The Kids Climate Strike, Choosing Optimism and Change

There is no perfect way to go about any change. Years ago, I felt the most comfort in taking small actions on my own, then talking to my kids, then acting with them. We continued the talking. Like sweet nectarines needing peeling then devouring. Skin by skin floating from our fingertips to the wooden floor, woven in-between sentences they understand. There’s another nectarine. And another. As they get older, I realize that the bowl of sweetness is sometimes sour, and I’d rather not share it with them. Until you realize you may not waste. And the peeling continues.

This is how important conversations work for us. There is confidence, comfort, frustration, and of course optimism. And when it comes to the Climate Crisis, as it comes with anything we face and navigate these days, the route of optimism may seem futile. But I beg to differ. And while I won’t sell my kids a perfectly wrapped world, I won’t sell them one without hope and change either. They deserve this, as I once did. So we took action on Friday. Along with composting, recycling, taking part in our community, keeping a keen awareness of our single use plastic, refusing plastic bags, straws, and meat most days of the week (for them) and completely, for me. I take action knowing that the course is full of environmental racism, ignorance and inaction from others too. Monday afternoon, my daughter read notes to her 3rd grade class, opening up the floor on how and why our community can help fix these things, though the strike itself wasn’t part of their instruction to go or relay.

I’ve learned much from my kids. But most of all, I’ve learned it is never too late to change. And never too early for optimism. And the societal and community burden falls on us all.

Here are a few film (and digital) photos of the rally and a transcript of Gret Thunberg’s speech today.

“My message is that we’ll be watching you.

This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! 

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. 

So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.

To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons. 

How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.

There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. 

We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not. Thank you.”

And Autumn Peltier willl be speaking to the United Nations General Assembely next week. Here’s what she plans to say (via The Conscious Kid):

“I will be emphasizing on our direct connection to the land and water. I will share an Indigenous perspective how our people are caretakers of the land and waters and how everything is connected and depending on clean water. I will share knowledge of why we as Anishinaabe people are so protective of our waters and that we come from a place where we are surrounded by the freshest water in the world and it’s at risk of being contaminated.

One day, I will be an ancestor and I want to leave a legacy for my great-grandchildren so they know I worked hard to ensure they have a future. We need to protect the water today, because the longer we wait, the sicker the plants and animals get. If we wait until tomorrow or the next day, the water won’t be the same as that day – in one month or one year, the water gets more and more contaminated. Water is the blood of Mother Earth, everything is connected.

Nothing can live without water, if we don’t act now there will come a time when we will be fighting for those last barrels of water, once that’s gone we can’t eat or drink money or oil. Then what will you do?”

Greta’s transcript via NPR. Photos 1 and 15 belong to Anja and Erin.

One thought on “The Kids Climate Strike, Choosing Optimism and Change

  • Reply Grace October 2, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Really great images, this post is full of so much hope. I have been talking with my therapist about wanting to have children someday but feeling scared of both the world they would be born into and the environmental impact of more people. But she reminds me that it is important for people who care about saving the planet and making drastic social equality changes to have kids (if they want them!) so that the next generation is raised to be aware and can take action from a young age. I’m sure there must be such a tension between wanting to teach your children the truth and wanting to protect them from fear!

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