An oil rig worker in Alberta, an engineering student in Mauritania, a minister-in-training in New Zealand – 11 young people, aged under 25, tell us what it feels like to inherit an environmental crisis.
We spoke with young people from around the world about why it’s hard for their peers to care about the environment, how they reconcile their fears about the future, what made them start caring, and the little things that give them hope.
Gabriela Gallo Torres, 17
About me: I study international relations. I like photography and eating healthy, although I’m a huge fan of pizza and fries.
Why it’s hard to care: It’s the “You Only Live Once” motto. When I was in school, a couple of years ago, I was talking with my classmates about pollution and climate change, and I remember this guy laughing at our conversation and saying something like, “Even if you care, the Earth is going to end anyway.” I was so pissed off. People like that guy are why people don’t dare to actually do something for our world.
What gives me hope: As an international relations student, sometimes it is really hard for me to stay hopeful, because I’m always reading about Beijing’s air pollution, Shell in the Arctic, and so on. But what gives me hope is to know that I’m not alone – I mean, there are people, like everyone involved with the Guardian’s Keep It In the Ground campaign, who are working for our planet. We care about the future, we don’t live just for the moment.
Simon Quarenghi, 23
About me: I live in Edmonton, Alberta, which you could say is the oil capital of Canada.
Tipping point: I moved from small town Prince George, British Columbia to Edmonton at 19 to work in the oilfield – I went from working in a deli and a bar to working on a service rig fixing wells. There were times when I felt pride in my work as a roughneck, helping run the country and that. But after a few months I started to really think just how much oil was being pumped at any given moment over the entire world. And how much diesel and gas was being burned just to get more crude out of the ground. It started to seem like a joke: one big crazy circle of oil consumption with no end in sight. To drive down the road and see that every second vehicle was a jacked up diesel truck, to see a pump-jack in every field, to see all the oil refineries and plants, it started to get to me. There is no way we can continue this way of living for much longer, not without destroying the air we breathe and the land we live on.