OPINION: An environmental activist warns of ecological collapse

"You say that you love your children above everything else. And yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes."
"You say that you love your children above everything else. And yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes."

"You say that you love your children above everything else. And yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes." 

These are the words of 16-year-old schoolgirl, and climate activist, Greta Thunberg. She was addressing the U.N. leaders in Katowice, Poland, but she might as well have been speaking to us. 

Imagine it was your 16-year-old saying this to you. How would you respond?

Would you be able to say that you are doing everything you possibly can to save them from spending the rest of their lives living in a post-apocalyptic world?

I have a 16-year-old daughter. And a 21-year-old, and a 13-year-old. I love them more than life and I would do anything to protect them.  

As an environmental activist for more than 20 years, I vaguely considered myself well-informed. I've known about climate change for a long time. It seemed like a problem which we still had plenty of time to solve.

Climate change sounds slow and almost like a natural process, doesn't it? And with talk of slowing CO2 emissions by 2050, it seemed like we had plenty of time.  

When the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report came out last year, it was alarming enough that many more people started taking notice. When scientists start to use scary language, its time for us all to pay attention. 

Also see: Does having children make us care more about the environment?

We are now talking about climate breakdown

We are now talking about climate breakdown and ecological collapse. Let that sink in for a moment. We are no longer talking about a slight temperature increase, and maybe some more storms and droughts. We are talking about climate chaos of a biblical nature.

We have emitted so much CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and have destroyed our Earth's natural systems to such an extent, that we are now facing the very real threat of human extinction within the lifetime of our children.  

I'm sorry to scare you like this.

But you cannot go back to watching Netflix and hoping that this will all go away. Technology will not save us. We cannot leave this planet to go live on a space station. This one Earth is all we have and she is dying. Don't take my world for it. Google "climate breakdown" and see for yourself.  

Read just enough. Be gentle with yourself. Breathe. It's a lot to take in. If you were unsure about Climate Breakdown previously, don't let the enormity of it scare you from denial straight into despair. Don't go from "It's not real" to "It's too late". Don't give up hope. Action is the best antidote to despair. We need you! Your children's very lives are at stake. 

Grieve if you need to

This might take a while. I find myself crying often. I feel sad that I might never have grandchildren. I wonder if I should take photos of the insects in our garden now, just to remind myself of them later. I worry about the fish living on the dying coral reefs. I wonder if I should start stockpiling medicines. I am not prepared for the world we might be living in should we fail. It's so hard to imagine that we might lose all of this, isn't it? Yet, we could and we will if we don't act now.

This is the endgame. 

I joined Extinction Rebellion because I believe that this is our last and only chance of saving our world, saving ourselves, saving our children. When things are so out of control (have you read about tipping points and feedback loops?), when our very civilisation is at stake, when there is a very real possibility of human extinction (Google "Deep Adaptation"), don't we owe it to our children to fight back?  

Also read: These teens and young adults want their day in court on climate change

Our leaders have failed us

They have been listening to the wrong people and have been making too many bad decisions for too long, with potentially fatal consequences. If our government is no longer keeping us safe, the "social contract" is broken and the rules don't apply any more.

The only moral response to this breach of contract is for us to rebel. We have a duty and a responsibility to stand up and fight for the lives of our children. And for the children of those who contributed so little to climate breakdown, yet are exposed to the worst of its effects already. 

This is where Extinction Rebellion comes in.

This is an emergency and it needs an emergency response — think war-time efforts. We are on the brink of an apocalypse. We need to act now before it's too late. 

Extinction Rebellion is not an organisation. It is a movement. It has grown out of a fierce love for our planet and all its children. And it needs all of us.  

When your children ask you one day why you stood by and watched their world being destroyed, what will you say? I hope that you will be able to say that you fought with everything you had to save and protect this precious world. We all know that there's nothing as fierce as a parent protecting their child.

So, what are you waiting for? Stand up. Fight back. 

Find your local group here.

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Read more:

Green family: 5 ways to get your kids excited about recycling

Green family part 2: Saying no to plastic bags

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