Now is the time for climate action


Photo by Matt Eich/Patagonia

Current estimates say that we have 11 years to significantly lower carbon emissions (most say by about 40%) before slowing or stopping climate change becomes unimaginably harder. If the world fails to reach that goal, different projections of possible effects include vast swaths of unlivable land where crops can’t grow, areas like the Chesapeake, Miami, and NYC underwater, near constant wildfires and hurricanes, and unbelievable flooding in any area near water. Those projections seem bad enough, but they become even worse when you figure in the structure collapse and displaced people that would come with that amount of damage. The idea that we could be slowly killing ourselves and our own children — that within the next hundred or so years there could be global collapse, chaos, and suffering — is what has sparked terror for many in our generation (the group that will have to live through these disasters).

That fear, however, has also sparked a movement dedicated to stopping those effects. Within the last few years, there have been groups of young people across the world bringing this issue to the forefront. Those young people range from a 16-year-old girl who has become the face of the movement, Greta Thunberg, to the many local high schoolers who organize in the DMV every day and have begun the uphill battle to get governments worldwide to even begin working to slow climate change.

Most recently, there was a global youth climate strike on September 20th, and over 4 million people protested throughout 185 countries. I was one of the organizers for DC’s protest, and also worked with Patagonia on a campaign for Climate Week (the week of the 20th during which there was a variety of different strikes and protests, and a general focus on climate change worldwide). A group of students from Burke joined us, and there were signs and chants, speeches and reporters, and an air of fear, desperation, and anger coming from a crowd of people very aware of the danger of inaction.

A few days later was the “Shut Down DC” project that intended to shut down major streets around DC by means of civil disobedience. Now, however, Climate Week is over, focus and enthusiasm have died down, and preparations for future protests and plans have begun anew.

I had two main goals while writing this. One was simply to inform and spread information about an event that happened around Burke. The other, however, was to reach out to the Burke community when it comes to this issue. We have not been particularly focused on climate justice in the past, but I hope that in addition to changing minds and engaging people in the wider world I can do the same within Burke.

Climate change is one of the few issues that will affect absolutely everything. The global economy cannot realistically take the pressure climate change would apply (natural disasters, health costs, billions of displaced people, ect..), and its collapse or even weakening would not only affect us directly, but would impact all other humanitarian causes. The amount of human suffering that will come with climate change is enormous, and with desperation and chaos comes greater tendencies for violence, discrimination, cruilty, and totalitarian governmental systems. That being said, not all is lost. We haven’t hit that 11 year deadline, and even if we can’t completely reach our goals, having a base for future work will make all the difference.

To me, this is our generation’s issue. It affects absolutely everyone, will wreak catastrophe across the globe, is on a strict timeline, and will most likely be irreversible. I have seen a lot of amazing people do a lot of amazing work surrounding this issue, and I wanted to share in greater detail that amazing work and why it is so critical.

As a last note, I invite everyone to reflect back on the walkout or check it out online, but also to get involved and acknowledge the importance of climate change and its effects. SEA (Students for Environmental Action) will always be here and there will be updates on how the school can continue to contribute. Finally, a very sincere thanks to everyone who was involved in the strike on the 20th!