My guest blogger today is 14-year-old Grace Maddrell, a climate activist and writer from England.
She / her (although she is not fussed about pronouns), is part of several groups, but in general, works with Fridays For Future, Polluters Out, Extinction Rebellion and the #SaveCongoRainforest campaign. She strikes every day for the rainforest and every week for FFF.
Working a lot around climate justice and with African activists, an Amazonian FFF group once called her 'the most active person in the global North, for the global South.'
by Grace Maddrell
This journey isn't new. Some peoples have been fighting for the climate for centuries. But it has fundamentally changed in the last two years.
The journey to those streets being packed, not with traffic, but with youth, did, in fact, start less than two years ago. On the streets outside the Swedish Parliament.
Of course, Greta Thunberg went a long way to get there. As did the climate movement as a whole. But the road to those youth flooding the streets began when an autistic fifteen-year-old sat on the pavement and sent a clear message to the world that she'd had enough.
This isn't about Greta. That much, we've been clear on since the start. This is about the IPCC report which came out on 1st January 2018. This is about the cyclones in Mozambique, the floods in Sudan, the water shortages in India and Pakistan. This is about the ice melting in Greenland, the fires in the Amazon and the heatwaves across the world.
This is about the mental health crisis that is hitting so many young people, because, whether consciously or not, they know something is very wrong. This is about the fact that we cannot live without stable temperatures, reasonable sea levels, and biodiversity. This is about the centuries of injustice and oppression of Indigenous communities, communities of colour, low-income communities, basically anyone and everyone who doesn't belong in the world that the people in power want us to live in.
Certain people, places, and communities are getting the very worst of it, being denied basic human rights for the comfort of somebody privileged.
And about the fact that it's dying.
To be clear, the planet is not itself dying, exactly. I mean, the Earth will continue on for millions of years. But this, it's about a choice. It's about whether we go on as we are, and let Earth become a barren rock, or stop, and let it stay a green-and-blue gem, a jewel cradled in the blackness of the universe. A jewel that, as a place where life can thrive, is one in... more than million.
Because, really, Earth isn't alive without its lungs, the forests. Without its veins, the rivers. Without everything that makes it different to all the other spheres of rock or gas that are orbiting this sun with us.
And at the core of it, this movement is about life. Because people, animals, and plants are dying. Because the children in privileged countries are currently facing a bleak future, whilst those in less privileged ones don't have the luxury of facing it, fearing it, and wondering what it will be like. It's hitting them, now.
As my friend Vanessa Nakate, an activist from Uganda, Africa, which in the last year has suffered devastating floods and landslides, says, ''It isn't [just] Fridays For Future, it's Fridays for Now.''
This crisis is in the present for many people, and those of us who have the luxury of living relatively unaffected MUST recognise that we aren't the ones who should be taking the foreground in this fight.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't fight (peacefully, obviously), or give speeches, or anything. It means that we have to know that we need to pass the mic, figuratively, and sometimes literally, speaking.
I know some people say it's hopeless. But no, I don't believe that. Because I have seen the hope. I have seen it in the faces of the young people when they show their anger, when they realise their power. I have seen it in the figures that say how small a percentage of the population we need to get onside to achieve system change.
Although this figure varies, it's under 10%, often said to be under 5%. In some ways, that's a massive amount. But on the other hand, it isn't really that many of us at all, compared to the global population. I have seen hope in the fierce, emotional words of Greta Thunberg, of Hilda Nakabuye, of Vanessa Nakate and Licypriya Kangujam and all the people who rise up. I have seen hope in my friends who fight day after day. I have seen hope in the fact that around six to seven MILLION marched on September 20th and 27th combined. That is one of the biggest demonstrations in history. I see hope every day, in the people.
But, a word on hope. You can't just sit there and wait for it to come to you. You have to, quote, unquote, ''be the change you want to see in the world.'' You have to know what you hope for, and then do what you can to make it happen. And, like Greta says, you have to earn it.
You don't deserve hope if you're continuing to make decisions that you know are disastrous for the planet, for Indigenous communities, for animals. And you don't deserve hope if you're leaving it to the youth to give it to you. Hope isn't lies. Hope isn't saying it'll be okay when it won't.
Hope is action. Hope is the fact that we still have time.
A word on time. No, we don't have any more time for business as usual. We ran out of time for that years and years ago.
No, we don't have any more time for excuses or lies, for empty words, or greenwashing. No, this isn't an excuse to keep pumping out oil, to keep cutting down forests or mass-producing plastic.
What I mean when I say we still have time is that we still have time, in most scientists' views, until the tipping point that will take us beyond a point of no return.
And if we act, not in a year, not in a month, not even in an hour, right NOW, then we still have a chance (a 66% to 67% chance, in a nutshell, with the current Co2 budget and so on) of turning this around.
Even now, we still have a chance to live. We still have a chance to thrive.
We have the solutions, in many ways. And even where we don't, we have a solution for that. The solution to not knowing the solutions is to LISTEN to those who do. And if no-one does, to find them. Together.
So step forward. You have a place in creating this sustainable, accepting, world. Step forward and join hands. You are powerful. I hear you. I see you. Don't ever underestimate what you can do. Because anyone can change the world for the better.
Right now, we have to focus on the climate. But this doesn't mean other issues will be neglected. Because if we acknowledge what caused this crisis – oppression, colonialism, capitalism, imperialism, a sense of superiority to the rest of nature, separation from nature, and a lack of acceptance – then we can use the solutions to make a society of peace and acceptance.
Because without an equal place for everyone and everything in it, without a global realisation that ALL LIVES MATTER, what kind of world are we saving?
So stand up. Speak up. Rise up. And do it with love. Because love, more than anything, has the power to build a bridge to a better world.