We will never forgive you.
Those words have been ringing in my ears since I heard them. On Monday, September 23rd, Greta Thunberg delivered a scathing speech to the UN in which she held us (adults) accountable for failing to act on climate change. “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.”
Ouch. Well said Greta.
If only we had listened to Severn Suzuki when she spoke about this in 1992, silencing the UN as she spoke of children’s fears about climate change BACK THEN. 27 years later and her pleas are still (if not more) relevant than previously. Now, we have Greta and thanks to social media, we are seeing a larger army of youth raising up to fight for this movement. More kids angry, frustrated and motivated to fight for their future.
So what is taking us, as parents & adults, so long to catch up?
I don’t know about you but my teen/tween children know FAR more about the potential consequence & impacts we will experience in our future than most of my friends. They know better. They know what is coming. My Gen X generation is excited that we’re remembering to recycle and recently started using recyclable straws. Our kids are striking and trying to decide if it’s even worth bringing children into this world.
Remember those good ‘ol days?
I grew up in the generation that STARTED recognizing that we were getting into trouble. Warnings of acid rain and images of lime green waters prevailed our TV screens. Conversations about the rapidly decreasing ozone layer became common place. George W Bush and Brian Mulroney raised a lot of eyebrows & questions when they agreed to a bilateral Clean Air Plan by putting a price on acid rain pollution, reducing sulphur emissions & nitrogen oxides. BUT IT MADE A DIFFERENCE. We helped bring back the Ozone layer by banning CFC’s and actively working towards staying away from aerosols. Where are we now? Acid Rain has been reduced to almost nothing while the ozone layer has come back significantly.
We’ve done it before, we can do it again.
We are now in a time & space that has provided so much more science around the ever-lasting impacts of climate change. Our carbon emissions are significant (especially in Canada where we are one of the highest emitters per Capita) and we have committed to reduce them by 30% by 2030. Collectively we need to work together to make this happen. Individually, we need to look more acutely as to how our behaviours impact the environment while industry needs to shift their behaviour and innovate to reduce their enviro impact. Smart government policy can help us all make those changes.
In thinking of our best way to achieve this, I go back to the seat belt law coming into play when we were young. The government created a campaign for kids to tell their parents to BUCKLE UP. It was the kids who kept nagging our folks to put their seat belt on which over time became common protocol. Policy changes people’s behaviour. A tax does the same. Taxes on cigarettes reduced the amount of smokers in Canada. A 5 cent levy on plastic bags started a chain reaction of bringing recyclable bags. I get it. The carbon tax will make people think of how they pollute and change the way they drive, consume & conserve.
We knew we had to do something but…
When I think of my children’s future, the last thing I want to do is look them in the eye and say “We knew we had to do something, but we did it way too late”. I want them to have the same kind of childhood I did. I want them to be able to go play hockey on the ice, not worry about whether the weather has made it too weak to skate on. I want them to be able to breathe fresh air, not face an ever increasing cases of childhood asthma. I want them to WANT to have kids (because ultimately I hope I will be able to be a grandparent).
I want to show them that I showed up, that I had their back & actively joined the fight against climate change.
It’s time to listen to our kids.
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