Leaders in Climate Change
Solar Decathlon Africa published a photo album on social media this morning, depicting scenes from a recent school visiting day to the solar village. Groups of young people cluster in front of buildings that push the boundaries of both technology and design, smiling. This “generation of the future” is not unlike any other that must shoulder both the triumphs and the burdens of the past, and yet the realities of climate change facing the world they will inherit are something new. This fact is clearly not escaping them, as youth climate activists such as Greta Thunberg and Jaime Lynn Butler are among the strongest voices today calling for change. They inspire us, instilling a sense of hope for the future that we desperately need. But as Thunberg has said over and over again, we need to do more than listen. Rita Ferrone writes in Commonweal Magazine:
“Their energy, and the very fact that they do not despair of changing the habits and structures that have landed us in this mess, provide the world with something precious . . . But if the adult world simply watches and applauds, and does not engage in its own reciprocal work and sacrifice to reduce carbon emissions, little will change.”
Young people may spark our collective imagination and reignite that necessary sense of idealism that tends to go dormant with age, and in this sense they play a vital role. They are the future, but we share the present. And though the ways in which we act will necessarily be as diverse as we are, we are all in this together. Whether you are a homeowner interested in retrofitting your home to increase efficiency, a working adult who is able to bike or take advantage of public transportation to make the commute, a retiree who is able to build a net zero home to age in place and then leave to the next generation, a college student who can engage in or even lead community sustainability initiatives with resources that an individual alone may not have, or a kid who skips school to take part in the global climate strike coming up on September 20th, everything and everyone matters.