Hello, my name is Ellen Barnes and I am 17 years old. First, thank you for coming out to show that you care about the future of humanity. I started learning about climate change when I was 14 and overtime I have read several books and listened to many voices. After a while I started hearing the same message: Climate change is the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced. Before I drive any deeper into the issue, I want each and every one of you here today to close your eyes for a brief moment.
It’s July in the year 2030. You catch a word of a storm that has been gaining strength since its development in Oklahoma. It’s 9pm; you see a lightning flash and hear thunder begin miles away. However, you feel calm knowing you are inside your home. Around 10:30pm you fall asleep to the sound of heavy rain. Around 3am, you wake up to a tree branch falling on your roof. Turning on the news, you discover wind speeds have reached 120 mph. 12 mph faster than “Hurricane Elvis” and there was no sign of stopping in the next 24 hours.
You tried to return to bed but your dreams were drowned in nightmares. It’s 8am, your roof is leaking, and you are without power. But, it’s not just you. Nobody has power in Shelby County. The worst part of the storm has passed but winds still push 60mph and the rain is still falling. The radio is the most reliable form of communication at this point which is important considering the amount of tornadoes forming in the county. The road outside your house is drenched in fallen branches and driving is beyond a consideration. It is just you and whoever you live with. A couple days later and the radio is still all you have. MLGW is working as fast as possible but they do not have enough crews. Over 100,000 have lost their homes thousands more have had severe damages to their homes. The City of Memphis is rushing to come up with a financial plan to help all the people who need food, clothes, and shelter. Homeless shelters and food pantries are being overcrowded. The governor declares a city emergency.
Open your eyes. Take a moment to think about how that story made you feel. Although we don’t know what the future holds, we know that the track we are on will take us nowhere good.
In the words of former President Obama, “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.” Despite what you may think, there are many actions you can take to decrease your carbon footprint. The first step is to keep the Climate Crisis in mind every time you make a decision. When you walk into the grocery store, many options will present themselves to you. You have the choice to support large corporations or local brands. The agriculture factories are notorious for carbon emissions so do research. Plastic packaging is everywhere, so try to minimize the amount of plastic in your cart. At home, identify what machines you use that require the most energy. This way not only are you decreasing your carbon footprint, but you are also saving yourself money. On the topic of saving money, hybrid and electric actually pay you back and the Solar Electric Industry Association demonstrates that, "the cost of solar installations dropped nearly 70% in the 2010s." Even a small change goes a long way.
Another powerful way to fight for humanity and the existence of life on Earth is voting. Not only on federal elections but also on local elections. I think it is sad our leadership is made of the people who will die before suffering the consequences to come from melting half the ice. So please fight for the future children, fight for the animals dying from habitat destruction and the ones burning in the amazon. One of my quotes is from Prince Ea, “Whatever you’re fighting for racism or poverty, feminism gay right, or any type of equality, it wont matter in the least because if we don’t all work together to save the environment we will be equally extinct.”