Posted on June 10, 2022 at 2:44 pm
The Key to Change: Youth
Climate change’s unprecedented rate will continue to ravage Earth until our home, once a haven for magnificent life and biodiversity, will no longer be recognizable. According to the Globe-Conscious, sea turtles, bees, and tigers are among the many animals facing extinction due to human activity. Coastal cities, such as Tokyo and New York, home to millions of people, could be underwater by 2100 if no change occurs. It is evident that Earth’s climate crisis has reached a point of urgency: if the status quo is maintained, our future will cease to exist. Yet, it is an often discredited and ignored group that holds the key to change in climate action: Youth.
Young people bring to the table a new perspective- a more thorough, immersive understanding of climate change and its impact. The passion that we embody for climate action fosters a strong sense of determination and perseverance that ensures continual, long-term fighting for change. The way we utilize creative, unique, and innovative solutions to argue for climate action from those in power and to inspire others makes us a force to be reckoned with.
Our experience of climate change first-hand, from each passing year being hotter than the previous to the number of animals we hear going extinct each year, separates us from any other group of people. We have grown up in climate change- we have seen its impact- we have been taught it since childhood. While other generations may not have learned about climate change until adulthood, we have been educated our entire lives. I have been told first-hand by staff for government officials that our voice, youth's voice, is extremely valued by senators and representatives because we provide a new insight into climate change not found in any other generation. As youth, we must acknowledge our power and use our education, our understanding, and our privilege to advocate for change from those in power.
Youth's understanding of climate change facilitates a passion and devotion to the Earth- one that stands the testament of time and outside influence. Our determination and unwillingness to surrender forces officials to cave and pass environmentally-sustainable legislation. Events such as the Delaware YES! summit, led by youth and attended by hundreds of students, showcases our dedication to the environment. This past year, I took part in a lobbying effort for carbon dividends with Delaware Senators Carper and Coons that was attended mainly by youth, and we have made inroads in creating support for carbon-dividends from our state senators. I have seen youth sacrifice time,
money, and other essentials just to attend rallies for climate legislation. All in all, it is our unending perseverance and demand for change, fueled by our education and understanding, that allows us to keep fighting for change.
Arguably the most important, it is youth’s ability to capitalize on new and innovative solutions to garner support for change that separates us from other generations. In particular, we have utilized social media as an outlet to hold government officials accountable and to inspire a sense of climate stewardship in millions around the world. TikTok accounts, such as "Genzforchange," update people about climate change and hold decision makers accountable for their actions. Their influence has even spread to COP26, where TikTok educators were given the stand to address and encourage legislation for climate change. Others have used their platforms to spread and encourage participation for rallies and other ways people can get involved in climate action. Even in our own community, youth have employed the Internet to demand legislation: students at my own school have written op-eds holding officials accountable and arguing for change. Social media highlights climate change on a massive scale- anyone from anywhere can view information about the environment. Now, it is not only one person calling out a state official, but the entire world. It is not only one person demanding legislation, it is everyone. Unconventional solutions that unite youth from all over the world show those in power that we are not alone, we are unified and willing to fight for change.
Youth have a unique role in climate action because of our understanding, passion, and ability for innovative solutions, yet the message I want to stress is something different. I want to stress that we are the future. We will inherit the Earth, and its future is entirely up to us. It is our future that is at stake, it is our future that has been hurt and disregarded by previous generations, and it is our future that we must safekeep by acting and using our unique role to demand accountability and environmentally-sustainable legislation.