Kids care about the climate crisis
MALAIKA COLLETTE – My name is Abby Conrad and I am 16 years old. I am a grade 11 student at Adam Scott CVI, and I’ve only really become involved in activism during the past year of my life. My story is becoming more and more common in youth around the planet because many teens are starting to spread awareness about issues as well as planning and participating in school strikes. During the past few months especially, the climate crisis has become something that lingers in everyone’s mind. We all wonder if we will be able to limit the impacts and consequences of our actions, if we are truly leading up to the next mass extinction, or if the planet will even be habitable for our children and grandchildren. We should not have to worry about such a huge crisis at such a young age. Seeing as all we can do is worry about our futures, we all have no choice but to go out and strike and spread awareness.
During this past election, we had the chance to interact with the federal candidates in our riding. We were able to voice our concerns and they were able to give us insight into what each party’s policies are regarding the environment and the climate crisis. All of them shared how important youth voices are to them, so us speaking up and having an open conversation could really have an impact on our futures. Throughout our involvement and conversations with them, we could very well have had an indirect impact on policies and action plans that will be made regarding the crisis.
Youth have become involved in a way that has never happened before, which gives me a lot of hope. At first thought, there is not much hope, but when I think more deeply, I realize that my peers are stepping up for the first time which is amazing. I believe that if not all, then most of the youth population cares about the climate crisis. On the international scale, youth have achieved so much during the fight against the climate crisis, which is incredibly hopeful as well. On a local scale, my peers and I successfully advocated for the declaration of a climate emergency on September 20th in Peterborough. Joining together against a common cause as we have, means we are virtually unstoppable.
Social media has played a huge role in spreading awareness and getting more support in the fight. This is mostly the reason why I think a lot of youth have become involved. We see posts on Instagram about irreversible damages caused by the crisis. For most, those posts light fires under us, and they make us want to turn our anger and sadness into activism and change-making. We also discovered Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden. She is one of my biggest inspirations, and the same goes for most of my friends. She is so inspiring because she is our age, she has accomplished so much, and she is known worldwide. She shows us that we can accomplish anything we want, despite our age.
Another huge source of hope is people like my parents, my youth group leader, and other members of my church. They have all told me how it is my generation that has to solve this crisis. We have no choice, but based on what has taken place so far, we will be the ones to actually solve it. Older generations are able to observe the changes we have made, and they know we can achieve so much more than we think could be possible. Hearing those messages from them is incredibly inspiring, it gives me courage, and gives me even more of a reason to go out and spread my activism, whether it be taking an active role in school strikes or making adjustments in my day to day life to reduce my carbon footprint.
From September 20th – 27th, 2019, 7.6 million people around the world and 800,000 Canadians struck for the climate*. The younger generation is at the forefront of the climate crisis without question. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that there is only a 67% chance of keeping the earth from warming above 1.5. degrees celsius. The total amount of carbon left to emit will only last another eight and a half years, when the majority of the youth will be in their early to mid twenties. This is not right. The youth are the ones who care most about the climate crisis because they are the ones who will feel the drastic effects. These young adults and adolescents are far more educated about the climate emergency and what is coming their way than the older generations who are living in denial about the severity of the crisis that will affect their children and grandchildren. The youth feel that there is no other option than to act, as they are fighting for their future and have a right to live the same life as previous generations. They want to be able to enjoy all that the earth has to offer and not feel threatened by the climate.
Since the first school strike was held in August 2018 by sixteen year old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, the youth have risen and have begun to take action and spread awareness about this emergency. Thunberg’s striking and activism created the movement, Fridays For The Future, which is a youth led organization, who works together around the globe to make every effort possible to demonstrate to politicians the severity of this issue. Thunberg has expressed her wise words of concern on many political and international platforms, including; the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York, COP24 and to European world leaders, to name a few of the activists’ stops throughout the past year and a half. Thunberg has not only started a movement of change, but she has also inspired millions of youth around the world to take action and take to the streets in demand for real climate action. Speaking nothing but what is on her mind, the sixteen year old addresses world leaders in a blunt and matter of fact way to express her realistic concerns about the world and her generation’s future.
More locally, Peterborough students have not fell shy of demonstrating their concerns about the future and the desperate need for climate action by elected officials. Peterborough’s local high schools as well as adults came out in full force on both September 20th and 27th, 2019, with an approximate 1,000 people between both Fridays. Local students who have been inspired by Greta’s activism and who fear for their future sit outside of Peterborough City Council, demanding that council acknowledges the issue and begin implementing more sustainable alternatives in the city. As well as striking, local youth and adults voiced their concerns about the future and the need for a climate emergency to be declared to City Council and in the end council unanimously passed the declaration. With the city now having declared a Climate Emergency there needs to be even more pressure to act accordingly and follow through on the declaration.
The youngest generation is having to step up for the older generations who have misused the planet’s resources and caused the climate crisis the world is in today. Instead of attending school, students are striking for their future, demanding that leaders hear their voices and begin acting as if it is a crisis. Because it is. The youth are at the utmost forefront of the climate crisis and are doing everything in their power to help sustain the planet for them and for future generations.
Local Kid’s Care!
In answer to the Question. Why are you striking for the Climate?
Abby: I want a sustainable future or my kids and grandkids.
Kaia: We are the last generation to stop irreversible damage.
Kyle: I want future generations to have a planet that they can live on.
Annabelle: I want kids to be able to grow up in the same beautiful world that I did.
Malaika: My future is at risk and world leaders are ignoring the crisis.
Sarah: I have dreams and I want to be able to carry out those dreams. Not the ones that I’m pushed into.
Beth: People are dying because of this issue, maybe not here but it is still our fault, and we aren’t doing enough to stop it.
Monica: I don’t want future generations to feel the same fear I do.
Nico: I believe in the power of people. We can make this planet a better place, for me, for my children, and yours.
Dana: When your voice is silenced, you have to stand up and speak through your actions. As a youth, I often feel undermined. As though my opinions aren’t important, and my future isn’t a priority.
Tim: Because I want to make a difference so future generations have a planet to live on.
Max: Our generation’s fear shouldn’t exceed our generation. our future relies on our current action.
Sam: I want to have a future for me and the family I hope to have. Camille: I want to be able to worry about normal teenage issues, not about how much longer I have to live
Marissa: We are not the only living organisms on this planet, we need to think about the other species that are suffering from our decisions.