The Original Climate Kid, Amira Azoulay, provides her perspective on the climate crisis and how she sees it impacting her generation and the world. Check out this compelling call to action piece from a passionate youth in our community.
This is a guest post by Amira Azoulay, original Climate Kid, Southern California resident, student at Pacific Beach Middle School, young author and future researcher. More about Amira at trokulismydaemon.wixsite.com/mysite . Follow her on Wattpad for additional short stories! (@Californienne101).
Climate change is widely referred to as the biggest problem of our lifetimes. A brief glance at history allows us to observe that less than seventy years ago, most people did not even know what climate change was, and some to this day still don't believe that we are destroying our planet. But it is true: there are hundreds of studies from which we can conclude that the human species is causing the collapse of entire ecosystems. We are already beginning to feel the consequences of climate change as global temperatures rise and extreme weather events increase.
Nowadays, everyone hears scientists and leaders on the news, explaining what climate change is and what we can do to avoid the worst-case scenarios. But looking away from the adult leaders, what about the new generation? What about the children that are growing up with the knowledge that entire species are disappearing? That our coral reefs are being bleached? That our forests are being cut down, all in the name of profit? What do they think? How will this impact these children, when they hear news of large fires spreading not too far from them, when they see images of destroyed homes after extreme weather events, and have the knowledge that this is all our own doing?
We began the industrial revolution. We spew countless amounts of fossil fuels in the atmosphere. We cut down forests and burn them for profit. We destroy ecosystems, ending the lives of millions of animals, whose only missteps are to be in our way. Yet some of us still argue that no, nothing is wrong with the planet, that we’re faking all this evidence for our own notorious purposes.
It is incredibly disheartening to have these thoughts in your head. I know that I have had them, for years on end, and the only thing that’s been giving me hope is that I’m not alone in this fight.
There are thousands of other children and teenagers that feel the same way as me, alone, manipulated, as if our predecessors handed us a balloon with a hole in it that’s slowly leaking air, then scampered off and yelled, “Good luck!” over their shoulders. I feel betrayed. I feel angry. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.
An article published by USA Today tells that the rate of suicide among those aged 10 to 24 increased nearly 60% between 2007 and 2018. Experts agree that there could be a wide variety of reasons behind this trend, but that general anxiety concerning climate change is right up there with social media and more recent crises, like the Covid-19 pandemic. To me this makes a lot of sense. If you care about our wildlife, you’re going to be nervous, when you hear about all the forest fires and natural disasters happening all over the world. And, as we all know, high amounts of stress and anxiety can easily lead to feelings of depression.
So it is clear that climate change takes its toll on mental health. Personally, I feel that it is a really terrifying notion to grow up with. It helps, though, to know that there are many other people out there, ready to fight for change, and I am one of them. Growing up with a climate scientist mother, I have accompanied her to several events, where I have learned about all the ways we can do our part on a daily basis. For example, reusing objects instead of throwing them away. This saves money and helps the environment. My mom and I have done this a lot in our garden.
Fortunately, change is already happening. In 2016, 197 countries worldwide signed the Paris Agreement, a policy to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions. Many countries have also increased the amount of renewable energy, and the new US President Joe Biden has already created a 10-year climate plan to cut US emissions in half by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. It is an ambitious plan, but has assured Americans that the White House is once again taking the threat of climate change seriously.
In conclusion, it is important for people, especially for children, to focus on the victories, like Biden’s 10-year climate commitment, rather than the negative side that the media prefers to show. I hope this has encouraged and reassured those of you that may feel overwhelmed by the sheer prospect of climate change. Remember, there are still things we can do, (like save water, energy, walk or ride a bike, there are many ways to help) so don’t succumb to feelings of helplessness, and spread your knowledge of climate change and what can be done to stop it. Everyone can make a difference, no matter how small, and there is no shortage of opportunities if you are interested. Below are a few simple things I do on a daily basis:
Walk and ride my bike often
Maintain an animal-friendly garden, with no pesticides or harmful products to the environment
Turn off the lights when I am not in the room
Stay on trails when I am taking hikes
Educate others about climate change
For more things you can do to help, visit: Climate Science Alliance