ELEVENTH HOUR: One generation in a vanishing world

Published August 11, 2022, 5:55 PM

by Climate Reality Project Philippines

Do I make a difference? Does what I do even matter in the kind of world we live in today?

Reading the news nowadays can feel like an endless scroll of grief—of health emergencies, calamities, impunity-fueled violence, corruption, and all-around chaos. All the while, the Earth hurtles toward its thresholds.

This year, we marked the earliest ever Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humanity’s demand for resources exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in that year. The clock is counting down for us, but instead of racing toward a better reality, humanity is racing toward its early grave.

Has it not always been this way, though? Every decade feels like the worst, yet here we still stand. Humans are survivors and when the hour seems most dire, we somehow find a way to pull through.

We are now in that dire hour. We are set to surpass 1.5°C of warming—the turning point for many of the natural systems that sustain us—in the next two decades. When there is overwhelming noise from the many crises at home, it is easy to ignore the sound of the gas leaking until we suddenly find ourselves choking on the fire’s smoke.

What if we listened? What if we cut through the noise, cared more, and came together to save our one home? We have not come this far only to get this far. There must be a redemption arc waiting for us but how do we achieve it? How do we secure a livable world for all?

To change everything, we need everyone. We need intergenerational solidarity.

People across all age groups have been and are still doing the best they can to address the climate crisis. Some have been in the fight since the climate and environmental movement started decades ago—climate veterans who shaped the movement into what it is today.

We have diplomats who participated in climate negotiations and intergovernmental discussions, such as Christiana Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) who helped broker the Paris Agreement in 2015. Here in the Philippines, we have Atty. Antonio Oposa who fought for the rights of children to a healthy environment.

Of course, climate change is not only fought through legal and judicial matters. Through providing zero-waste products that are accessible and affordable, our everyday heroes such as Kate Galido of Back to Basics Ecostore and Aimee Oliveros of RE-Store MNL exemplify that everything we do in our day-to-day counts.

Equipped with energy, passion, creativity, and endless hope, today’s generation of youth has continued and multiplied these actions. Despite being the least responsible for this crisis, young people have recognized their duty to ensure the future they will pass on to the next generations is better than the one they are currently living through.

We have witnessed young people in climate action. Climate activists from Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) and Youth Strike for Climate Philippines, among other groups, have been demanding genuine solutions from people in power and climate justice for the most affected. Youth-led organizations like Kids for Kids and For the Future have also been at the frontlines of supporting vulnerable communities.

There are no small roles. Each generation acting in its full potential is key to securing a livable world. Older generations hold the wisdom of experience while the youth hold the wisdom of conviction. We must act in unison because a fossil fuel-free, low-emissions, and resilient world is something we can only achieve together. We must stop perpetuating outdated prejudices and stereotypes.

We must recognize instead that when we break the barriers that divide us and come together for a world and a future we can be proud of, we will become unstoppable, and so is the change we want to happen. There are no boomers, millennials, or Gen Z’s in a vanishing Earth. To save ourselves in the world we know and love today, we must be one: the generation that acted on climate—the generation that fought and won.

We must be clear: our time is running out and we cannot afford to keep climate change at the end of our long list of crises. We need fast-tracked and scaled-up action to prevent the worst of the climate impacts billions are already suffering from today. We’re in the endgame now, but we know, shoulder to shoulder, we can do this all day. We can keep fighting together until we finally achieve a better reality for all.

About the authors

Danielle Madriaga is one of the Youth Coordinators of Climate Reality Philippines, head of its Writers Pool, and project co-lead for What’s SUP. She also belongs to the Sustainable Industries Cluster of Climate Reality Philippines, being a civil engineer and green building professional. She considers herself a frustrated writer with journalism as her first love.

Keith Sigfred Ancheta is a climate wonderer, budding climate communicator, and stubborn optimist. He currently volunteers as Youth Cluster Coordinator of Climate Reality Philippines, leading the Project Niche Campaign. Outside Climate Reality, he is a licensed teacher and a full-time MSc Microbiology student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. His advocacies include transformative climate education, meaningful youth participation, and inclusive climate policymaking.

 
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