Fridays for Our Future (and not for Fame)

This is the transcript of a speech I gave in an English class oratorical competition, about the #FridaysforFuture movement.

James Cook discovering Nootka Sound. Germany invading then-Czechoslovakia. The registration of the first Internet domain name.

What do these events have in common?

They all happened on March 15th.

Friday, March 15th, 2019. 1.5 million students on every continent attended climate strikes, to protest government inaction on climate change.

Everything started last year on August 20th, when Greta Thunberg, a fifteen-year old student, skipped school to sit in front of the Swedish parliament and demand that they abide by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Since then, she’s been joined each Friday by students around the world, and has spoken to representatives of more than twenty countries.

When she was younger, Greta was confused as to why adults weren’t talking about this global emergency. Seven years later, and nothing has changed. We should be panicking … the climate crisis should be in all the headlines … but we’re not doing anything.

According to the World Bank, climate change will displace 150 million people, but climate refugees aren’t even recognized by any international institution. In order to permanently stay beneath a 2 degree warming target, which would still have devastating costs, more developed countries need to reduce their emissions by 15% every year. And even if those of us who are privileged do survive, those less developed countries will not. We need climate justice, to guarantee that everyone has an equitable chance to survive this crisis.

There’s an enormous gap between the tiny amount of control we have at school, and these terrifying predictions that scientists are making. It feels like there’s nothing we can do that will matter—recycling and eliminating plastic straws won’t stop deadly amounts of greenhouse gases from being released. We may as well keep worrying about our future, and wondering how we could have ever ended up here. The reality is, though, being afraid of what’s to come is a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop. I want us to use our fear and anger, and take control back by striking, and by holding politicians accountable.

May 3rd.

The first airplane landing in the North Pole. New Zealand becoming an independent colony. The first spam email sent.

Friday, May 3rd, 2019. An expected 2 million students will be attending climate strikes, to protest government inaction on climate change.

Our generation could start the biggest student movement in history. We will probably be far more famous than James Cook or a spam email. But this striking is for our future, not for fame, or bonus points, or our résumés. Unless we keep asking our governments to reduce emissions and mitigate the climate crisis, only a few of us will be in a place to celebrate.

• • •

Although today may be Earth Day, our planet warrants BIG and BOLD action every single day. Join us on May 3rd as we strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 1pm, or at a strike in Australia, the United States, or across the continents. You can find more information about the Canadian strikes here, and you can pledge to vote with a science-aligned climate plan in mind here and here.