Earlier this summer, our federal politicians held a Climate Action Town Hall Meeting in my small, rural community of Rossland, British Columbia. Doing my part to fill the hall and send a strong message to the Canadian capital, I attended the meeting with my husband, Tim, and 10-year-old twin sons, Oliver & Spencer.
Both my boys were engaged in the experience and suitably horrified by the climate change statistics presented, specifically the fact that global temperatures have risen 1.6°C/35°F in Canada since 1880 (compared to an average of 0.85°C across the globe). None of this came as a surprise to them, however. Our province was devastated by forest fires last summer and I am unapologetically trying to raise activists that are aware of their impact on the environment.
What did come as a surprise was the fact that so few children and young adults attended the meeting. And when it came time for the audience to present ideas on how to meet our commitment to the Paris agreement, not one person under the age of forty spoke up.
It made me wonder whether the next generation is being raised in a world where climate change is a given. Are we “activists” guilty of talking about the potential consequences of global warming ad nauseam without actually taking much action?
When asked for out-of-the-box solutions, all my sons could come up with were the conventional ideas—electric cars, plant based diets, renewable energy—that have been on the table for years but still not fully executed. To keep the global temperature rise under 2°C and reverse the affects of climate change we are going to have to do more.
This is one of the many reasons why I feel so passionate about Authors for Earth Day. Not only does it give young people a new way of thinking about their environment and the challenge of protecting our planet, it introduces them to groups that are taking action and provides them with the opportunity to make choices and participate.
Addressing climate change is all about the next generation. But it’s up to this generation to lead by example and raise activists who are actually willing to take action. My thanks to all the authors, host schools and libraries that are doing their part to make that happen.
Yolanda Ridge is the acclaimed author of three middle grade novels. She is also the Eco-Book of the Month co-director for Authors for Earth Day. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hiking, biking or skiing in the mountains with her family. Learn about her books at www.yolandaridge.com.