My daughter is 14 and is preoccupied about the survival of our planet.
When I was 14 I spent my time mostly bothered about boys, spots and whether I had too much eyeliner on. Although according to my friend Sharon you could never use enough eyeliner. The point is I’m angry that my child’s concerns are beyond the usual teenage angst.
There is a tangible fear that hangs over her head. This just isn’t something she should have to be so concerned about. It’s something movies are made of. Maybe starring Idris Elba (bare-chested and a bit sweaty) battling the fossil fuel hungry conglomerates… Anyway I digress. She is scared. So am I. And so should you be.
It’s great she has an awareness of environmental issues. She’s the one who has pushed the family to recycle. She nags me to buy an electric car. We use reusable water bottles and the mesh veg bags and we have eliminated meat from our diet (mostly, or I’m headed for divorce). But when I step outside my bubble I feel there’s only so much more we can do.
I’m still guilty of clocking up my fair share of air miles over the years, we all love a bit of Tupperware and don’t get me started on the amount of plastic bags I used to line my school Jelly Bag in the day. I hang my head in 80s plastic culture shame.
In reality although the end user plays a part it’s fundamentally out of our control. The greenhouse gases which have kept the earth’s climate habitable are now incredibly out of balance. Every sector from manufacturing to agriculture and from transportation to power production is culpable.
The impact of global warming is very real. Extreme weather, melting ice caps, the extinction of plants and animals are just a few of the consequences. There is an almighty apocalyptic crisis looming and our children – the ones who are the least responsible for climate change – will be the ones who will shoulder the burden.
And it’s now these kids who are standing up and shouting the loudest. Kids like Greta Thunberg who at 15 has become an outspoken activist and encouraged youngsters to stand up and be counted by joining school strikes throughout the world with her FridaysforFuture campaign. The Swedish teen is urging world leaders to act immediately: “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. Act as if the house is on fire – because it is.”
Then there’s young American Kelsey Juliana. In 2015 at the age of 19 she took on the US government. Juliana joined 20 other youngsters to file a law suit against the US government now known as Juliana v. The United States. A court hearing was recently held to decide whether these young people actually have constitutional rights to be protected from climate change and whether the case has enough legal merit to go to trial.
I take my eco-friendly hat off to these kids. They are battling against a power and money hungry institution which is refusing to look at the bigger picture. The issue of global warming is not a chic new hippy trend. It’s been taunting us for the last 40 to 50 years and now it’s at crisis point. It’s at a sit up and take fucking notice point.
On the one hand it’s terribly sad that it takes our children to fight a battle they didn’t even create. That they have to spend their childhood attempting to fix the mistakes of bad management. On the other hand at least they are fighting.
So let’s help them. Let’s reduce our own carbon footprint. Every little bit helps whether you install solar panels or cut down on plastic. I know it’s hard. Some days I’m on a mission like an eco superhero in a hemp sarong armed with a vegan cookbook. Other days I’m just so swamped with palpable parenting problems that climate change and general day to day issues somehow fail to harmoniously co-exist. There’s a yawning chasm between composting and the PlayStation and tofu and chicken nuggets.
Fortunately wine comes in a glass bottle.