“Coming up here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election, or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come . . . We hear of animals and plants going extinct every day, vanishing forever . . . Did you have to worry of these things when you were my age? All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realize, neither do you. If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it . . . At school . . . you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others and to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures; to share, not be greedy. Then, why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do? Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying: ‘Everything is going to be all right, it’s not the end of the world, and we are doing the best we can.’ But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities?”

Reading the above lines would make you think they came from Greta Thunberg or one of today’s young climate activists. Yes, it came from a young person but spoken more than 27 years ago, by the then 12-year-old Canadian Severn Cullis-Suzuki at the plenary session of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and was attended by 109 heads of state. Severn Cullis-Suzuki became known as “the girl who silenced the world for five minutes.” People were stung by her sincere and brave words. Imagine if the world had listened then. Climate disasters would have been averted, hundreds of thousands of animal and plant species would not have gone extinct. Thousands of lives would not have been snuffed out. But the world did not listen. They simply ignored her and the calls of Rio Earth Summit. In fact, more carbon dioxide was pumped into the atmosphere in the years since the Rio Summit than in all the years prior to it.

Now Greta and the thousands of young climate strikers could not be so easily sidelined. They are making headlines and many adults have joined them. In the Sept. 20 Global Climate Strike more than 4 million people in 4,500 sites all over the earth heeded the calls of the kids and joined the climate strike. More climate actions are being planned.

Since the kids can no longer be ignored, they discredit them. They call them puppets of those who want to wreak havoc in the world. These climate change deniers want things to run as it is now. Precisely this is the call of all concerned people. It cannot be business as usual! The world as it is running now is heading to a precipice. “Business as usual” is wreaking havoc to our one common home! Don’t they see this? The kids are more perceptive. They are wiser, and they are acting. Let us listen to them. To paraphrase Psalm 8: “With the mouths of babes and infants you shame the wicked and the rebels.”

Broderick Pabillo
October 17, 2019