“Asking kids… to chill out and make an incremental change that may be realized 30 to 40 years from now is ignoring the reality that they face.”
Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition.
For some reason, BikePortland’s articles on high school activists tend to attract a fair number of negative comments. Some are just plain cranky, others are well thought out.
I get it. My immediate, knee-jerk reaction to high school protests goes something like this: I’ve been protesting climate change since before you were born! What year was the Al Gore global flash mob event in Pioneer Square where we all synched alarm clocks to emphasize that time was running out? 2002?
So against the backdrop of general internet negativity and a feeling of impotence regarding climate change specifically, this week’s Comment of the Week stood out for its spirited defense of the Portland Youth Climate Strike organizers. It takes work to be positive on the internet. SD’s comment reminds us all to be a little less cynical and a little more generous, and appreciative.
Read a slightly edited (for brevity) version of SD’s comment below:
All social movements, and activism-based movements are complex and present different perspectives. Policing a compelling message of highly motivated activists is counterproductive and is a thinly veiled endorsement of the status quo. Asking kids in who haven’t had a summer during high school that wasn’t marred by a heat dome or an AQI of over 500 to chill out, get an advanced degree and make an incremental change that may be realized 30 to 40 years from now is ignoring the reality that they face.
This is the right move by the Portland Youth Climate Strike organizers and I can assure you that many of these kids will also be pursuing degrees in environmental science and searching for technologies to try and reverse the harm done by previous generations. I can also assure you that the adults who have been engaged in climate science and climate activism are happy to see this be the focus of these protests.
The “villains” on their list are very deserving of their recognition and their greenwashing should not go unopposed. There should be pressure on electeds to not sit on their hands and allow these people to continue unobstructed.
Despite these bad actors being known for their destructive practices among engaged groups, the broader public and other high school students are not aware. The youth climate strike is the perfect venue to amplify this awareness.
Honestly, it is disgusting that high school kids are putting their hearts into taking a stand and making a difference, and older people who failed to protect the future of their children are trying to tone-police the Portland Youth Climate Strike message.
Read the comment and the article here.
Thank you SD. We appreciate you being part of our conversations here.
Lisa Caballero has lived in SW Portland for 20 years. She is on the Transportation Committee of her neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL) and can be reached at email@example.com.