Climate Change: It Can’t Wait

Whether you lean left or right politically, it is hard to deny the scientific facts proving the planet is actively suffering the effects of climate change and global warming. 

From severe or unpredictable weather patterns to melting glaciers in Greenland and Alaska, the world is in major trouble. Scientists believe people only have 12 years left to slow down global warming before the effects worsen.

Students may feel unable to do anything about their dissatisfaction with the current political stance on climate change, but current youth presence in the media  is contradicting a lack of action. On Sept. 20, students around the world skipped school to attend over 4,000 separate events to demand environmental action. Students have taken initiative and begun to address the current climate crisis by asking the government to reduce carbon emissions and devise a plan to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius of global heating. Beyond this temperature, the current effects go from bad to terrifying. 

I’ve recently been inspired to become increasingly involved in the climate conversation due to 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. The teenager has become a prominent leader in the movement to educate people on climate change. Thurnberg has created major political statements like sailing 13 days across the Atlantic Ocean in a zero-emission boat to avoid greenhouse gasses planes emit. She gave a passionate speech Sept. 23, addressing government officials at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit. 

“This is all wrong,” Thunberg said in the speech. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you.” The powerful nature of the activist’s words expectantly shocked listeners but more importantly, pushed influential leaders to acknowledge her message of urgency. The speech is what really made me emotionally connected to the issues of climate change. The environmental crisis is more serious than people realize and in the future and, in the future, it will become a life or death situation. 

 After Thurnberg vocalized her demand for change, a panel of 15 other young activists filed a legal complaint against five separate countries for violating the rights of a child by not taking proper measures to control global warming. This gives me hope for the future. It is inspiring to see teenagers standing at the front lines and influencing not only their peers, but adults as well. 

The main goal of such efforts is to demand the attention of national representatives to facilitate the reform of climate policies. A solution to the threat of global warming has been the promotion of the Green New Deal, which is a congressional resolution proposed February 2019 to eventually stop the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. and establish a more sustainable clean energy industry.

I think at this point, every decision society makes is vital to ease the effects of the climate crisis. Everyone should be pressuring powerful officials to take action. This is especially important now since the 2020 elections are getting closer by the day. A candidate’s response to the expansive amount of strikes that recently took place reflects heavily on that person’s electability. That being said, age is irrelevant when it comes to making change; go research, protest, get on social media and connect with other activists. Join a strike and vote in the next election if possible. No one is ever too young to be heard or make a difference. Our voices are more important now than ever. It is our generation’s responsibility to recognize the state of our environment; we are going to inhabit this planet long after any current political leader. We are the next generation of voters, so strong knowledge on issues like climate change is of immense importance.