Highlighting climate change in Kabul

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. We're going to go to Kabul now, but if you think this another story about the insurgency in Afghanistan, or opium, or the runoff election, well it's not. We're going to talk about a much bigger problem, on a global scale anyway. We're talking climate change. There are Afghans who are thinking about it, despite the myriad problems they face on a daily basis. Sayeed Masood is in Kabul. And he's taking part in this weekend's Big 350 campaign around the globe. Demonstrations are happening in more than 170 countries. And Sayeed Masood, I'm kind of surprised to hear that Afghanistan is actually going to be part of this demonstration.

SAYEED MASOOD: For us it is not a surprise. As you know, that our country faces many challenges, most of which need no explanation to you. But there is one crisis that looms large without much attention here in Afghanistan. This is, I think, that this is the greatest or the worse crisis, disaster, that humanity has ever faced. We will be the leaders. We will be those who will be impacted by the effects of climate change, and this is we who have to take the action and create awareness, draw the attention of the world, that youth, wherever, everywhere we're all united in one voice that we want the world leaders and the world powers to accept our demands and go with 350.

WERMAN: And just to let our listeners know what 350 means, 350 is the number that scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In other words, 350 parts per million of CO2. The planet's already reached 390. Tell us what you are actually doing for these demonstrations, Sayeed.

MASOOD: We, the youth, voluntarily have chalked a message on the side of a mountain in the range of the Hindu Kush Mountain, in a very large area, 400 meters to 20 meters. We have put there the white crushed stones, so that it could be read from even many kilometers away, a message of "Save the world from the effects of the climate change and play your parts." We have actually written that message in Pashto, [SOUNDS LIKE] "Narei wizh wolay" means save the world. We have caused this disaster and this is we who can take action.

WERMAN: Sayeed, tell me a bit about yourself. How old are you? Are you a student of environmental studies and why did you get involved in this? Why is it important to you?

MASOOD: I am 25. Actually, I'm a graduate student. I have done my bachelor in business administration from Pakistan. What I'm involved-- I'm not concerned with only environmental protection, but I'm concerned with all the issues affecting our societies and our youngsters.

WERMAN: How many other Afghans are part of your movement there?

MASOOD: Actually, right now, we have more than 60 people or partners, and this is those who are actually directly involved with us, and this can invite and can attract a large number of other youth, who are not directly involved with us, but indirectly, they are always with us.

WERMAN: Of course, staging a climate change demonstration in Kabul is a bit different from staging it elsewhere around the world. I mean, to get outside of Kabul, you need to presumably drive and a lot of people say it's not good to drive any time after 12 if you can't get back before dark. What risks did you run, just going up to this mountain outside of Kabul to stack these stones and write this message?

MASOOD: This is really the greatest problem and constraint that we had. We coordinated with the government all the campaign, and they have really helped us. This is the great thing that we actually enjoyed. The government is a good partner of us, to make it secure, safe. So hope that tomorrow, October 24, we could draw attention of lots of people and have lots of people there with us. We are keeping our finger crossed for lots of people there.

WERMAN: Sayeed Masood, an Afghan in Kabul who's taking part in this weekend's 350 campaign, demonstrations against climate change. He'll be demonstrating in Kabul. He's also the president of the Afghan Youth for Social Development and Tolerance. Thank you for your time.

MASOOD: Thank you very much. Nice talking to you.