The Rising Torrent: Helping The Next Generation Fight Climate Change

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The web of issues permeating outward from the climate change crisis seem to extend and constrict; like the circling vines of wisteria around the trunk of a tree. But the lack of climate action is creating some bright leaders among our youngest advocates.

Words by Jack Parsons

Photography by Andy Summons

The momentum of our warming climate is undeniable; constantly reinforced by the next bizarre weather pattern, disappearing country or damning data report. In the face of all the evidence are the self-interested conservatives who care more about a quick buck than the very backbone of continued civilisation. They are a thin branch standing in the way of a torrent and though their archaic rumblings simply can’t prevail, their continuing apathy causes a deadly delay.

Depending on your mood or the dominating headline of any given day, you might shuffle between hopeful and hopeless, such are the swings and roundabouts of the positive moments countered by the horrific. At the time of writing this, there is an area close to the size of New South Wales on fire in the Amazon; ravaging our Earth’s carbon storehouse, creating emissions rather than neutralising them. The fires are caused by careless deforestation and the back burning of land for agriculture. The effects on climate change will be felt globally.

Climate Strike Youth

“A global army with a unified voice demanding that the wool be pulled from their eyes.”

The bad news continues to be really, really bad, but there is still hope and optimism. Our future solutions to the urgent and unfortunately controversial issue of a changing climate are being championed by the youth; and they are being heard. A name that instantly springs to mind is the fearless Greta Thunberg. In August of 2018 she began a sit-down protest outside of Swedish parliament which lasted 3 weeks in order to create a response to climate change. An incredibly gutsy display from a 15-year-old.

With the help of social media, this simple and courageous protest sparked a global movement culminating firstly in Fridays For Future, where tens of thousands of school students skipped school and pledged their allegiance, and then in the Climate Strike, where millions of people took time off school and work to march through towns and cities for climate action. A global army with a unified voice demanding that the wool be pulled from their eyes. The torrent.

Greta has continued to advocate for positive change to the climate, imploring her supporters to lead by example. Most recently she sailed from the UK to New York on a solar zero carbon yacht. She stepped off the sea craft and acknowledged the trip’s absurdity. She thought it crazy that someone had to cross the Atlantic in a PR exercise when there are glaring examples of climate shift in front of our eyes.

Regardless of the actions that might be required of her, Greta is creating positive change and fast tracking the voices of the future. She is an inspiring leader on the world stage, destroying any convention and pre-conceived ideas of what people in certain age groups should be doing. We are lucky that the youth in Australia have her to look to. But she is not the only beacon of inspiration. There are several key players closer to home making significant steps in climate advocacy. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition, its sister organisation The Seed, and strong leaders like Amelia Telford are all on the front line fighting for change.

“The Australian Youth Climate Coalition is Australia’s largest youth-run organisation with over 120,000 members.”

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition is Australia’s largest youth-run organisation with over 120,000 members. They are lobbying for leaders to take responsibility for the climate crisis. They acknowledge that though they have done the least to cause the problem, they stand to gain the most from fixing it. They have over 1400 volunteers and stood in solidarity with Greta Thunberg.

The AYCC recently released a report entitled the Solar School Report outlining a pathway for Victoria and New South Wales on how to support schools becoming 100% renewable with clean energy. Some schools are already doing great things, Like Broadmeadows Primary School which has been generating clean energy since 2010 through solar panels and a wind turbine. They have saved over $35k in electricity bills to reinvest into school facilities and programs.

“It wasn’t long after their campaign that one of Australia’s largest businesses, the Commonwealth Bank, backed out of their support for the Adani mine.”

Sister organisation to the AYCC is The Seed, which is the first Aboriginal youth climate network. First Nations people have lived in harmony with the environment for tens of thousands of years; despite the continued and repeated efforts of those overseeing an ugly colonisation.

The national director of The Seed is Amelia Telford. She is a young Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from Bundjaong country. Her protest days started early when as a 9-year-old she wrote a letter to John Howard requesting that the national anthem be changed to better represent Australia as it truly was – not as the young nation the song portrayed. Ever the monarchist, he replied that 9/10 people thought the anthem as we know it to be satisfactory.

Still in her twenties, Telford has been crowned National NAIDOC Youth of the Year, Bob Brown’s Young Environmentalist of the year and the Australian Geographic Young Conservationist of the year. She represents the Australian youth who are taking their role in the world seriously. Telford and The Seed fought hard in their Don’t Risk The Reef campaign which zeroed in on the big banks providing funding for the Abbot Point port expansion and the Carmichael mine. The campaign harnessed the changing public attitudes to big business investing in destructive projects. It wasn’t long after their campaign that one of Australia’s largest businesses, the Commonwealth Bank, backed out of their support for the Adani mine.

Climate Strike Youth

“Be a part of the rising torrent.”

Much like Greta Thunberg, Amelia Telford is a driven, bright and fearless ambassador for young Australians and the environment. It is people like Amelia and Greta who will turn the tide on the old grey sticks trying to stand in the way of the torrent. But they can’t do it on their own.

Below are some small changes you can make to contribute to the momentum of our young heroes. Be a part of the rising torrent.

CONSUME CONSCIOUSLY

Research the brands you’re buying from to see if they make an effort to reduce their footprint. And try to buy locally or second-hand when you can.

INVEST IN CLEAN ENERGY

If you’re going to invest in something, it may as well be something that has some longevity, and clean energy is the way of the future. Also check your super fund to make sure they’re backing clean energy as opposed to coal.

DONATE TO CLIMATE ACTION INITIATIVES

Most donations are tax deductible.

EAT LESS RED MEAT

You don’t need to go completely vegan, but even eating a third less meat than you normally would can have a big impact on the environment.

REDUCE YOUR PACKAGING FOOTPRINT

Whenever you order takeaway, bring your own bowl or plate. And always carry a reusable coffee cup and water bottle in your bag. Avoid purchasing food items with excessive packaging, and instead opt to buy them in bulk when you can.

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Jack Parsons

Jack Parsons is a Melbourne based criminal lawyer and member of local rock and roll band The Pretty Littles. He loves writing, photography and surf. He has written for Paper Sea Quarterly, LNWY Media, Veri.Live and BEAT.

2019-10-02T06:46:55+00:00 Categories: Conservation|Tags: , , |