Our youth has been marked by fear. The generation born at the turn of the millennium, my generation, has had our lives overshadowed by a truly existential threat.
I’m not referring to the threat of nationalism or the rising insinuation of an arms race in the Pacific (though it is certainly something to think about), and I’m not referring to the possibility of nuclear extinction (although it certainly keeps me up at night). I am referring to the ever-pressing threat of climate change.
Protesting and pondering
I’m not one for protesting but I have been to a couple of protests. On Sept. 24, I attended the protest for climate change at Victoria Park in Halifax. With signs proclaiming “the world is hotter than Kendall Jenner” and “human change, not climate change,” we marched up South Park Street into the heart of the city. We stood outside of the Nova Scotia Power building on Lower Water Street and shared our fears through our chants. Further protesting has been tentatively planned for Oct. 22.
I think the fact that there was a protest, and that it was primarily led by young people, tells us a lot about what today’s youth are feeling – fear.
We are afraid because we are being raised in a world that might not exist for us to inhabit it. Unlike generations before us, a new evolution of the planet may not proceed this one. Worse yet, this loss of our future is totally preventable. We just aren’t acting fast enough and it’s leading us closer to a potentially ugly finale.
According to a 2019 report by the Government of Canada, our climate is warming twice as quickly as the global average. Currently, Canada has a plan for zero net emissions by 2050, but a 2019 study on global climate change says major Canadian cities could see temperatures rise by three degrees Celsius or more by then. Where does this leave us?
Thinking about climate change conjures fears of a future society marked with mass migration and suffering due to ecological collapse. This is not the world we have been preparing for.
Taking a stand and making choices
Standing in Victoria Park, looking out at the flying signs, hearing the rowdy cries, music and marching feet, I saw what a strong motivator fear is.
More than 1,000 of us took to the streets and every shout, step and flag was a deeply moving testament to the fact that we still care. For us to come together, as afraid as we are, says a lot about the ethos young people have embraced for ourselves. Isn’t it a beautiful and inspiring thing that we rage, shout and cry against injustice?
Like David standing his ground against Goliath, the idea that a small group of protesters in Halifax, N.S., will make a difference in the fight against global warming seems slim. Yet, I appreciate the implicit beauty of the moment my generation decided to take matters into our own hands.
Young people work hard for a future that may not be waiting for us at the end of our academic careers. We study, we pay, we work and we plan relentlessly for tomorrow. We invest in the promise of a future broken by the people who came before us, some of whom won’t be here to deal with the aftermath.
This is what September’s protest helped us to voice.
And we will raise our voices again and again, until we are heard.