When I was sixteen years old, my list of concerns about the future revolved around a few key things. What career was I going to have? How would my relationships change over the years? Were One Direction really never getting back together!? Climate change was not on the list.
But in the several years that have passed since I was sixteen, climate change has made its way into the forefront of the minds of young people around the world. And now, as a student in my twenties, the fate of our shared planet is certainly close to the top of my list of concerns about the future, impacting the way I think about my career, my relationships, and even the mundanities of everyday life.
School students protesting climate change at Parliament House in Adelaide.
I am not alone in holding these concerns. Recent research shows that young women are extremely concerned about the issue of climate change, with 22 per cent of women in their thirties reconsidering having children because of climate change.
Our warming planet is affecting our futures now. But the kids are not keeping quiet. Young people everywhere are speaking up for their planet and their futures.
Sixteen year old Greta Thunberg is the powerhouse Swedish teenager whose climate change activism has sparked a worldwide movement of young people striking from school in order to call on their national leaders to act on climate change. On the 15th of March, young people around the world will take up this call to action.
How will you participate?
School students: seriously consider organising, or taking part in the strike in your city. Everyone else: you are invited to attend in solidarity.
Parents, teachers and academics: you are invited to sign an open letter of support.
Churches should be part of this movement as well. If you have a Friday kids or youth club, use Friday March 15th to listen to the concerns your young people have about climate change. Listen to their anxiety about the ways the environment will change drastically within their lifetime.
Pray together. Lament together. Speak up and ACT together.
It is right for young people, indeed for all of us, to be concerned. Our fear is not misplaced. But we must find ways to act in hope, holding fast to the promise that God is ever-present, and delights in answering our prayers.
To everyone who cares about a safe climate future, the time to speak up has arrived. In the words of ‘School Strike 4 Climate’, young people are “standing up when our politicians won’t”. Will you join them?
Ally Neale is a member of Common Grace's Climate Justice Team and is a Law and Development Studies student at Macquarie University.