Why The Earthshot Prize is the Dunkirk of our Generation

The Earthshot Prize, the call for ideas to realign our current climate trajectory announced earlier this week by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough, is a call-to-action of unprecedented potential.

It has been a year since over six million people gathered in protest around the globe to voice our collective anger against the inaction and ineptitude of those in charge to address climate change. But at the end of the day, after we went home, after we binned our handwritten banners, after we posted our photos to social media and collected our likes, what happened next? Demand for others to take action, without our own coordinated collective action, means that no matter how loud our voice, it will be limited in range.

While it is crucial that we call out short-sided politicians and the corrupt corporations pulling their strings to send the message that what they have done will no longer be tolerated; while it is crucial for us to come together to voice our anger, to realize that together we have a voice; it is even more crucial for us to continue to move forward in coordinated collective action. We must move forward in any capacity we can, and we must move forward bravely, resolutely, and with consistency.

On May 26, 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued a call to action to anyone with a boat to cross the Channel to Northern France to save as many stranded soldiers as they could fit. It was a Hail-Mary pass to save what was left of the besieged Allied Forces stranded in Northern France. Crossing the Channel repetitively over the space of 8 days, this collective effort of navy and civilians evacuated 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops. The operation later was dubbed The Miracle of Dunkirk.

Reporting for the 1941 Britannica Book of the Year, retired U.S. Army officer George Fielding Eliot wrote:

No purely military study of the major aspects of the war could do justice to the skill and the heroism of the evacuation from Dunkirk. Suffice it to say only that, when it began, members of the British imperial general staff doubted that 25% of the B.E.F. could be saved. When it was completed, some 330,000 French and British troops, together with some Belgian and Dutch forces who refused to surrender, had reached haven in England.

…One of the most motley fleets of history—ships, transports, merchantmen, fishing boats, pleasure craft—took men off from the very few ports left, from the open beaches themselves, for German air attacks had virtually destroyed most port facilities.

From: https://www.britannica.com/event/Dunkirk-evacuation/The-miracle-of-Dunkirk

This coordinated collective effort, this extraordinary feat against all odds, accomplished the very thing people thought could not be done. Looking back eighty years later, it reminds us still what is possible by ordinary people choosing to make a difference.

Right now, our situation might seem hopeless, and the fight might seem endless. Perhaps we will not live to see the results of our actions. But by tapping into the unlimited potential of the idea, into the ingenuity and creativity of the human mind and spirit, the Earthshot Prize is a reminder that not only is there a light in the dark, it is that we ourselves hold that light.

If you haven’t seen it already, Attenborough’s new film A life On Our Planet is a film each of us must see. The link to the trailer is below:


For more information on how to submit your ideas to combat climate change to The Earthshot Prize, go to http://earthshotprize.org.

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