“What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now!”
As the Palm Oil Investigations Youth Ambassador, I was at the School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) march in Melbourne on Friday March 15. It was estimated that the SS4C march attracted more than one million students internationally, in 125 countries, attending over 2000 gatherings. We were protesting to save the environment and our future. In Melbourne, there were students from different schools all around the state, as well as adults who didn’t necessarily have kids there!
We were peacefully but firmly protesting about three main things:
- 100% renewable energy by 2030.
- No to the Adani coal mine in central Queensland.
- No new coal or gas projects.
I have been inspired to do this by three people: Dr Jane Goodall (the 84-year-old activist who has dedicated her life to conservation, and she is my personal mentor); Lorinda Jane (Founder of Palm Oil Investigations); and Greta Thunberg (the 16-year-old activist from Sweden). I am a very proud member of Dr Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots international program for young citizens, which aims to place the “power and responsibility for creating solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people”. My mentor Dr Jane has always said there is hope for the environment, and through Roots and Shoots, I have learnt that the young generation are the ones who can save it. Dr Jane proudly calls herself an activist and once said “I went to that conference as a scientist … and left as an activist.”
I strongly believe that activism is an important part of learning and that even young people have a voice and the power to make change happen. My teacher, Helen Stearman from Virtual School Victoria (formerly the Distance Education Centre of Victoria), has taught me that: “The role of a teacher is to teach students how to learn and how to think, not what to learn or what to think”.
In my opinion, climate change is an extremely important environmental issue for the younger generation and I feel it is up to us to do everything we can before it is too late. We are currently living through the sixth mass extinction of plant and animal species, which is happening at a rate 100 to 1000 times faster than expected. I agree with Greta Thunberg who says “I need you to panic!”. Not enough is being done, so now the youth of today are taking matters into their own hands and demanding their voices be heard.
“The one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.” (Greta Thunberg, 2018.)