Feature of the week: Ludo, our Earth Guardian Crew Leader in New Zealand

Kia Ora, my name is Ludo.

Thank you to every one of you who has taken time away from school, work and your daily life for this strike.  What we strike for today is incredibly important, for me the climate crisis is the biggest external issue we face in the 21st century.  Yet people always tell me the climate crisis is not important enough for a day away from school or work, or they’re simply not motivated enough to make changes in their life. I understand, it’s something we all struggle with, yet how does anything else matter when the world is burning?

In the society we live in it is difficult to not damage the environment simply by existing. However, everything you are passionate about will soon end unless the world changes, so how can we not be passionate about the wellbeing of the environment?  We are currently in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, species are dying 1,000 times faster than they should be. At this rate we are likely to lose 30 to 50 percent of all living species within this century. 30 football fields worth of trees are being logged and burnt every single minute. In a situation so desperate why is the world not panicking? Why are our governments not declaring and acting on this unprecedented global emergency? It’s not just the Amazon burning, the Pacific islands are not the only places flooding, the entire world is being damaged by this crisis. We are not the only species threatened, every species is at risk in this crisis. Will we still be so nonchalant and composed when the seas are lapping at our doorsteps, when the fires are burning our homes, will we still be in a state of inaction when our children starve and cry out for a just climate?

We are battling the effects and causes of the climate crisis and currently we are not doing enough. Politics are failing us as are the businesses and companies that supply us with clothing, fuel, food and even water.  So in the face of this immense crisis, what can we do?

The perfect example lies in the reason the world is striking today.  The School Strike for Climate began with 15 year old Greta Thunberg. Every Friday, Greta stood outside Swedish Parliament protesting against the inaction of her government on the climate crisis. She stood as an individual for a cause she believed in. One year later millions strike with Greta all over the world. Greta’s actions send a clear message: the power of individual action should not be underestimated, regardless of age. The crisis can no longer be ignored when we take to the streets and demand climate justice.

I’m a big believer of our power together. Together we can end this crisis. To make real change in your life consider the food you eat, consider the clothes you wear and consider the transport you use. Agriculture leads the way in being the world’s largest polluter of clean water followed by textile dyeing. Most clothes have chemicals in them that are not only bad for the environment but also disrupt our hormones and are carcinogenic. On top of this, it takes 20,000 liters of water to produce a single t-shirt and a pair of jeans, that’s a huge amount for a single pair of clothes. Consider cutting meat out of your diet a couple times a week, or even becoming vegetarian or vegan. It sounds like a lot to ask but on the scale of world destruction, changing your diet is not much. Consider buying local and sustainable food, consider thrift shopping or buying sustainable clothing.

The average human eats one credit card worth of plastic a week. We brush our teeth with plastic, the food we eat has consumed plastic we put into their food source. These are all things we can individually change.We live in beautiful Golden Bay, New Zealand. People come here for the incredible natural environment, let’s not screw up our amazing home.  Individual change is important as it shows our leaders that we want change and we are willing to make change. However, the solution for this crisis will require systemic change, we need the leaders we chose to act now.  An example of a sustainable system is Bhutan. Bhutan is currently carbon negative, they use the most useful machine we have available to us in this crisis. Trees. Bhutan currently emits roughly 1.5 million tonnes of carbon a year while its forests absorb 6 million tonnes of carbon per year. Other than planting and looking after trees how does Bhutan do this? They measure their countries success on Gross National Happiness. Bhutan is rated the happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest country in the world, pointing to a strong correlation between environmental care and happiness. They prioritize their happiness and environments wellbeing over profit. Bhutan also uses renewable energy, they have minimal waste and have hundreds of electric vehicles being used. Bhutan sets a high benchmark for systematic change but it is very achievable.

Our leaders have the power to do this, it is up to us to demand that they do. As Greta Thunberg said “The politics that’s needed to prevent the climate catastrophe-it doesn’t exist today. We need to change the system, as if we were in a crisis, as if there was a war going on.

If we can’t change the crisis in our current political system, then our political system needs to change.  We need individual change and we need a system change right now. The paradigm needs to change and that change begins with us. We are currently involved in the largest climate strike that has taken place in the history of our world. Why has an emergency not been declared and acted on in this crisis? Why are some people still questioning why we strike? There are those who would prefer we stay at school rather than strike for our future. To that I say this. Educate yourself on the scientific consensus of the climate crisis. Take a few moments to look at the world and question why our environment is changing so rapidly. We go to school so we can have the best possible future. That future will not exist unless we make our voices heard and unless we make change now. Should it not only be our duty to fix this mess we’ve made but our duty to protect our planet and its inhabitants?  At a time like this the Lorax says it best: “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues”. I stand here today to speak for those who cannot. I speak for those who cannot yet vote and for those who will never be able to vote. The animals and trees we should be protecting do not have a say in their future, they do not get to choose leaders that will ensure them a safe future in this crisis. Until you can vote encourage those who can vote to vote for leaders interested in our future more than economic gain, sign petitions, keep striking and fight for your future. For those of you who can vote, use your vote wisely as the consequences will impact us all.  Today we strike for something bigger than ourselves, our actions as individuals and as a species in the next few days, months and years will decide the future of every animal, plant and object on this planet.

This is why today’s strike is not just for students, it is for everyone. United we rise to call on all children, parents, politicians, teachers and everyone else to work with us to create a world we can live in, a world we can pass onto future generations with pride. United we rise to act on this crisis.  The time for consideration of this crisis is gone.  We demand climate justice.  We demand action now.  We demand a future.”

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