Youth Voice – What is our future?

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IN 11 years, global warming will be irreversible according to researchers. Are we driving the climate change message enough?

I watch the news daily and climate change is only occasionally featured, yet it is the main issue of this century. Climate change should be the leading headline every night because we only have 11 years to limit climate change. 11 years to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Friday, March 15 saw students protesting up and down the country against climate change. This would have been the headline news that day if it weren’t for the darkest day in New Zealand history, the Christchurch mosque attacks.

The awful atrocities of that day were, quite rightly, the only news to feature that day.

Fifty people were killed, and many more injured. New Zealand was shocked to the core. Within a week, Jacinda Ardern, our prime minister had implemented new gun laws, and change was under way.

But what about climate change? 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, and it is human induced.

With the current climate, we have higher chances of drought, extreme heat, ice-free seas, decline in coral reefs just to mention a few.

This will result in the loss of land, food, animals and people. Insects will lose their habitats.

When is the Government going to take swift action – as they have proved they can – to save the whole of New Zealand from extinction?

By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Will we be able to go fishing, and catch fish with all the plastic, the rising sea levels and temperatures?

Will we catch fish or just plastic? Will New Zealand’s first baby, Neve, ask her mother, “why didn’t you do something to change, so I can go fishing like Dad used to?”.

When tourists think of Aotearoa, they think of our clean, green country with clear waters.

But 62 percent of our monitored waterways are not fit for swimming.

New Zealand is one of the most deforested nations on Earth. Only 25 percent of our forests are left untouched, mostly on the West Coast of the South Island.

Aotearoa is becoming increasingly culturally diverse, it is our time to intertwine more of our traditional customs into today’s world.

Traditional Maori culture is a world leader in environmental processes and customs.

Kaitiakitanga, is a way of managing the environment and it aims to preserve our natural resources, our nuku, our awa, our moana, our ngahere and all that lives in it and on it.

An example is a fishing rahui which allows fish stocks to grow again and replenish. Without this type of custom, fish species could become endangered, or extinct.

We need to remind current generations of the past and integrate those traditional customs into today’s society.

We need to change our habits; and that starts with me, with you, with all of us.

It is no longer acceptable to “just hope” that our environment will survive; we need action, and we need it now.

We need you to take action, we need our peers, our councils, our politicians, our industries, our government to take action, and we need it now.

Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate change agreement.

The US is the highest source of historical emissions. A Brazilian presidential candidate has threatened to turn the abundant rainforests into agribusiness. 11 years is all the time we have. This action needs to start now.

Together we can make change.

This is our home and we should be safe here.

Letisha White
Opotiki College