Children are usually asked who they want to be when they grow up and they usually answer with doctor, nurse, astronaut, teacher, or even president. It is because of the innate purity of heart that comes with their youth. Nevertheless, in this day and age, it’s hard to answer that question if a child’s life is at stake because of the impending effects of climate change brought by man-made damage to the environment.
Many bush fires and forest fires around the world continue to burn, including the Amazon Forest. Sea levels are rising at an alarming rate in island nations. Europe experienced its most intense heat wave ever in June. These are just among the few physical signs of rapid climate change. However, the conversation on a global scale still has not convinced most world leaders and corporate giants of the harmful effects of climate change around the world, refusing to look at hard evidence in front of them. This is causing alarm among our young people.
Who will inherit the world?
It is common knowledge that in 40 to 50 years, many adults of today will no longer exist, and the present-day youth will inherit the world. How adults live their lives now will influence the future of the world. The air our youth will breathe, the food they will eat, the land they will walk, and the water they will drink are subject to severe danger because of how people live their lives now.
People like to believe that children are the hope of society. But if they will inherit a world that is far from redemption because of insidious climate change denial, students can’t help but be filled with anxiety as to how the world will become in the future when they are finally living their assumed role in society.
Adults are easy to dismiss the issue of climate change, and one possible reason is that it will not directly affect them. Climate change has long-term effects, and everything experienced now are Fingerprints and Harbingers, according to the United Nations’ IPCC 2001 report. Fingerprints are the indicators of global warming and they have been observed in history as heat waves, sea-level rise, and the melting of poles. Harbingers are events that foreshadow impacts of global warming like spreading of disease, earlier spring arrival, coral reef bleaching, heavier downpours, droughts, and fires. It seems as if adults only hope they won’t live long enough to suffer the overall consequences. Furthermore, their indifference is causing more harm than good.
Children are alarmed. As students, they learn about climate change and how fast it is affecting the world. Climate change is manifesting at a faster rate than before. Students cannot be blamed for their fear and concern over their future. Students have taken it upon themselves to speak louder and call out their leaders for immediate action.
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist, is just one of many students who are fearlessly leading the charge to protest against inaction towards climate change by governments around the world. Students face the reality that their future and the entire human race are under threat. Of course, there is a personal responsibility to reverse the effects of climate change, but calls for a systematic action should be louder.
Thunberg went to the USA riding a zero-emissions boat because she refuses to further contribute to the excessive carbon footprint being released into the atmosphere. Individual people can easily change their behavior, but a more extensive impact and more sustainable change should begin with leaders and those on top of the societal pyramid.
Students are doing everything in their power to secure their future and their place in this world. If they inherit this world, there is a responsibility to leave it to them without worries about whether or not they can live through it or they have to be cautious about their existence due to global warming and greenhouse gases. They are calling for that responsibility to be stapled into society now – to have legislation and actions in place to care for the Earth and avoid drastic climate change as evidence persists to show.
What is being done to combat climate change?
Greta Thunberg recently delivered a speech at the United Nation’s 2019 Climate Change Summit – the mere reason why she sailed to the United States. She conceded that she should be back in her country attending classes in her school. But she believes she is being forced to speak up about climate change because there is more focus towards “money and fairy tale endings of eternal economic growth” rather than reducing carbon emissions. Her anger and anguish towards the blatant disregard by world leaders around the world towards climate change are sparking more and more interests towards the issue.
Thunberg continues to ask people to wake up from their dreams and imaginations of a better world. She didn’t mince her words. She has built a platform solely from her passion for overturning climate change. She cited science, facts, and the reality about the world’s current projection, which is heading to dangerous, hot fields.
According to the United Nations, climate change is now 18 months away from becoming irreversible. The United Nation’s 2018 IPCC special report suggests limiting global warming to a certain degree would have drastic changes in all aspects of society. There are legal instruments in place to help keep climate change and global warming at bay, like the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
Some countries are having are a hard time committing to their part in combating climate change. Australia is among many countries that have several students protesting for action. The country is refusing to let go of its coal mines in exchange for renewable energy because of how long they have depended on coal for power. British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has criticized Australia because of this, saying the Australian government’s support for new coal mines showed how careless they are about the environment. Australia is a part of the Paris Agreement, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists Australia will meet its climate accord targets.
In the US, the Green New Deal is being endorsed as a gamechanger as it aims to address climate change and economic inequality. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among the bill’s popular supporters. Ocasio-Cortez is taking the battle against climate change into the US political stage. She called out her colleagues for labeling climate change as an elitist issue, further saying that science shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
Should students be allowed to protest against climate change inaction?
There is no denying the contribution students have towards the climate change conversation has caused controversy. They chose to skip school to call for action to fight global warming and climate change. There are actions in place, but the fundamental solutions needed are still nowhere to be found.
People are clapping and applauding activists like Greta Thunberg when they speak out and share their messages of concern about climate change. We can look at Thunberg in awe, give her a Nobel Peace Prize, but that would not provide a solution to the climate change problem. Thunberg, like many other students, is driven by the depressing reality that there may be no future for them in this world. They don’t need praises or criticism because they only bound together to fight a common enemy: climate change. And they are encouraging people to wake up and join their fight. Their protests and outcry are neither juvenile nor petty. It’s a real problem that the world has to face head-on.
When we look at our kids, we see hope. And the hope is that they create a future that is kind to them. However, that is no longer their sole responsibility anymore. A good parent would want the best for their children. We want these children to have a good education, all they need in life, and a stable future. How can they look forward to the future when they keep seeing signs of the Earth dying at every corner?
Children are refusing to act passively towards climate change. One day of absence from school won’t altogether have harmful effects on their academic standing, but a day to call for action will resonate through generations.
The least we can do is bring change upon ourselves, and allow our students to participate in protests until they can finally breathe a sigh of relief because they know they have done enough to alter the future. At the end of the day, we played a part in what the world will be for our future generation. Now is no longer the time to sit in silence. When we ask our children what they want to be when they grow up, let there be a sense of security in the question that the world will still be alive and well when we leave it.
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