An important message from our youth

Lindsey Schwalm, Contributing Writer

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Students from across the globe are coming together to protest the single most important issue of our time: climate change. Children as young as nine years old are skipping school to grab the attention of both policymakers and the general public alike. Their demands are clear: the government should declare a “climate emergency.” The public should be informed about the seriousness of the problem, the school curriculum should include information about the climate crisis, and the age of voting should be decreased to 16, so they can have a say in the policy that will make or break their future.

 

The Youth 4 Climate Change rallies started in Sweden when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg started skipping school every Friday to sit in front of a Swedish Parliament building. Her acts of courage and defiance have sparked a wave of protests across the world, with students skipping school to protest and holding rallies of thousands to wake their governments up. There have been demonstrations across Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and France – pulling numbers of up to 40,000 participants.

 

There has been much criticism toward the school kids from many adults including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who says that they should not be wasting precious learning time. However, Thunberg clapped back to the criticism profoundly, saying, “British PM says that the children on school strike are ‘wasting lesson time.’  That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 years of inaction. And that is slightly worse.” Despite missing lessons in the classroom, these students are some of the most brilliant individuals and are willing to take immediate action on what they are learning about the climate crisis.

 

By the time these kids are old enough to be policymakers, predictions have shown the earth will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature increase will trigger more intense droughts, disappearing coastlines, and massive migrations to the areas that are tolerable and fertile. Many might think that this change is something that humanity can handle. However, a four-year study of 7,800 marine species around the world’s ecosystems also concluded that there will be fishless oceans by 2048 if we continue to overfish and reduce the biodiversity of the ocean. This reduces a large food source for an ever-growing population. These students’ concerns are real and clearly justified by the problem that we have on hand. If action is not taken now, the consequences will be drastic.

 

Not only are these youth defiant, but they are widely educated about a problem that will overwhelm the younger generations. These students have also called out the neglect of our policymakers to take this issue seriously, which needs to be done. Critics of the Youth 4 Climate Change group are right in noting that students should be in school instead of protesting, but the previous generations before them did not afford them that luxury. By the time they are adults, it will be too late to reverse the catastrophic damage to our planet. The time for action is now. Are you listening?

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