I'm Taking Two Hours Off School To Teach Scott Morrison A Climate Lesson

On Friday afternoon, I’ll be joining several students from my school and thousands nationwide in the School Strike for Climate Action.

Our message is simple: no more excuses, we want action. We want the most powerful people in the country to use their influence and start treating climate change as seriously as any other issue.

Let me share a story about climate change with you.

In the school holidays last year, I travelled with my family to a huge inland forest in northern NSW called The Pilliga. A local ecologist told us that there used to be thousands of koalas there. But now, he rarely sees them and fears that the last ones will soon die.

We hoped to see some koalas for ourselves, but sadly there were none around, even in the tallest trees.

Nope, we didn't even see one.

The only explanation the ecologist had was that they were dying off in extreme heat events. He told us that The Pilliga has always been a hot part of the state, but the hottest days of summer are now a degree or two warmer than they used to be. That seemingly insignificant change is enough to decimate the koala population.

This is just one of countless examples that show how climate change is a real threat.

As we have all seen recently, climate change also fuels ever more intense droughts and bushfires due to excess heat and the drying effect that heat has on the land. It also makes cyclones stronger, due to warmer sea water.

Climate change affects everyone. Even city dwellers like me stand to suffer due to climate change in the future. In Australia, our largest cities are all on the coast. Sea level rise lags behind air temperature rise, but soon enough, coastal erosion and inundation of low lying areas will become a huge problem.

The food we eat will also be harder to grow as growing seasons change. As crops fail more frequently, life will become even more expensive for people struggling with the cost of housing and other expenses.

Politicians tend to treat “the economy” as though it is a separate thing disconnected from the natural environment. But they are deeply connected.

A bone dry farm in western NSW in spring this year.

That’s why we’re calling on our leaders to take action and change the way they think about this whole issue. Climate change is not a symbolic issue. It’s something which does and will affect all people, animals, natural and built environments in Australia -- and not for the better.

But we can do something about it.

We can’t change the world overnight, but we have to start somewhere. Australia has just 0.3 percent of the world’s population yet produces 1.8 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. If a country like us doesn’t take action on reducing emissions, who will?

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The good news is, there are huge economic opportunities in the renewable energy sector. Renewables are not only cleaner than coal, they are increasingly cheap and reliable too. Also, Australia is not likely to run out of sun or wind any time soon!

Climate change is not an issue that our politicians can push to the side and ignore. There are no more excuses. This is our future.

So I’ll be outside the NSW Parliament House in Sydney with my friends on Friday demanding change.

Hmmm Stella, I think you might be convincing me.

I always thought politicians responded to issues which were in the best interests of people and the economy. Here’s your chance. Consider this your reminder.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week that we should be “engaging in less activism” and “doing more learning”. Well, I’ve got a message for him: learn from us.

We’re the ones trying to clean up the mess your generation couldn’t care about. Now get on board and clean it up with us.

If you are interested in the strike and want more information you can go to the School Strike 4 Climate action site.