Twelve years. In twelve years, the window for saving our world will close, according to the IPCC (a UN-based group dedicated to providing accurate, scientific, information about our climate’s rapid decline). In twelve years, if we do nothing, the average temperature of Earth’s climate will raise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) — the repercussions of which will be catastrophic.
Since November 2016, when the Paris Climate Accords were signed, the country has been tuned to the issue of our worsening climate more than ever. In fact, as New York Magazine put it, the signing in Paris “[initiated] what seemed, for a brief moment, like the beginning of a planet-saving movement.” But in the years since, scientists, including the IPCC, have realized that the measures initiated won’t be enough to save us.
In fact, after 2040, there won’t be much hope left. On November 23, 2018, also known as Black Friday, the IPCC released the Fourth National Climate Assessment. Putting together our extensive use of natural resources and rapid technological advances, many scientists and social activists agree that it is time for desperate measures.
Humans must reduce our carbon pollution by 40 percent in the next twelve years. It has been determined by the UN that the carbon emissions we put forth must drop to zero.
If that sounds scary, that’s because it is, says an article in the New York Magazine about how this is a “Climate Genocide.” This goal is not only terrifying because of its daunting nature, but also because of who the responsibility lands on — our generation.
Gen Z is at the center of attention right now. An article from BBC asked their older readers about their impressions of our generations, quoting one person referring to Gen Z as “too cautious and yet downright dangerous, too worried about the world and at the same time too self-absorbed to care.” They call us lazy. They call us self-obsessed. They call us technology dependent. Their claims do nothing to address the fact that we are the ones who have to clean up the messes of left by those who came before— and we are already working towards finding a way out of this grim looking future.
This current generation is armed with something that others didn’t truly utilize: strong ambitions and technological platforms that we are using, ones that provide ways to reach out to people across the world by creating collaborative movements.
Through protests, signs stating that “There is no plan(et) B,” and “think before you drink” (the slogan for a campaign against plastic water bottles), and new, unique initiatives, we are taking that internet platform and using it in a way no one has before.
A new initiative called Zero Hour is an incredible example of the work our generation is doing to make a difference. Zero hour is, as their website states, “a youth-led movement creating entry points, training, and resources for new young activists and organizers… wanting to take concrete action around climate change.”
By creating this movement of environmental activists and solution-based research, Zero Hour shows the great strides our generation has made in an effort to reduce climate pollution and rising temperatures. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” says thisiszerohour.com, the official website for all things Zero Hour. Our generation has realized that this is it— unless we start to make a change in how we deal with the declining environment, no one will step up. It’s up to us.
This idea also occurred to Greta Thumburg, a Swedish 15-year old environmental activist who is breaking the internet. Making incredible stands against the government’s lack of focus on this enormous issue, Thumburg not only is gaining popularity in Sweden but all over the world. Protests she has done include her “Skolstrejk Fór Klimatet,“ or “School Strike for Climate,” a month-long strike where she spent school hours Monday through Friday in front of the Swedish Parliament.
This strike continues to this day, Thumburg spending her Fridays on the steps with a packed lunch and her backpack by her side. Not only does she continue to hold her strike every week, but people from around the world have joined in. Every Saturday morning Thumburd posts pictures of people’s strikes from around the world including photos from places like Dublin, Germany, Russia, New York and even Pasadena, CA.
Her actions have encouraged thousands of others, bringing attention to issues often overlooked. After gaining attention from politicians and activists, Thumburg was finally rewarded for all she has sacrificed for this cause.
The young girl was nominated for the Children’s Climate Prize award for 2018, but declined the nomination and opting to stay in Sweden in a protest against the past generation’s abuse of the limited carbon budget that is being stressed by excessive airline travel.
She was asked to speak at the Global Climate Change Conference on December 8th, which led to her inspiring and brutally honest speech going viral, being retweeted by environmental accounts, activists and even Bernie Sanders. She focused her speech on the trouble that adults have created for the climate and how their actions have impacted the younger generation, saying: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.” Thumburg is just one more example of how we are creating a new movement that is effectively changing the world as we know it.
Looking at the work our generation is doing, it is clear that without young, involved and dedicated youth, we will have little hope. Every one of us has to make an effort— because the news we are receiving isn’t a death sentence, it is an opportunity. An opportunity to do better. An opportunity to use our power and our voice to change the course of history. An opportunity to save the world.