Giving Voice to Our Youth: Walkout at School to Save Planet Earth
My name is Valentina Ossa. I am 12 years old and in 6th grade. I am a founding member of Student Climate Action at the Arts & Letters School in Brooklyn, NY and one of the organizers of the walkout at my school today (March 14, 2019) in solidarity with all of you.
Of course I care about what the government does. I don’t make the rules. I don’t get to vote. I don’t make the laws. I don’t get to decide. But, to me, this is not about politics. This is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about my future and the SURVIVAL of the world that I live in.
I remember the first time that my mom told me about fracking and what it could do to the water. I was 5 years old and I just cried and cried. I had a fear of what it would be like when I was older. I had a fear that people were doing this to the Earth and that they wouldn’t stop. I had a fear that we weren’t just doing this to us, but that we were doing it to all the animals and all the organisms on this Earth… It just went against life itself.
I started doing research and every time I got more angry.
I can’t count how many times I thought it was a dream and that I’d wake up to this beautiful earth and that everyone would care. But I wake up and I see skyscrapers going up, gasses spewing out of factories. I see floods, hurricanes, and forests burning down in the news…. If we don’t stop now, who will have clean water to drink? Air to breathe? An ocean to swim in? All these things are rights, not privileges. Animals and plants are becoming extinct at a faster rate than ever before. If they are dying, so can we…
It’s scary to know that I may not have a future. It’s scary to think that my children will ask me why I didn’t do anything.
Climate change has gotten worse really fast. Scientists say that we have 12 years to avert the worst-case scenarios. I say that we have less. I say that we only have NOW. Not in 12 years. Not in two. We need to make change NOW so that my children and my grandchildren can have a planet to live on.
I know people who don’t care about the climate — or even the earth for that matter. But I do. I care about the air I breathe and the water I drink and the forests that can burn down at any moment. Even the other day I asked a classmate of mine whether he would consider walking out at school for 30 minutes and he said “NAH. It’s too much work”. And I said … Don’t you care about your future? And he said, “Nah I will probably be dead for the worst of it.” I responded. Don’t you care about your children and your grandchildren living through the worst of it?!?” And he said “NAH they can take care of themselves”.
Well climate change is already here and we need to take care of ourselves now. So many of these people in power are like my classmates. They think they are going to be dead by the worst of it so why not make their money now and just leave it to the future generations to deal with. Well we are the future generation. And you did leave it to us.
People say we still need to “solve the climate crisis” but we already have the solutions. We already know what we need to do, so why don’t we act? We won’t survive unless we STOP EMISSIONS. NOW! We won’t survive unless we come together and stop pretending things will somehow fix themselves.
We need NO MORE FOSSIL FUELS.
We need 100% RENEWABLES.
We need a GREEN NEW DEAL.
And we need it NOW.
We need our leaders and everyone else to get behind it because we have a planetary emergency. We need everybody to wake up!
Here in New York City we need to stop the Williams Pipeline, a fracked gas pipeline along the coast of Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Rockaways. We need to stop our dependence on fossil fuel, not build new infrastructure.
We need to stop ALL the new fracked gas compressor stations being built in New York State. The chemicals go into the air and poison the water, land, humans, animals, and everything around it.
In 100 years we might not even exist any more if we keep going at the rate we are now. Animals are dying. Forests are perishing. People are getting angrier. We are drilling into the earth like it doesn’t matter, like the Earth is just a thing that we can throw away and get another one. We can’t! If we destroy the earth, there is no turning back. There is not another one.
People are just taking what they want for greed and money and power. It needs to stop or WE WON’T HAVE A WORLD LEFT.
I would like to end my speech with seven seconds of silence and I would like to ask you to think about what you are going to do for the survival of the future seven generations; to think about what you are going to tell your grandchildren about what YOU did to stop the climate catastrophe and the end of world as we know it.
Thank you. #
Valentina is the granddaughter of Peter Yarrow, the famous folksinger.