I checked Facebook on my way home from class yesterday and was immediately hit with a clip of Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN today. Please take a moment to watch if you haven’t yet. I promise with my whole heart that these four minutes are worth it.
As I waited for the subway to arrive at my station, I began to tear up. And then, throughout my commute, I just sat and thought.
How is it fair that a school-aged young person is at the UN right now, explaining mass extinction to people who are supposed to be the leaders of our countries? How is it fair that the fate is in my hands, that people my age are the ones who lie awake at night worrying about the future while the more-than-wealthy CEOs of lucrative corporations sleep soundly? These people somehow thought it’d be okay to essentially toss the earth into the trash, and now the youth of the world have been left to rummage through the landfills they’ve created to try and dig up our last bit of hope for survival. How is any of this acceptable?
There have been some national and international responses. But they’re not enough. Take Canada, for example. This past June, over the span of one week, our government banned single use plastics, declared a climate emergency, and then turned around and closed the deal on a massive pipeline expansion. Yes, not a satire article. Though, there was one published on The Beaverton.
I am terrified. And I don’t know another person my age who is not. Indeed, the best way to know how upsetting something is to young people is to check social media and see how much it’s been joked about. And are there ever a whole lot of climate change memes and tweets. There are jokes about dropping out of college because we have all lost a justification for such an investment based on the way things are headed. More seriously, however, I cannot go through my Instagram explore page without stumbling across at least ten photos of starving polar bears or trash-covered beaches.
But we now have hope. Greta Thunberg has sparked an irreversible movement. Hundreds of thousands of people have decided, over and over, to skip school or work and take to the streets instead. People who have never attended protests are holding poster-painting parties, gathering their friends, and screaming “climate justice now” like their lives depend on it...because their lives do. This Friday, tens of thousands of people in Montreal will do the same, and we’re also really excited because Greta’s going to be in attendance for it.
I’ve spoken before about how individual actions are not enough. I am incredibly passionate about Ethigirl and its mission; however, I am deeply aware that it’s not the answer. We need policy, we need grassroots projects, we need resistance, and we need justice now for the people who have already suffered the dire consequences of climate change that will be hitting us down the road. Such as those who live in The Bahamas and must now put their lives back together after Hurricane Dorian. Or the residents of Tuvalu, an island nation that is sinking at this very moment. Or Indigenous peoples who live on land which was traditionally and is rightfully theirs across Turtle Island, and face a host of dire consequences.
So, this Friday, I’m striking on the streets of Montreal, Quebec. Because even though it shouldn’t be up to me and to my fellow ~ youths ~ clearly it is. Because, for now, those memes are correct: there *is* no point to going to school when our futures are being stolen from us by the very second. But us youths, through our anger of what is unjust, will change things, collectively, or (actually quite literally) die trying.
As Greta said so powerfully today: you stole our future for the sake of financial gain. HOW DARE YOU.
We’re coming for you, and there’s nothing you can do about it anymore.