About a month ago, my fellow columnist Ken Allred voiced his opinion in regard to students protesting climate change. Specifically, he noted, "The issue was apparently initiated three months ago by a Swedish teenager by the name of Greta Thunberg." Greta Thunberg is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who addressed the UN with confidence and bravery.
Allred claimed protest was not the best use of student time and stated, “... they would be better advised to take the day to research both sides of the issue and pose a debate between the opposite viewpoints and learn more about the issue.”
This take is incredibly condescending, suggesting young activists are naïve and ill-informed.
The reality is, our young people have more access to information than any generation before them. They have grown up in a world ravaged by violence and destruction and are arming themselves by organizing. They are a shining example of the power of democracy and information.
I was particularly struck by a letter to the editor written by 12-year-old Eva Newton. She argued: “If skipping class is not the best choice, in your view, but researching is, I must say you are missing the whole point of protesting. Youth, such as myself, have taken into our own hands to let our voices be heard about this global threat. We are doing this because adults are not doing enough.”
Not unlike anti-gun legislation in the United States, young people are the paramount population at risk for violence, as they are the paramount population put at risk by climate change. And yet, those in power are far more concerned with financial gain than the safety of their young people.
Having researched the issue thoroughly, I simply do not understand resistance from members of the older generation to a movement in which the positive outcomes far outweigh the negative.
Allred quoted Heraclitus of Ephesus: “The only thing that is constant is change.” Indeed, change is constant, and we can no longer rely on the outdated means of energy and resource our world has grown so dependent upon. We must change with the times and invest in renewable energy sources, which are an economic opportunity for our city, province and country.
My household has taken the opportunity to reduce our ecological footprint by investing in solar energy. By doing so, our home acts as a micro-generating site, saving us a great deal of money on our energy bills. This is just one example of a fight against climate change that we can all take part in on a micro level.
Ultimately, our ecosystems are sensitive, and our actions have consequences. If we can make small changes that make a difference, why shouldn’t we?
Climate change in an issue deeply connected to many other global human rights issues. By protesting, students are making it known to those in power that they will not sit idly by while their world is destroyed by those condescending enough to believe they are ill-informed children.
Greta Thunberg, Eva Newton and many other young people are creating hope for a better future.
Activism works. So act.
Jennifer Hamilton is a local student and writer.