A young school-going climate activist who is deeply involved with the September strikes for action against climate change in India has a few things to say to us adults.
We haven’t realized that in our quest to follow misguided ideals of development and becoming a 5 trillion dollar economy, we have turned into death mongers raging a war on the very natural world and biodiversity that has nurtured and ensured our survival for so long! Development does not only mean industrial and financial progress, it means that health, equality, the economic status of citizens and the environment are at a phenomenal standard! How can India become a developed nation when its citizens are choking due to respiratory problems caused by air pollution, its rivers are flowing poison and plastic instead of life-giving water and its protected forest areas are harboring mines and coal plants rather than trees and animals? We cannot solve an economic crisis by starting an environmental one! We cannot disturb a millennia-old natural ecological system on this planet and expect no repercussions! We have degraded ourselves to such a point that we agree to live in a society that justifies murder with economic profits, an economy that values coal plants over the lives of its citizens, companies that sell our future for net worth and policies that unthinkingly use up our carbon budgets and even those of the weaker sections of society dependent on us!
I speak for every child of India. We have come to a point where breathing air is making us sick. Air, which is supposed to be the nectar of life, is now challenging our very existence on earth. Climate change is happening all around us and we know it. Denying or ignoring this crisis for years has only made us lose valuable time and us kids can now see the present situation as the beginning of the end. I want the policy and decision-makers to take note that the time for action is now. Don’t leave behind a planet where your kids cannot survive and risk turning it into a barren planet that is not worth saving! We must take action now and hold the policymakers and companies accountable before we have to replace our pollution mouth masks with oxygen masks! My home, my city – New Delhi is set to join the list of Indian cities to have no groundwater by 2020.
The climate crisis is not elitist; it is a human rights crisis of the greatest order. People are being denied their right to clean air and water. Very soon, climate change refugees will flood the world! The poor in my country walk kilometers to fill a single bucket of water from a dying pump. And yet, we support policies that degrade our home and cause the gap between the poor and rich – the haves and have nots to widen drastically. 600 million people are at risk from the water crisis and 700 million from air pollution! I have already lost around 3-5 years of my life to air pollution. In short, we children are paying for the wrongs of the past generations!
If little children, can understand how grave the situation is and what the solutions are, I find it funny that the adults cannot. We already have all the solutions as we have the science, facts and figures we need, but we lack the will, mindset and compassion to go with it. It is shameful; that we children have to tell policymakers how to save the planet, beg leaders to secure our future and miss school to educate them on this crisis! I request you all to come and take part in the Global Climate Strike, which is happening on 20th September 2019, a few days before the United Nations Climate Action Summit. In Delhi, we are going to march from Lodhi Garden to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on 20th September from 3p.m. to 6p.m.
Feature Image Credits: News18