The children of today are way better than you ever were. Face it: at 16, you were probably smoking weed and trying to work out how to secretly wank at sleepovers, while today’s teens are skipping school in masses to protest climate change, already hate Michael Gove and actually know what an “interglacial period” is. Sixteen!
Today, record numbers of school children around the world took part in Fridays for Future climate change marches, calling on the people in power to get their shit together about the future of our planet. At the protest in London, kids with banners and braces chanted, “Whose future? Our future! Whose planet? Our planet!”, stopped traffic and passionately waved placards in the hot May sun.
We spoke to them about why they care about the climate crisis – and why you should too.
“I just hate the fact that our planet is dying and that nothing is being done about it. There's plastic polluting our oceans, they're killing the animals, our global temperature is going up. You can see from our summer and our winter that it's just changed massively. I was talking to my mum the other day and I said to her, ‘I don't want to die from climate change! I want to die of old age.’ Something really needs to be done now, because there are too many big corporations doing not a lot.”
“Why do I care about the climate? I don't like dying. [I'm most worried about] sea levels rising. The loss to biodiversity is a big thing. There's just so much wildlife out there, and if we lose that, it just seems selfish. It just seems stupid that one of the biggest catastrophes on the planet won’t be caused by some massive cosmic event, [but] it will be caused by some stupid humans who are just messing about and not really worrying about what they should be doing.”
“I care about the planet because I want my children to enjoy the same stuff that I've been able to. Clean beaches, beautiful trees, wildlife. Also, my family live in South America, so I want my family to be able to go to Colombia and enjoy it in the way I enjoy it, and not as a wasteland that's been having its resources and its oil snatched from it. All of South America – especially the Amazon forest – palm oil and all of that is just taking the life out of the continent. I think that's a really serious issue.”
“I just think it's our responsibility as the future generations to do as much as we can, because corporations are emitting loads of fossil fuels and adding to the problem, and there are ways to develop a lot more sustainably and it's our responsibility to show that it's a big problem. If we don't change we, er, are going to die, basically.”
“I care just because the planet is dying and we don't have a lot of time left, and if we don't do something fast then, yeah, we're gonna die.”
“I care about all of the animals. Our future generations aren't going to know what they are or what they did, because they're not going to be here, and everything in the ocean and all the ice caps that are melting … it's just stupid that there's not enough going on about it. [She points to the toy monkey hanging around her neck] Save the orangutans!”
“I'm really into science, and through my knowledge of science, it's started to worry me how much things are changing on the planet. I get that we're in an interglacial period and that temperatures do rise, but people who deny global warming … it's a big problem for me because the rate at which temperatures are rising is not normal. If we look at all of the past interglacial periods, the rate at which our temperature is rising is scary.
I get AirText messages [a pollution forecast service], and in the last few weeks, I've had messages every single day saying there's moderate pollution and people with health problems shouldn't go outside. Things like that worry me.
I've been veggie for about two months and it's really important to us because obviously, cattle ranching is such a problem with deforestation in South America. I feel like people don't understand. They say, ‘Well, they're still going to kill the cows and they're still going to kill the pigs,’ but if we reduce the demand, then they have to reply to that, and they have to reduce the amount they're creating. Therefore less deforestation. It's only a small thing. It's like the same thing as water bottles. If everyone says, ‘Oh i'll just toss it in, it's just one bottle,’ then if everyone does it, there's millions and millions of bottles going into the sea. If we all just do one thing to change then it makes such a big difference.”
“The government is saying they're doing stuff, but they've not really done anything. They focus on the plastic, but there's so much more other than plastic, and that's all everyone seems to be focusing on. Of course, plastic is a really bad issue, but things like fast-fashion, planes, any pollution stuff, the factories in other countries that are polluting the river and people can't drink out of the rivers. We're in a mass extinction. So many animals are dying. It's insane, and no one seems to be talking about it. Other than people our age which I just don't think that's right.”