Almost entire my generation shares the same fear. We all have different methods to cope, so it is expressed in a variety of ways, ranging from cynical jokes to devastating attacks of anxiety.
Our shared fear is the fear for our future, a future that is threatened by a global, ecological crisis, so devastating that it has only parallels in the long expanse of prehistory; numbed by passage of time, we have no qualms about referring to a prehistoric event as the ‘Great Dying’, but our society is seemingly too scared to acknowledge the truth, so we give our era’s mass extinction a more tactful name: climate change.
Those in control of society have known about climate change and its threats to Humanity since long before my generation was born, yet they did nothing to act, nothing to change their unsustainable behaviours, nothing to save our planet. Instead, they chose their own short-term interests and profits, and left a dying world for my generation to inherit.
Humanity has always held a progressive vision, and, as part of this vision, it has taken great efforts to ensure that its children are, not only prepared for life, but in a position to build upon the legacy of the generations that preceded them. Yet, because of the actions of a small, but powerful few, this progressive vision has become clouded; how can my generation be prepared for a threat that no human has ever experienced before?
How can my generation build upon humanity’s legacy when the foundations of that legacy, our planet, is dying, scorched under a thickening atmosphere that once maintained a hospitable climate before capitalist industries released sickening quantities of greenhouse gases, and cut down or set fire to the Earth’s lungs.
Too often, the blame is placed on ‘humanity’, or on ‘society’, or even on individuals, scolded by those more privileged than them for not being able to afford the idealised, sustainable ideals of ‘green capitalism’. But the blame does not belong to us; approximately 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to just 100 companies, so the blame should not be placed upon us, the victims of the changing climate, but upon the few, who are responsible for the rampant exploitation and devastation of our planet and its resources.
It is, perhaps, even counter-productive to focus on these few, even if they act in complete disregard to the needs and well-being of others, but, instead, we should combat the unjust systems of economic and social injustice that enable them to continue to destroy entire ecosystems and threaten our civilisation just so they can continue to leech off of, and profit from, the shared fruits of humanity’s labour.
My generation, born over the first embers of climate change’s destructive blaze, has understood the systematic nature of the threat, and has mobilised thousands of its members onto the streets, sacrificing hours of precious education, to rally the rest of society behind its desperate cries, hoping, beyond all hope, that, together, united, humanity will act to destroy the systems that shackle it, gather the smouldering ashes of the burning planet and, from those ashes, mould a new, better world, founded on principles of sustainability, solidarity, and liberty for all.
My peers and I have rallied under the banner of the UK Student Climate Network and, together, we are calling for a ‘Green New Deal’; a deal that will not only mitigate climate change, saving us from its worst impacts, but will also refuse to sacrifice the livelihoods of anyone to do so, instead creating new opportunities and hopes for the future.
The Green New Deal will play an important part in establishing the fundamentally interconnected principles of climate justice and social justice, not only for our generation, but for the remaining generations that preceded it, and for every generation that will follow us.
We believe that the Green New Deal is vital, not only as a solution to the problem that imperils us all, but also as a transitional step to a better, more equitable society. We call on everyone to join us on the streets, but to also organise in their own, unique situations, utilising a diversity of tactics and perspectives, in order to help us save our shared planet, and to, truly, leave a legacy that we can all be proud of.
Alexander Edwards is a student and activist, living in Cardiff