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Becoming Inconvenient: Youth Activists Disrupting the Status Quo

It’s convenient for Big Oil and policymakers if we stay silent as we watch the climate crisis wreak havoc on the planet. We’re here to shake things up.

By Abbie Malloy |

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THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

For nearly all of history, society has revolved around making life convenient for those in power. We consume their products, run their companies, and live our lives in ways that keep them comfortable. It’s easy, breezy, and consistent – for the old and wealthy, at least.

There’s no better example of this than the fossil fuel industry. We’ve known for decades that fossil fuel use directly contributes to climate change.

But they’d like for us to keep it simple. It’s easy to keep using fossil fuels. It’s easy for them if we keep subsidizing their businesses. And it’s easiest if we keep up the status quo and keep our world revolving around their products (and profits).

Enter youth activists. With a new perspective and undeterrable passion, we’re ready to take on the challenge of our lifetimes. With fresh eyes and an abundance of information (thank you, internet), we’re not satisfied with how our world currently operates. From a young age, we’ve been aware of the racial injustices, wealth inequalities, and social justice issues that generation after generation has suffered through quietly.

But, luckily for the rest of the world, we’ve had enough.

WHY YOUTH VOICES MATTER

It’s often our youngest generations that provide our best chance at a better future. Most policy conversations are still happening amongst Boomers, but every so often youth activists like Greta Thunberg catch an invite to scold adults on what they already know: our world is changing, and they’re refusing to do anything about it.

We’re not just mobilizing for fun. Young people today are acutely aware that the moral failings of older generations worsen the climate crisis, and that they won’t be around to see the full impact of their failures.

The rich and powerful are still somewhat exempt from the worst of the climate crisis. It’s our more vulnerable populations, like those in low-income and BIPOC communities, who are already facing devastation. The children growing up in these environments can see what the future will be like across the world, and they’re ready to do something about it – even if people in power won’t.

Currently, there are 1.8 billion people ages 10-24 worldwide – the largest generation in history. We’re tech savvy, informed, innovative, and already stepping up to the challenge of tackling the climate crisis.

Soon, we’ll step into our roles as future world leaders.

BECOMING INCONVENIENT

Until then, it’s our job to continue to be inconvenient. Becoming the “problem child” is no longer about being a brat – it’s about disrupting generational patterns that led us to where we are today (read: on the brink of disaster).

Across every movement there’s a complaint from the top that this is how things have always been, and their way of life is under attack. White and wealthy people are often those standing in the way of cultural resets like Black Lives Matter or the #MeToo movement – unsurprisingly, since they’re less likely to be impacted or all too frequently the perpetrators.

It’s not convenient for them to change their behavior or “be more PC.” Keeping the planet livable in the long-term doesn’t need to be top of mind. It’s convenient to keep things the same for generations who won’t see the harm they’ve caused. And it’s convenient for Big Oil to rake in billions in profits not just every year, but every quarter.

The only way to make a change is to challenge the norm. Our version of normal (the kind where our most vulnerable communities disproportionately bear the consequences of our actions) isn’t sustainable. It ends with catastrophic climate impacts ripping “normal” out from under our feet.

If we know one thing, it’s that older generations won’t act on their own. They’ve had their entire lifetimes to do it themselves. But the clock is running out, and younger generations are ready to cause a scene.

READY TO GET INVOLVED?

Above all, we need to be in this together. That’s why Climate Reality is rebooting our youth-focused Instagram, Inconvenient Youth.

We want you to have a space and community of like-minded activists who aren’t comfortable with the way things are. We’ll give you the tools you’ll need to become the activist your grandmother worried you might be. It’s a page to gain knowledge, build your network, get involved, and commiserate with a meme or two.

We can’t tackle the climate crisis alone, and during fights like these a community of activists can be your support, motivation, and accountability system. Give @inconvenient_youth a follow to keep up with all things climate and learn more about what others in the youth climate space are doing and how you can help.

On our page, you can also learn all about Climate Reality’s Campus Corps program, offering an opportunity for college students to receive guidance from our staff on building campaigns and organizing fellow students. No one can tackle the climate crisis alone.

So, forget your manners. Become the climate champions and problem children you were meant to be. And above all, don’t let us go down without a fight.