Students take part in a “youth strike to act on climate change” in France in March 2019. (Reuters Pictures / Stephane Mahe)
Young climate activists like me are overwhelmed by the enormity of the crisis—but we also have hope for the future.
Every day, I scroll through my morning news feed knowing that I will be overwhelmed by nightmarish images. I swipe past photos of islands so devastated by Hurricane Dorian that they resemble Roman ruins and videos of wild flames engulfing the Amazon. I am bombarded by scenes of catastrophe, even as the coverage of climate disaster remains insufficient in comparison to the scale of the crisis.
Like a growing number of people, the distinct kind of sorrow and despondency I feel when I see these images—when I hear about the loss of ecosystems, communities, and species—is a unique and sustained one. The images may disappear when I shut off my phone, but the sense of despair that I experience does not. Rather, it metastasizes like a malignant tumor. It colors my perception of my own purpose—really, of my own purposelessness—and of my capacity to live a meaningful life. It makes focusing, let alone organizing, difficult. It makes me question whether it is ethical to have children of my own one day, knowing they would inherit a less habitable planet depleted of so many of its natural wonders.
And I’m only 19.