This post was written by Sam Harrison of Kids for Climate Action as part of Check Your Head’s Actualizing Change program
In November of 2010, my sister and I started a group called Kids for Climate Action. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a group of teenage kids trying to get action on climate change. My parents study the politics of climate change; it’s kind of always been dinner table conversation for us.
At the time, we knew essentially nothing about activism or organizing for political change. One day, my sister Sophie decided she wanted to organize a youth rally for climate action. After about a month of furious organizing and contacting, the day finally came. About thirty five or forty people showed up. It’s fair to say it was not the huge success we were hoping for. But we didn’t give up, we pushed forward.
In the two years since then, we have organized four climate change themed flashed mobs, multiple petitions, and this year we had our second ride for our future. 45 people biked 70 kilometers to Vitoria to deliver a petition. We arrived at the legislature, we were greeted by Ida Chong and Rob Fleming; they agreed to present in the assembly on our behalf. We were on CTV and CBC in their primetime news broadcasts, something seen by many many of thousands of people.
One of the most common questions I get is “why are you doing this?!” I suppose the answer is I’m scared. We’re living on a new planet now, one that is significantly warmer. A planet where glaciers melt, sea levels rise, oceans acidify, and crippling drought causes millions to starve. The world our parents’ generation handed down to us is not really a pretty one. I’m scared because this is only the beginning.
I’ve learned that youth have a super power. Why? Since developed society came about, people have always made it their goal to pass on a positive legacy. And we’ve been doing a pretty good job. But, when you live in society with a with non-sustainable resource based economy, never ending growth doesn’t quite work. We’re in no way opposed to growth; we’re merely opposed to growth that’s in the wrong direction. As we become more and more dependent and needy, increasing our capacity for resource depletion seems foolish. We’re the ones inheriting this new planet we live on.
As far as I know, it’s not actually a weird thing to want to hand down a world that functions even remotely like it once did. I’m not a foreign funded radical environmentalist, I am a sixteen year old child who is scared that someday, when I have kids and they ask me “what the hell were you guys thinking?!” I won’t be able to come up with a good answer other than “we weren’t.” The radicals here are the ones who think that it’s a good idea to change the chemical composition of our atmosphere that has kept it stable since the ice age. One of my personal heroes, Bill McKibben phrased it nicely: “This is the single biggest thing humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our moment to stop it.”
Check us out at www.kidsforclimateaction.ca