A Voice for the World: Perspectives on #GlobalClimateStrike
The Cramm: You may or may not have heard of our super awesome Editorial Team member, Kyndall Tenace. She's 18 and she's from Los Angeles, CA. And she's, you know, awesome. After the Global Climate Strike a couple weeks ago, Kyndall wanted to interview multiple young people who participated in walk-outs all over the world. Below, find the (crazy inspiring) result!
Kyndall Tenace: Temperatures rise as excess greenhouse gases accumulate in the air, slowly suffocating Mother Earth. Weakened, she can do nothing more than fall slowly to the floor burning beneath her.
Crying for her future, she sheds tears that raise tides. A blotchy red face is buried in wounded hands that have been stepped on by 7.7 billion carbon footprints.
Mother Earth cannot speak, so silently she screams in anger at the actions of her inhabitants that have caused her accelerating disposition.
Silently, she screams for the loss of a past environmental existence where coral was vibrant and icebergs were frozen.
Silently, she screams so loud that those who were meant to hear her suffering have now become tone deaf to the sounds of chainsaws destroying wildlife habitats, one by one.
All the while, Mother Earth cannot speak- but on September 20, 2019 over 4 million people became her voice at the #GlobalClimateStrike.
- - - - - - - - - -
In an ode to the seven continents being affected by climate change, we asked seven questions to young climate activists on their experiences at the #GlobalClimateStrike, specific perspectives, and how they are quite literally saving the world.
KT: What inspired you to participate in the Global Climate Strike?
Guy, 21 years old / Strike Location: Cape Town, South Africa
I am an active environmental as well as animal rights activist and I feel that we are on the precipice of either successful change or irreversible catastrophe, and it’s up to us to decide which way we fall. The world is finely balancing between a world that knows peace, love and harmony with Earth and all beings on it opposed to a world of oppression, climate injustice, inequality and death by the masses. There is no more time to waste. It is time for the masses to come together and stand up to their right to LIFE. Not attending strikes and being complacent indicates that you are taking the side of the oppressor, and in this case solidifying your own destruction and the destruction of those you love. It is up to each and every one of us to take a stand and change the system, as well as inspire others to do so.
Linshan, 23 years old / Strike Location: Hong Lim Park, Singapore
The sheer fact that a lot of these climate protests are being driven by youths my age — or much younger, like Greta — speaks for itself, I think. Our generation feels strongly for the planet we live on, perhaps because we are the ones who will be directly affected in 50-60 years. I can't even imagine what our earth will be like then. Why should we wait until we get to that point of no return before we start to fear the consequences of our actions? I'm inspired to participate in the Global Climate Strike because it's time that our nation wakes up to the sobering reality of how disastrous climate change is. I wanted to be another voice urging our government to take action, and take action NOW.
It really didn't help that in the last 2 weeks, Singapore had been affected by such a bad bout of haze that was contributed by our Indonesian neighbour, whose frequent slash-and-burn deforestation practices have led to alarming PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) rates. The air literally gets too toxic for us to even breathe.
KT: Did you make a sign? What did it say?
Pamela, 21 years old / Strike Location: New York, USA
I made a shirt, as I needed both of my hands to take pictures. It said, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.” It’s an African proverb.
Nichole, 18 years old / San Francisco, USA
Yes, my sign said “Love your mother,” with an illustration of the earth, as well as a picture of singer Kacey Musgraves inside of it. Since we usually personify the earth as a woman with great feminine energy, I wanted to connect it to a female artist, who I feel, is very empowering.
KT: What is one way you have witnessed climate change in your area?
Renée, 15 years old / Strike Location: Bath, England
Where I live, they are trying to do an airport expansion [Bristol] and we are trying to stop it because the pollution is really bad. There is a city in the middle of the countryside [ex. Cotswolds], and we are seeing now that the city is spreading out, and more and more of the country is disappearing. Before, you could be just driving and see fields, even when I was little. Whereas now everything is build on and there’s not as many trees, there’s more pollution in the air, and it's affecting people’s health in the cities. We just want to get back to nature and how it is and get our species numbers back up.
