Cry for the Wild: Holly Gillibrand

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We, as human beings, do not respond that well to facts. We respond to stories and to the emotions of other people.

The school climate strikes have captured this perfectly – children, unlike adults, are ruled by emotion and the main line of the Fridays For Future movement is that we are striking from school because our futures are being stolen.

As I write this, I am looking at a photo of a bridge in America. The bridge is surrounded by glowing orange smoke, completely blocking out the sun, and the hill behind is bursting with flames.

This bridge is called the Bidwell Bar Bridge. Look it up and you will probably find the photo I am referring to. The west coast of America is currently suffering from unprecedented wildfires, exacerbated by extreme drought and heat. The sky over San Francisco is red. It is snowing ash and you cannot see the sun.

This is at one degree Celsius of global heating. The climate science – which, during the coronavirus pandemic, we have all been saying we should listen to – says we are heading for more than three degrees unless we start to treat this crisis as a crisis.

Like we treated the coronavirus crisis. Think of the extreme weather, the wildfires, the food and water shortages, the climate wars, the towns and cities washed off the map, the millions of people dead at three degrees of global heating.

I saw this photo of Bidwell Bar Bridge while I was in school on September 10. But I had to drag myself away from the sight and thought of extreme fires and heat waves to study for a future that I may not have if we do nothing.

I do not have the words to describe the fear and anxiety that young activists like myself experience when we see the world literally burning, and yet the people who have the most power say it is too expensive or not feasible to do anything to stop it.

On September 25, we will be holding another global school climate strike. Another one. It will be week 86 of my own school strike. And still, all we are hearing are empty words from the adults in charge.

What I want more than anything else is to have a normal childhood. What I want more than anything else is to be able to think about my future without wondering if the world will even be habitable in 10 years’ time.

People say Extinction Rebellion is the extremists, the alarmists, the disruptors. If you think a road block is more extreme than what is happening around the world right now due to climate and ecological collapse, then you need to get your head out of the sand.

It should not be up to children to fix this.