I attended the Student Climate Strike on September 20 in Pittsburgh. So did my 14-year-old son, who is actually a student. I went to show my support of the students but also because climate change is affecting me, too, and all of us. A lot of other gray-haired people had the same idea.
In fact, starting out at the interdenominational gathering at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, I saw mostly older people, many of whom indicated on their signs or in their statements to reporters that they were “standing up for our grandchildren’s future.” Okay, nice, but:
Climate change is already happening! Climate change has been happening all my life!! No matter how old you are, if you are a human being alive on Earth now, climate change has been happening all your life. Okay, it was less obvious before, but didn’t you notice all the messages through the decades reminding us that we should not burn up the whole planet as fast as possible because that’s just logically going to have some consequences?! Remember? Didn’t you listen to the singing Earth? “If everyone tries a bit harder, our fuel will go farther and farther!” That. Was. Forty. Years. Ago.
So yeah, I was there to stand up for my children’s future, but I was there also to stand up for my own future and my own present with the unprecedented rainfall causing landslides! I expect to live on Earth for another five decades, so let’s get this mess cleaned up before it gets any worse!
I’m very glad to say that when we got to the actual Student Strike where a lot of the speeches were made by children and teenagers, it was clear that the kids understand this is not just about their future; this is about RIGHT NOW. Now is the cool of the day. The wave of climate change has been building for two hundred years, and now that it’s starting to splash us, we’ve got to stop adding to it and try to minimize the destruction–not in the future, not for the sake of the future, but RIGHT NOW to make the world livable for ourselves and others who are suffering RIGHT NOW.
That’s why I’m so glad about something else I noticed at the Pittsburgh march–and once I noticed, I started looking really closely to make sure; I looked at hundreds of people. The marchers were not drinking from disposable plastic water bottles, eating snacks in plastic wrappers, or otherwise making instant garbage. I saw lots of reusable water bottles, several lunches in reusable containers, but none of that thoughtless trash that typically accompanies every event! (My son told me he did see one beverage in a single-use lidded cup.)
That is the future we’re bringing in now, the future that’s been gaining traction all this century so far, pushing back against the disposable lifestyle with a demand for better options that has made those better options easier and easier to get. Follow the kids’ example and get out there to show yourself that it is not too hard to plan ahead for the possibility that you might need a drink of water or a snack, and to insist that it is not too hard to clean up our choices on a larger scale, to save the animals and our grandchildren and ourselves.