Part 2 of 2: Now, Not Later, and Why It Matters.
This is the second post in a two-part series. If you missed the first post, you can find it here.
Enter climate change.
Since I was young, I have always loved being outdoors, surrounded by nature - after all, it was the perfect way for an apathetic child to distance herself from the hustle and bustle of the big metropolises where I was raised.
All throughout elementary school, systematic thinking seemed like the way to go; it was straightforward, effortless, and simply the more logical approach to take. Questioning the "status quo" or the popular "social norms" at the time was a one-way ticket to being outcast and ridiculed by my peers, nevermind taking an outright stance!
In fact, I guarantee I would have balked completely if you had suggested I “stood up for what was right”. To my then 12 year-old self, everything perpetrated by the media, world leaders, and everything “mainstream society”, had to be correct. What was there to question?
It wasn’t when I got to middle school that I began to notice the “finer details”, largely thanks to my improved Internet research abilities, my exposure to various actions taken by a wider range of school clubs - most notably the environmental council, and a few particularly influential teachers.
However, as I grew increasingly knowledgeable about the dire state of our planet and the inaction by decision-makers, “adult leaders”, and the like, I started to get a sense of just how urgent things were - be it the world’s carbon budget or, by extension, rate of sea level rise.
It was then I realized that I couldn’t the bear the thought of sitting idly by, when the lives and/or livelihoods of my entire generation - and those to come - are at risk. It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t.
But when I took that first “leap of faith”, I witnessed firsthand the positive impacts of when one decides to dream and do; the two are not mutually exclusive.
To my fellow youth out there, feeling hopeless or insignificant, know that you are not alone. I, too, used to harbour those same sentiments. But now I urge of you to channel those feelings into tangible action. Find causes to feel passionate about. Then, find ways to make a positive difference. Heck, even find others just like you to embark on the journey together.
And, if the craziness that was the U.S. election has taught me anything, it’s that you cannot underestimate the power of a single tweet, and that the new President-elect has openly expressed climate change as a farce perpetrated by the Chinese, but that’s for another time.
Either way, we cannot continue to find excuses and push environmental issues to the bottom of our agenda. They aren’t a problem for “later”. They beckon for our attention now. I do not have to wait until I become a “leader of tomorrow” to do something if I already choose to become a leader of today.
Procrastination is not the solution to the world’s troubles.
"Today," I vow, "not tomorrow."
- A L I C E C H E N G -
I'm a 15 year old Osaka-born Chinese IB student who calls Toronto home. Native to Shenyang, an old industrial city in Northeastern China, I didn't grow up with the most eco-friendly household/circle of friends.