

At the time I was completely ignorant to a lot of issues related to climate change and how it can completely change our planet’s future – for the worst.

I think perhaps it comes from a lack of education – it’s not something that we’ve grown up with or are taught about in schools.

I don’t know whether that’s changed, but certainly school children taking action on Friday means they care a lot.

For me, it took some inspiration from a well-known figure and then from there it came down to me doing a lot of my own research, reading and discovering a lot of the facts.

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I believe in the old cliché that actions speak louder than words.

And it’s about having the courage and the confidence to know you can make an impact, no matter how small.

Simple things like getting solar panels at your house, using a recyclable coffee cup, getting a veggie garden, reducing your use of plastic might seem small. But again, if everyone does it, then the impact is huge.

If I’m doing all I can to make changes and showing people that I’m doing the right thing and it’s not that difficult, then that can hopefully change others’ habits too.

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When I talk to people about climate change and protecting the environment, I try to help inspire and educate people.

I think it’s about making it as relatable as possible to the individual so that they can realise that these issues are going to affect everyone. That’s when people more inclined to make change themselves.

I also very firmly believe that this is not about telling people what to do.

If you tell people they should be doing this or should be doing that, people don’t generally react that well.

But when these things start affecting people personally, then that’s when they start to realise that they can and should make a change.

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People don’t really expect to hear anything like this from a professional athlete.

But somebody in my position who shows an outward interest and participates in environmentalism and environmentally friendly activities can actually show that you’re not just a footballer; you are a human too.

I’m lucky because I can also use my position to share my view and hopefully touch others, even if I’m not as famous as Leonardo DiCaprio!

I’m hoping that Friday’s event inspires people enough for to read a little bit more, to show an interest, to understand our problems more, to change their habits. 

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

If Friday’s event and my words and actions open their eyes a little bit, that can sometimes be all that is needed to change the world.

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