I’m sitting at a restaurant in Circular Quay with one of my friends. As usual our conversation has turned to animated talk about climate anxiety.
“Why would you have kids?” she yells.
Truly, it seems impossible to make any decisions about the future without factoring in the reality of climate change. Frankly it’s ridiculous that at 21, the most significant determining factor in my future is not money, education or work, it's climate change.
And that’s why I woke up this morning with the same feeling that I used to have on the morning of a big test in high school. I had to force myself to eat breakfast and then force myself not to throw up from nerves. On the train to work I scrolled obsessively through Twitter, watching as protestors uploaded photos of the signs they’ll be taking to the climate strike today. I read pieces written by school principals in support of the students who’ll be skipping class and am avidly following the protest coverage. In many ways today’s climate strike is the biggest test of our generation. If we pass, maybe we can save the planet. If we fail, we really are doomed.
In many ways today’s climate strike is the biggest test of our generation. If we pass, maybe we can save the planet. If we fail, we really are doomed.
As the coverage started rolling in this morning I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry tears of rage because of the political inaction around climate change. I wanted to cry tears of pride because these kids have more gumption than I ever did as a teenager. I wanted to cry tears of sorrow for all the hopes and dreams of my generation that will never see the light of day because climate change is so terrifying. I wanted to cry tears of gratitude for the continued resistance of Indigenous peoples around the world who care for our environment with such love and connection. I wanted to cry tears of frustration for the researchers who try every day to warn us about the effects of climate change.
It’s horrifying that in the face of all the scientific evidence for the threat that climate change poses there are still adults telling kids to stay in school today. Their justification ranges from the predictable – “stay in school and learn” – to the downright ridiculous, “polar bears are increasing in number”.
Frankly it’s ridiculous that at 21, the most significant determining factor in my future is not money, education or work, it's climate change.
Missing a day of school never drastically affected my grades in high school and it won’t affect the kids striking today. These kids are switched on enough to understand that the planet is under threat. I’m pretty confident that they’re also switched on enough to catch up on a day of class. The climate strike is exactly the kind of disruption we need to shake political inaction and apathy around this urgent global crisis.
Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg became the face of the climate revolution after she began a one-girl school strike last year. Her call to action encouraging other students to join her has seen protest action take place around the world. The first global climate strike in March this year saw dozens of Australian protests in conjunction with international events. Today’s strikes are expected to pull even bigger crowds with thousands of businesses declaring their support for the student protestors.
The massive groundswell of student support for the climate strike gives me hope. One of my friends messaged me ahead of the strike this morning saying, “I won’t be at the strike myself but goddamn I’m proud of the school babies fighting for our future”. I couldn’t agree more.
Zoe Victoria is a Macquarie University journalism student and an SBS Media Mentorship mentee. You can follow Zoe on Twitter @Zoe_V.