By: Dania Ahmed
Youth are more than often referred to as the future of the world, which makes the actions of youth today critical when determining what the planet will look like decades from now. The climate change crisis is growing at an alarming rate, and the responsibility to manage this catastrophe is falling onto the youth. Youth climate activism is a growing movement, and in my first year of university at the University of Toronto St.George campus, I had the pleasure of engaging in a multitude of activities tied with Global Climate Strike Week.
Firstly, on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 my colleague and I attended the ‘Weather Amnesia’ art exhibition at the Jackman Humanities Institute. The exhibit was primarily centered around climate control and with the advancements of globalization, migrations, and unpredictability of weather patterns, the focus was to draw awareness to the alarming degradation of the planet taking place. We were enticed to visit this exhibit because of its connection to the climate crisis and were curious to see it represented in art. In the exhibit description it is stated, “The artists’ works included in Weather Amnesia offer visual insight into the profound disruptions that are under way. With strangeness becoming the new normal, the exhibition makes us wonder and think about what kind of future awaits us.” (Jackman Humanities Institute) Overall, the exhibition did not disappoint, and I came across many pieces that captured the essence of global warming in the eyes of the artists. My favourite piece was one on bird migration, as scientists are predicting major shifts in bird migrations across the globe due to climate change. I was unaware of this fact until I visited the exhibition and was able to experiment with a live bird migration map.
Coincidentally, I witnessed a news segment in regards to the concern over the birds on the Weather Network the next day. I became quite concerned over the repetitive warnings on the state of birds and intend on conducting more research in this area. Overall, I enjoyed this event and was pleasantly surprised to be in a room of people discussing the current crisis and how in its essence, the art was able to capture this issue.
In the spirit of global climate strike week, and in a rush of inspiration from Greta Thunberg I was prompted to write and mail a handwritten letter to Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton urging him to take action against global warming. I wrote this letter on behalf of my entire household and recognize he may never even receive the letter, but I don’t believe any action is too small of an action.
Due to scheduling conflicts, I was unable to attend many climate strike events on campus but realized that this was an opportunity to not only increase my own knowledge on the environmental calamity but educate my family on it as well. I debated the crisis with my family and urged them to vote for the Green Party, as the current representation is not taking environmental concerns seriously, and the severity of the crisis is only growing. This prompted my father to remind our family that our recycling is a catastrophe and that we need to start adhering to the rules prescribed by the ministry. My family is now much more conscious with what we put to waste, and how we do so. I was also able to convince my aunt to vote for the Green Party as well, as she was unhappy with current representation and the inactiveness on the climate change crisis was the last straw for her.
On Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 I also had the opportunity to help clean up Queen’s Park with UofT’s MEDLife group. This was a quite fulfilling experience, as I more than often disregard the trash around me. I am unable to recall the last time I picked up a piece of litter that was not mine, and so this activity served as a prominent reminder that keeping the earth clean is every citizen’s responsibility – whether it is your litter or not, it does not hurt to pick it up, nor does it take much time either. In conclusion, after participating in some climate change activities, I felt quite liberated and more in control of my own actions towards climate change. Which is why I intend on continuing to participate in these activities and get my family involved as well. There are many future events I had scouted and plan on participating in, which is something I cannot wait to continue with in post-Covid times.