The rise of young environmental activists recently sparks more interest than ever.
You must have heard of 17-year-old Swedish Greta Thunberg, whose solo school strike set her delivering a speech on platforms as prestigious as parliaments, the United Nations (UN) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Her powerful influence gives rise to more environmental youth activists around the world carrying the same torch.
Among the rising names under 20 years old are Scottish Holly Gillibrand (15), Ugandan Leah Namugerwa (15), New Yorker Alexandria Villaseñor (15), Washingtonian Isra Hirsi (17), Mexican-born Xiye Bastida (18) and Zayne Cowie (11).
These teenagers, who are supposed to be in school, put their focus on something that is usually identified as an adult business.
What it means to and for you
One of the messages written on the placard during an environmental protest caught our interest.
It says, “When leaders act like kids, the kids become leaders.”
The rise of these young environmental activists shows that the adult world leaders today are so incompetent and self-centric such that the kids themselves have to fight for the world in which they will have live in the future.
“We have done our homework, and they have not.” – Greta Thunberg
“What is the point of studying for a future that, if nothing is done, we might not have?” – Holly Gillibrand
Contrary to popular belief, you should realise that you don’t have to submit to whatever wrongdoings and corruption besetting the world just because you are still a youth.
Standing for what is right should involve youths.
If our adult leaders do not care anymore, someone has to. Who else will step up, if not you?
To follow their path and spread the awareness further, we listed three core steps for youths like you to take henceforth:
1. Make use of the power of social media.
Way before 2018, Thunberg has been standing up for the cause. She made her family reduce their carbon footprint. She won a climate change essay competition.
However, her move did not take the world by storm until when she carried a three-week school strike for climate.
The pushing factor was her photo of the strike posted on Instagram and Twitter, which coverage eventually amplified, thanks to other high-profile youth activists and bodies.
As a result, Thunberg’s action managed to attract local reporters and international coverage only about a week after.
For activism in any field, massive public support is the key. The authorities will only care about you or your cause if your action went viral.
In the world today, social media serves that purpose best due to the nature of its rapid and globalised coverage, ease of access and the engaging mode of communication.
There is also a significantly less control by the restrictive authorities on social media.
Next, you can also see how this step serves as a pillar to the others.
2. Gain youth followers.
Social media is where the youths spend most of their lives.
Quite unlike a lot of adults, youths like you have a powerful dream of creating a better world for all.
For you, politics should serve nothing but people’s current and future interests. The economic system should be fair, and society should uphold noble values.
You cannot stand people irresponsibly wrecking mother earth for wealth, that disasters occurred on the land and in the sea due to corrupt human doings.
Youths like you are out there on social media, regardless of how you actually spend your time there – online gaming, posting memes or liking cat videos.
Thunberg, for instance, already has 4.1 million and 10.4 million followers on her Twitter and Instagram, respectively.
These youths believe in the same principles as you do. By having them supporting your cause, you are amplifying your voices to reach and influence further.
Such is the new found power of youths.
3. Be genuine. Walk your talk.
People can distinguish whether you are doing something merely for fame, or for truth.
In today’s world full of talk, people are captivated by an impactful walk, no matter how small.
Any small initiative can snowball to more significant results, either in terms of awareness or solution.
That preference is more so true for youths like you, who are sick and tired of bogus promises by adult leaders for years and decades.
You can see that rather than preaches, both stories and actions receive more support from the youths on social media.
You can begin by understanding and assessing the root problems that lead to climate crises. Then, you can think creatively to provide solutions or initiatives that work regardless of scale.
With mother nature getting sicker by the day, the world now needs the youth energy to step up the action more than ever.
Honestly, you do not have to be Greta Thunberg at all to carry the torch of environmental activism.
You only have to be you.