Natalie, 16 years old / Strike Location: New York City, USA
(notably, Natalie is a National Strike Organizing/Core NYC Strike Team Member for #GlobalClimateStrike and spoke at the United Nations on September 23, 2019)
Something that is really pertinent that we try to focus on as an organization is [preventing the] erasure of black and brown voices and the idea of environmental racism in general. For example, there are factory waste disposals placed strategically in black and brown communities instead of being placed in rich communities that don't have large populations of minorities. This is something that we actively try to combat because this should not be happening and as an organization it’s really important for us to see what we can do to uplift those in front line communities, which includes having people from frontline communities be represented on our team.
KT: Do you feel it is important for youth leaders, such as Greta Thunberg, to have a bigger voice in political issues such as climate change? Why or why not?
Pamela: I believe it is extremely important for us to have a bigger voice in political issues, as our leaders have failed for a long time to take action on climate change. It is our future and climate change won’t wait for them to profit some more.
Renée: I’m definitely [in support of] the move for votes at 16 and we need the representation as a whole because I think people don’t think we understand what's going on in the world, but we really do. I’ve seen seven year olds that protest, screaming and missing school against what their parents are saying because that's where their passionate. I think it’s our future and I should be able to choose when I’m older what type of world I’m going to live in, because we are aware and we do understand. That’s why we’re acting. I think that us young people should have a bigger voice in politics. Obviously, we’re not allowed to vote at a young age but we’re still striking we’re still protesting and no one is going to stop us from being heard.
KT: Describe your specific experience at the #GlobalClimateStrike and how it affected you, either positively or negatively.
Linshan: Before attending the climate rally, I have always felt a tinge of eco-anxiety about the state of our world. I also always felt alone in my struggle with the environment. Some questions I never found an answer for: why are we producing so much for our economy, and why are we producing so much meat for consumers? Why is it that nobody seems to think this is an important issue? The event was an important point in my eco-consciousness journey. I felt extremely at home with a crowd of over 2000 people who joined hands asking for the same thing: climate action from the Singapore government. While I had previously struggled alone, I now know that there are others like me who care deeply about the environment and about effecting change in our community. It's also really beautiful that the Global Climate Strike and Singapore Climate Rally were ground-up initiatives that gained so much traction because the people organizing them were so passionate about it. We can get through this as a nation, as a community, because we are in it together. It also got me to start thinking about the smaller ways I can effect change in my inner circle. If Greta can galvanise the WORLD, what can't we do?
Nichole: My experience at the Global Climate Strike was both exhilarating and eye-opening; I didn’t have an idea of how much of our youth cared about our earth until I walked in the strike. I initially met up with a small group at my school (San Francisco State University). We hopped on the bus towards San Francisco Federal Building, where the strike began. At every stop, I began to see more and more students hop onto the bus. Soon it was packed with signs and kids ready to march. The excitement of it all didn’t hit me until I saw the crowd waiting to fill the streets. There were so many of us--all out there sharing the same ambition to make our voices heard. The whole scene was inspiring and almost unreal to me. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life and to be quite literally in the middle of it, was life-changing.
KT: What is one step, big or small, you personally feel would help make a difference in preventing climate change?
Guy: I think the animal agriculture industry is the most pressing matter we need to look at. Our sources of energy as well as transport system needs to change too. Overall, it is society’s perception on Mother Earth which needs to be changed. They need to wake up and realize the harmonious relationship which Mother Earth offers, that which we are dismantling, poisoning and destroying...and in so doing it to ourselves. We come from Mother Earth and we will return to her. We do not own her as we are of her.
KT: Fill in the blank.
“I participated in the #GlobalClimateStrike because. . .”
Guy: . . .the time for change is now. We don’t have any time to waste. We need to step up against the system that has led us to where we are and fight it in order to achieve a better world and future for all.
Linshan: . . . we only have one shot at protecting our planet.
Pamela: . . . I want a just future for everyone. Climate justice is social justice.
Nichole: . . . I want a future for myself and for future generations to come.
Renée: . . . I’m absolutely terrified at the future that we could face, and I know that if we don’t act millions will die and that really scares me. I can’t sit by and let that happen, so I strike because I want to save our planet, save our species, and save the future generations to come and create a nice world for them to live in.
Natalie: . . . there are voices that need to be uplifted and stories that need to be told, and I believe they did a very good job selecting speakers and participants who would do that.