OpEd: This is not a lost cause
Growing up, I thought my family was green. We made sure to turn off the water when brushing our teeth, and the lights when leaving the room. When I went grocery shopping with my parents, we used reusable shopping bags. I walked to school everyday and my parents taught me about taking care of the earth. I knew that the world was heating up, and there were bad people hurting it- but I didn't think that my family or I was one of them. When I was younger, I believed that we were doing everything we could do to help the planet.
As I got older, I began to see things differently. Renewable energy and electric cars became a way for people to lower their carbon footprint even more. People in my town started driving not only priuses but electric cars, and my family went solar. I learned more about what we - humans- were doing to our home. It can be hard for Vermonters to connect to climate change on a personal level because we haven't seen such drastic effects as other places around the world, but we face the harsh realities of climate change even in this state. We aren't sheltered from it. We aren't safe. With each year comes more and more rain. Our winters are getting shorter and less snowy. Mud season in Vermont did not always mean completely flooded roads everywhere. These are all products of our rising temperatures.
Scientists have estimated that we have 12 years left to stabilize the earth's temperature at 1.5C or there will be irreversible damage to our planet. I don't want to live in a world where we couldn't come together and save our home. I don't want to spend my life watching animals die off because we have made it impossible for them to survive. I don't want to watch one disaster after another kill and displace many people from their homes with nowhere to go. There is still time to stop these things from happening, but we need to act now. Fossil fuels must go.
Over the summer I traveled to India, a country that has 1.34 billion people, but utilizes so much less in their life. It opened my eyes to the fact that I live with so many unnecessary things at home.
Our society is so materialistic and over consumes in everything, and we don't see how much it is hurting the earth and everything in it. I think that as Americans, it is ingrained in us that our country is the best, but in reality this is not true. We are one of the leading countries in the production of carbon emissions, we have a deeply unequal society, and the people in power are not taking action.
In fact, many of them are creating more injustice. While it may be easier to ignore, but we must continue to fight. If we can't a way to solve the climate crisis, the world will only continue to become more and more unjust.
Like many other youth of today, I can't live my life in denial of what is happening right in front of my eyes. I can't know what I know and do nothing. I have a duty to my earth and everything in it to do everything in my power to not destroy an entire planet. I am aware of every choice I make and how it is impacting the earth. My next car will be electric, I carpool almost everyday now, I choose to shop local instead of online. I am a member of the Vermont Youth Lobby, and right now we are working hard to get our legislators to pass impactful climate legislation this session. I know that it is easy to be hopeless and fearful, but we must remember that this is not a lost cause: yet. We must remember this is still solvable even if our government is currently making it worse.
While individual actions alone will not solve the climate crisis, they can do a lot to help. Deciding to strike today was an individual action that every single one of us made, and it shows that we have had enough. We are done with the earth's needs being pushed aside because our society is so dependent on fossil fuels.
We are done with governments making empty promises about saving the environment only to roll them back. We are done with so many people treating the climate crisis like it's a far away thing that won't happen for a very long time.
Today can be the day where we all make the choice to fight. We can make the choice to write to our local representatives urging them to pass strong and effective climate legislation for Vermont, we can write to our senators. We can go solar. We can fly less. We can carpool. We can divest. We become more aware about how much we consume. By disrupting our daily lives today, we are showing that there is no alternative to fighting for climate justice because sitting back and watching our planet die is not an option. Let's be the generation that saves the planet- not the one that destroys it forever.
Evelyn Seidner is a senior
at Burr and Burton Academy.
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