A letter to all young Earth Keepers by Lydia Mogano
Truth be told, we live in world that is complex, rapidly changing and constantly flooded with information.
According to the 5th Assessment Report (2015), the current global greenhouse gas emissions rate will place the average surface temperature rise up to 4.8°C by 2100, compared to pre-industrial levels. Needless to say, the rapid loss of species is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate (WWF, 2016) and we are also informed that this planet could be hosting about 9 billion people by 2050. These are some of the key contributors of the rapid natural disasters we are experiencing today.
On the other hand, our generation (call it Y and Z if you like) has been greatly exposed to the age of rapid technological revolution, autonomy and arguably ushering in what others may call the 4th Industrial Revolution (a new age that uses technologies and artificial intelligence to fuse the physical, digital, and biological worlds).
However, at the same time the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2015) testifies that the richest 10% of the population (from its 34 member states) earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10%. As far as the east is from the west, the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen as global economies grow and this phenomenon can clearly be seen in South Africa.
Processing this crucial information can be overwhelming, and it is normal for one to easily ignore, deny or leave it for “grown-ups” or governments to solve. It feels better to say: “we’ll cross the bridge when we get there”, right?
Well, I would like to challenge this comfort zone! The world we currently live in (and the one to come) present both challenges and opportunities. Our so called “grownups” and leaders have now reached a global conclusion in Paris last year, after 21 years of climate summits, that natural resources are finite, and that the choice of energy sources, i.e. fossil fuels, that drove successful economies in the past, was in fact not so wise.
Today nations are talking about sustainability and achieving this requires us all not to do “business as usual” because we cannot afford to wait until the current environmental, social and economic challenges become even more disastrous. In essence, we live in exciting times where we know that all we’ve learnt in the past is no longer valid for long-term prosperity for all, and we need to find new and more conscious alternatives.
We can choose a new development pathway that improves the quality of our lives, restores human dignity and environmental integrity as well as the economic sustainability by which young people can find sustainable employment, for example through renewable energy.
We need to start thinking about how we can achieve this not only for the future but for today also. Young people have the power to choose and own this sustainable pathway. Both distant and recent history (like the Soweto uprising South Africans are marking on 16th June or the Arab Spring that was in part sparked by the youth and the more recent #FeesMustFall campaign in South Africa) has demonstrated this great potential and it is extremely important that we do not to forget this fact!
This strategic decisiveness, courage and strength are part of our identity and we should own it. Therefore we need to begin to actively see ourselves as part of the solutions and decision making and then begin to shape the world we want to live in.
So this Youth Day and beyond I invite you to start taking action. You can:
- Join talks, workshops, seminars or webinars that share knowledge on ecological restoration, sustainable development or climate change (to name a few) and learn more about these topics
- Start sharing knowledge with your peers wherever you are via social media
- Participate in your local environment and sustainability social group (or create one if they don’t exist yet)
- Share your input in the national policy-making workshops/sessions to make your voice heard
- Reduce your waste and energy use, recycle at home and see in what ways you can lead a more sustainable lifestyle
And lastly, don’t forget to pray for our leaders to make smart choices for us, our countries, the world and for future generations.