Dear Leaders of Today: Climate Change Open Letter

Dear Leaders of Today, 

I write this as one of many, who are young and active and care about their future. I am truly terrified. The world is a scary place, and I would like to be a part of those who make it better. Unfortunately, I am extremely frustrated because our future seems grim, and I am terrified that I will not be given my opportunity to make change.

 

Australia is burning, and it looks like an apocalyptic movie. Millions of people and animals are choking on the smoke. Indonesia has witnessed both deadly forest burnings and floods within the same year. Puerto Rico and the Bahamas are still grappling with the effects of Hurricane Dorian and Hurricane Maria. Delhi, India witnessed “unbearable levels” of air pollution. Flint, Michigan still struggles with unsafe drinking water. Record breaking temperatures are destroying both the environment and the people who live in it. The colossal effects of climate change are devastating communities everyday, and the leaders of the world don’t seem to care. Really the leaders of the world don’t seem to care about a lot of the dangerous issues that affect young people and their future. I want to do something to help, but when it comes to country-defining, world-ending issues it is the you, people in power, that have to make the changes. I’d like to believe that one can make a difference, that young people can make a difference (which I think we can for smaller and local issues), but everytime one young person steps up, they are eventually shot down by the more powerful adults above them. Even Greta Thunberg, who is being venerated as the greatest change in our generation, is frustrated because she can only ask the old-white-men-of-power to initiate change. She can rally with inspiring speeches and win awards and strike all she wants. We, as the young, can do all we want, but we are ultimately not yet the ones writing policy or running omni-powerful companies and making those life-altering decisions. We can only hope that our voice can influence the people in power enough to make the correct choices so that one day soon we will have a future where these important decisions are in our own hands.

 

I will admit young people have made progress on many fronts. March for Our Lives, Fridays for Future, and the Sunrise Movement have all created good change in the world. But even looking at the progress of these youth movements, their success is not in the things that need to be changed. We need policies that affect the number of people killed by gun violence and those who are poisoned by their communities’ unhealthy drinking water. Unfortunately, the youth are not yet the politicians and lobbyists in the room where it happens.

 

Yes, maybe one day soon, the young will become the powerful ones who sit in the chairs, write the rules, and bicker over plans for the future, as every generation before us has. For they were once the rebellious hopefuls who snarled at their parents and grandparents. They once hated the way their society was run. They wanted to create change to fit their perceived perfect image of the world. Eventually they did. They grew up. They became the ones in power and for better or for worse were able to decide which way the world’s tables turned.

 

And like them, my peers and I will grow into the molders of the world. But the current issues of today’s world rob my generation the opportunity to be the role models and the leaders we wish to be. Climate change’s existential dread has heightened our senses. We do not get the luxury of waiting for our turn to hold the stick because we feel the pressure of humanity’s end nearing every year without the aid from those who grasp the stick firmly in the present. We feel that our turn will never come because you, and the generations before you, have cheated the game without a care for the ones that follow.

 

So I am asking you, current wielders of the future, to please make your next move in the direction of humanity’s future, so that one day we may get our turn.