By Michael Gardiner
We talked a lot about oil, we talked a lot about culture, we talked a lot about getting the message out, but mostly we talked about people. How people live, how they should live, and how those two ideas can come together. The answer was fairly similar to what I had heard before: the future lies with today’s youth.
Why is it important for youth to lead these changes? Past generations have grown up with the idea that they are small and the earth is large. For many, the Earth is this inexhaustible resource that they couldn’t possibly have any negative effect on. Fortunately, today’s youth have grown up in a world where technology has made the world a much smaller place. We can easily see how cutting down one acre of forest probably doesn’t have a huge impact on the environment, but it’s when entire countries rely on natural resources that grow slower than they are harvested that presents a problem.
We are a force of nature, five billion strong. And yet only a small portion of these five billion people understands what a greenhouse gas is, or why fossil fuels aren’t a long-term plan.
It is up to the youth of the world to change the current school of thought. It is important that we see that clear water and clean air come before money on our priority list. We have the most disposable income, and how we spend it will shape the market; if we chose organic and fair trade, then the system will make more organic and fair trade products. If we demand recycling programs in our schools, then they will be developed. If we learn to build with nature instead of on it, for example preserving bogs to stop flooding or preserving owl habitats to control rat populations, then we can learn to work with nature.
And as the youth of the world grow up, we will become the adults. We will hold the power and we will be making the decisions. My advice: never stop learning, always try to teach others what you have learned and don’t just speak, act. What you do matters. It’s never about one person. But if one person does something that’s a start, and if what that person is doing makes sense, people will follow. Every revolution, every movement, every idea in this world started with one person, and that person could be you.
If the youth of the world do this today, then in one generation we could reinvent society, stop climate change and preserve biodiversity. This is the power that you as a youth, or any person willing to learn has. It is only a matter using it.
By Michael Gardiner