Commentary: The next generation needs you to wake up and listen

Climate chaos is already here and it is only going to get worse in the foreseeable future.

(Photo courtesy of Vaughn Lovejoy) Fridays for Future demonstration at the Utah State Capitol, Sept. 3, 2021.

“Some of the world’s leading climate change scientists confirmed that humans are making irreversible changes to our planet and extreme weather will only become more severe. This news is a ‘code red for humanity,’ said the United Nations secretary general. It is — but young people like us have been sounding this alarm for years. You just haven’t listened.”

— “This Is The World Left To Us,” Greta Thunberg, The New York Times, August 21, 2021

Fridays For Future is an international, intersectional movement of students striking for climate. FFF began in August 2018, after 15-year-old Greta Thunberg sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis. Since then, millions of people have participated in Fridays For Future strikes around the world.

Since early 2019 we youth have gathered almost every Friday in front of the Utah State Capitol trying to get you to wake up and help us. We need you as our elected officials, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers to join us in the fight to protect our future. Climate chaos is already here and it is only going to get worse in the foreseeable future.

We are striking weekly to raise awareness of the destruction of our planet that is being ignored. At the rate we are progressing with climbing carbon emissions, our and future generations will not have a chance.

Catastrophic fires are burning around the world at an unprecedented rate. The accelerating melting of polar ice and glaciers around the world and the acidification of the oceans. The heartbreaking extinction of countless other lifeforms. This year there has already been the deadliest for flooding since 2017 due to extreme weather events. Experts fear massive famines in the next few years. To survive these and other expected catastrophes we must dramatically change our society.

Would you ever put any child in harm’s way? To this question you probably answer no, but the sad reality is yes. The actions you take now will result in many of us children starving, drowning and even taking our own lives because climate change has gotten too out of hand.

Parents, grandparents, teachers and government officials: Do you love us? Do you love your children? If you truly did, we wouldn’t be scared to death about what our future will hold. We wouldn’t be striking weekly to demand action on the climate crisis you have caused. Give us a reason to believe that you care about the already occurring agonizing deaths and suffering of multitudes of children and refugees around the world due to the accelerating climate instability, let alone our futures. We need your help.

We demand the immediate halt to the continued expansion of fossil fuel production and the end of allowing the enormous profiteering vested interests to continue to prevent the transformative policies that are needed to protect our future. We need to create a society that is not driven by ever-increasing consumption. We need to radically transform our economic and governing systems to serve life as opposed to serving the rapacious greed of transnational corporations and multibillionaires.

We must localize our food production in ecologically enhancing ways. It is time that we collectively heal the wounds of social and racial injustices. We must create a society based on compassion and cooperation. We know this may sound naïve, but our future depends on it.

So, we are pleading with you to help us, we cannot do it without you. We still believe if enough of us demand it, we can change the world. Please join us on September 24 for the Global Climate Strike to help us create a future we can live with. We are gathering at Washington Square in Salt Lake City at 11 am then walking up to the State Capitol from 11:30 to noon. From noon until 2 pm we have put together a program of how we can work together to heal our world.

Melanie Van Hook, 13, Salt Lake City; Natalie Roberts, 14, Salt Lake City; Sofia Valero, 15, Salt Lake City; Nina Serafin, 17, Park City; Raquel Juarez, 20, Ogden, write on behalf of Fridays For Future-Utah

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