By Sam Marchetti, Contributor
On Sept. 27, I saw something wonderful. In the 10 minute drive from my house to the Oakville GO station on Friday, I saw a class walking the streets with their teachers holding signs up. I saw a group of four high school students at a bus shelter farther down the road, brandishing large signs with phrases like “don’t be a fossil fool” and “I’m skipping lessons so I can teach you one”.
That morning, I made my way down to Queen’s Park in Toronto. I, unfortunately, could not stay for the climate march. But I chanted and stood with those near Queen’s Park station for as long as I could. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been concerned about climate change for years. Those who know me best know that I’ve given up hope more than once. It was incredible to know that I was standing with just a small proportion of the millions of people marching around the world. There have been climate strikes and marches before, I have even attended a few of them. Eventually, though, I always ended up feeling defeated. For once, it felt like this time was different.
So, to all of you reading, let this time be different. Our climate emergency is no longer a problem that can be solved by our actions as individuals. We need the governments of the world to stand with us and to implement policies that will curb greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale and at an unprecedented rate. This isn’t an easy task, and it’s one that we certainly will not accomplish through one day of marching and striking in the streets. There are two things we need to do if we want these strikes to mean something.
First and foremost, we need to keep marching. The next time you hear about a climate protest, march, rally or strike, go to it. Don’t second-guess it, just do it. It doesn’t matter if there are another 500,000 people there and it doesn’t matter if there are just five. Most importantly, it doesn’t matter who you are. Whether or not you have contributed so far to this cause, we need you. We need your activism. We need to see you in the streets, to hear you in the media and to help keep our politicians watching us. Keep the momentum going and scream as loud as you can.
The second thing is equally as important: you need to vote. Marching, screaming and getting our politicians to see what we want is meaningless unless we can hold them to it. If we don’t vote, they don’t have to listen to us. It is imperative that we show them that we have the power and that we will not allow them to sit idly while the Earth burns. Register to vote, right now (I’ll even give you the link - www.elections.ca). In October, show up to the polls. Don’t just make your voice heard, make it count.
The marches on Sept. 27, 2019 were incredible. This wasn’t the first time I’ve felt that kind of hope, but I think this time it might not fail me.
This is my plea to you. Let this time be different.