Climate change is not going anywhere anytime soon. As the infamous IPCC report explains, we only have until 2030 until our current lifestyles deplete natural resources and create irreversible damages to the Earth in terms of emissions and exploitation. But rather than simply giving up because of these looming statistics, there is still hope.
Change-makers and activists around the world are demanding more from politicians and governing bodies, organizing large-scaled strikes and protests publicly. The best part of this movement is that it is being led by the younger generation.
Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish activist, is one of the faces of this climate change revolution. Last year, at a mere 15 years of age, Thunberg stopped going to school until Sweden’s general election started drawing attention to the climate crisis. That year, Sweden experienced the hottest summer it has had over the past two centuries, creating heat-waves and wildfires across the country. So every day for two weeks, Thunberg sat in a quiet protest outside the parliament building in central Stockholm, handing out pamphlets with the rather crude, but accurate text saying “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” She explains that there is little point of going to school when the planet might not exist any longer.
Within months, Thunberg has turned heads of the top politicians from the World Economic Forum to the UN Secretary General at the global climate summit in Poland. Her message is simple: “change is coming, whether they like it or not. The real power belongs with the people.”
And she’s right. Change is coming. It seems like the climate change alarm is being heard loud and clear by young people all across the world. Thousands of Belgian youth marched on the EU capital of Brussels. On March 15th, an estimated 1.4 million students in 123 countries skipped school to march in their streets, demanding attention for this global crisis. And as Thunberg rightfully said that day “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice.”
We have a lot to learn from today’s young people. Across the world, we are seeing groups being organized to protest against the lack of climate policies, including the Sunrise Movement and the Peoples Climate Movement. And with this comes innovation in activism. The #TrashTag project was started by Steven Reinhold after a receipt flew out of his car accidentally during a camping trip and he felt incredibly guilty about it. Since then, he has vowed to pick up 100 pieces of garbage, encouraging his peers to do so as well. What started off as a small personal endeavour turned into a viral trend. #TrashTag ended up gaining traction globally, as people across the world cleaned up their local parks and neighbourhoods, taking before-and-after pictures to show their impact.
And it’s not just about the newest hashtags. Young people demand more environmental standards from the companies they purchase from, with research indicating that 90% of them will buy from a brand whose social and environmental practices they trust.
Young people are telling us, loud and clear, that now is the time to act, now is the time to be concerned, now is the time to band together and create change. They do not let their age hold them back nor do they let large governmental bodies (or adults in general) shut them down. They realize that the power is with the people and that it is time to take control of our future, instead of sitting by passively. It’s time for a youth takeover and frankly, we could not be more grateful and amazed by their resilience and power. Here’s to elevating our youth and taking control of our future.
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