A global youth inspired climate justice movement has gathered great momentum lately, culminating with Swedish Greta Thunberg arriving in New York to raise awareness about the need for action in response to climate change.
Determined, she planned her trip so that she’d leave the least Carbon footprint en route by sailing across the Atlantic instead of flying. Greta rose to fame for starting Friday school strikes outside the Swedish parliament, insisting her elected officials start treating the climate crisis as if their house were on fire.
Her call for action isn’t too hard to grasp, with world forests from Alaska to Brazil burning this summer at rates faster than ever before.
Her determination birthed the Fridays for Future movement. On Friday, Aug. 30, I took the train into New York City to accompany my daughter and her friend to sit with Greta and youth activists outside the United Nations.
Greta didn’t seem interested in being considered the star of this gathering but rather showed up as one of many, an active participant standing shoulder to shoulder with others to insist on change. She empowered the voices of local, inspiring youth leaders, including Xiye Bastida, who spoke with fierce determination stating: “We can not live in a world that is burning, that is melting.”
Together, youth are calling for a change in existing power structures in order to deal with climate change.
At the end of this climate demonstration, I was engaged in conversation with a 350.org PR person (wearing a t-shirt #exxonknew) only to be interrupted by my Long Island girl tugging on my shirt sleeve begging me to visit the American Girl store. I assured her we don’t need another doll, one is enough. Next time you shop, ask yourself, do I really need more of this? Every purchase leaves a carbon footprint.
As a middle-class suburban mom I do my best to limit impulse buys, encourage my kids to only get what we need, we drive a hybrid, we compost, and our home is solar-powered. We donate monthly to reforesting the tropics and spend most of our free time volunteering with Rewild Long Island to restore natural habitats in suburban landscapes.
Yet, as individuals, there is only so much we can do. With leaders such as Brazil’s Bolsonaro weakening indigenous rights and protections for the environment in order to free up more land for cattle, soy, and other commodities, and Trump’s rollback on regulations on methane gas emissions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by nonsense.
Thankfully, youth are rising and ready to speak sense to non-sense.
I attend climate strikes, rallies and marches with the aim to contribute to the collective shift in cultural consciousness. It feels encouraging to be surrounded by those who are like-minded and there is strength in numbers. If you’re still reading, then you probably care as well, and I want you to know there are many of us. Join us at noon on Friday, Sept. 20 at Foley Square, 1 Federal Plaza in New York City for a Global Climate Strike.
Youth are begging for us to “act on the science,” to “give us back our future.” We need to demand change from fossil fuel-driven economy to renewables, Now!
We must demand real leadership and accountability from our elected officials as we move from an extractive economy towards a regenerative economy.
Scientists warn that we have just a few years to transform our economy. To implement the large scale changes necessary, we need elected officials to take their hands out of the pockets of oil and gas billionaires and change the course of action.
The technology is in place and the plans towards a sustainable future have been written; all it takes is the willingness to change existing structures. This September, millions of us will walk out on “business as usual” to join young climate strikers on the streets and demand systems change from a fossil fuel-based economy to renewables.
The science is clear. For decades scientists have predicted what’s happening today. I’m not interested in debating whether or not humans caused climate change; what’s much more important is how we respond to the consequences of a warming climate. Sea levels are rising, and so are we!
What are you doing to embrace the changes ahead and help reimagine society so that we may meet the changing tide with renewable energy and optimism?
Are you fired up yet? Will you walk with us towards a sustainable future? #FridaysForFuture #strikewithus https://strikewithus.org/nyc/