This time last year I attended the Fridays for Future Climate Strike in Bozeman and joined millions around the world to call for action on climate change. My girls encouraged me to go. I'm a lawyer so protesting isn't something that I do regularly. But as I've mentioned before, I've been to more protests this year at the urging of my kids than in my entire life.
Climate Strike 2019. My daughter's poster reads "What I Stand for is What I Stand On."
Despite my work in environmental policy and climate change for the past 20 years and all the charts and graphs and scientific data I've reviewed, I could have never imagined what 2020 would bring. A global pandemic. A reckoning with systemic racism. Food insecurity. Economic insecurity. A record-setting hurricane season. A heatwave in the Arctic Circle. Devastating fires in Oregon and California.
The kids are not all right.
They anxious. They scared about the future. They are mad, too.
It's called "eco-anxiety," which the American Psychological Association defines as a "chronic fear of environmental doom."
Over the past year, there have been glowing articles about the passion, creativity, and fearlessness of Generation Z (kids born after 197). My kids are those things. The reality, though, is that they can't fix global warming. We're running out of time.
It's up to us.
We have to teach them to move from protest to policy and cultural change. We do this in daily conversations, at the ballot box, the city council, school board. We also vote with our wallet.
Poet Maggie Smith writes "the only recognizable feature of hope is action."
We must act.
Here are the top 3 things you can do:
First, get involved in this election.
Phone bank. Talk to your friends and family. Give money. Vote. Write an op-ed about the candidates you support and call out climate action is one of your reasons for support.
Second, learn about climate solutions.
Project Drawdown is a great place to start. Compost to reduce food waste. Call your utility company and ask about their renewable energy portfolio. Tell them you demand more clean energy. Ask your city manager about the community's sustainability plan. Talk about climate solutions at your place of worship.
Third, get smart on the biggest contributors to climate change and speak up to demand change.
Individual action absolutely matters to create necessary cultural change for the climate, but we can't bicycle our way out of climate change. Check out this report from The Guardian that details that 30% of all carbon emission are from these 20 companies. Write to them. Find out about shareholder actions here. Ask your college and university to divest. Look at your own portfolio and divest.
These simple concrete actions can create positive momentum for change.
According to Fridays for Future, more than 13 million people have protested for climate change solutions. You voice matters. We owe it to our kids and their kids to stand up and fight for a clean energy future.