If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “what are you going to do with your degree?” I’d probably have enough to pay for my entire bachelor’s degree. It’s a question that strikes fear into my heart, but not because I’m worried about my career path — I’m scared because it makes me think about the future. When I think about the future, I can’t help but think about the worldwide devastation predicted to occur because of climate change. It’s hard to think about finding a job as a biodiversity researcher when there might not be any biodiversity left to research.
From natural disasters and extreme temperatures to decreasing food security and water shortages, we all have reasons to be anxious about the future beyond just passing our courses and finding a job after graduation. Climate change can be so overwhelming that it often feels easier to find ways to distract ourselves and ignore it, just to continue functioning without having daily nervous breakdowns. Besides, how could a few anxious students possibly change the systems which are causing this problem in the first place?
The good news is that if you relate to these feelings of climate anxiety, chances are a lot of others do too. Although we all may notice different aspects of climate change and feel and express our anxiety in different ways, we all see unchecked colonialism, capitalism, and industrial expansion damaging our home planet. Holding this as a commonality may seem bleak. But coming together with the realization that we are not alone in our worries gives us collective power to fight for a better future.
We need governments to take immediate action towards net zero carbon emissions. One way to make this happen is by voting for candidates that have shown themselves to be climate champions in the federal election on October 21. Young people aged 18-38 are going to be the largest voting demographic in this election. We have the collective power not only to vote in candidates who care about protecting our future, but to hold them accountable and make them stick to their promises.
But voting is only the first step. Indigenous people around the world have been fighting for decades to protect their land, water, and air. Starting last year, students have been striking on Fridays to demand climate action from their governments. As part of a global week of climate action, this Friday, September 27, students at the U of A will be walking out of classes at 11:30 a.m. and meeting in the main quad. We’ll then march to the Legislature grounds to meet up and rally with other groups from around the city.
This climate strike is a historic opportunity to show our government that we are a force to be reckoned with, and that we won’t back down until we know that the future of the planet is being taken seriously. Each and every one of us has an important role to play in making the strike a success. You should join me in striking for climate action, for a better future for everyone.