A new report from the United Nations warns that we have only 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe. We already have a sense of what it could mean if we don’t: severe drought, catastrophic floods, devastating forest fires, extreme hurricanes and superstorms, and poverty and displacement for hundreds of millions of people.
Can a 12-year-old girl from Colorado do what a 42- or 52- or 62-year-old has found impossible? And that’s, stop climate change before things get so bad it will just be too late?
She sure is trying! And she’s not alone. All over the world, ‘tweens and teens are rising up to encourage policy makers, business leaders, and consumers to do more than give climate change lip service. They want it stopped, and they want it stopped NOW! Their activism will come to a head March 15, when thousands of students in at least 28 cities in the U.S. and 40 countries globally are expected to strike against climate change and for a clean energy future.
Back in Colorado, climate activist and ‘tween Haven Coleman has been using her Fridays to stake out government buildings in Denver, bolstered by posters that display the hashtags that serve as shorthand for a surging stop climate change movement: #ClimateBreakdown #ClimateStrike and #FridaysforFuture. #GreenNew Deal is there, too, signaling her support for the exciting clean energy agenda introduced in late February that demands we achieve a clean energy economy by 2029. But Haven is not only sitting on steps. When she was just 10, she addressed the Utilities Board of Colorado Springs to urge them to invest in renewable energy. She has challenged Colorado Senator Cory Gardner at a town hall meeting, offering to replace the $1.2 million dollars in campaign funding he’s received from oil and gas industries with donations she’d raise from “kids, adults, and … grassroots.” She was profiled on Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Climate Reality event. She goes by “climate activist” on her Facebook page.
She’s also helping to organize the March 15 strike, an event inspired in part by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish citizen who began protesting in front of the Swedish Parliament last August. Greta caused a sensation recently when she was invited to address the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There, the young girl in pigtails chastised an audience full of international bankers, captains of industry, and government representatives for their inaction on climate.
“Our house is on fire. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases…Either we choose to go on as a civilisation or we don’t. That is as black or white as it gets.”
Some say we should not engage in activism. Instead we should leave everything to our politicians and just vote for a change instead. But what do we do when there is no political will? What do we do when the politics needed are nowhere in sight?
The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility.
Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
“Please join us as we fight for our lives. When we will it will be our generation’s great legacy.
Our future is depressing and scary, so you want to ignore it, but don’t! It feels better to do something, anything at all towards progress than to give up.
If I can be brave you can too.” ~Haven Coleman
Photo via Climate Desk