The youth takes charge of the adults’ denial, apathy and inaction on the climate crisis threatening life on earth

HISTORY has again and again documented how the youth has been the driving force of change in society through many generations in different parts of the world.

The youth and young adults ignited the spirit of the French Revolution that overthrew the abusive monarchy and established a republic in France. The youth and young adults were the force behind the civil rights movement that challenged racism, pushed forward voter rights and civil rights legislation in America. The youth and young adults were a strong force in the bloodless People Power Revolution that ousted the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.

These are but some of the many other chapters in world history where the youth’s idealism, boldness, and uncorrupted spirit pushed for the change that the complacent, self-serving, power-driven and money talking adults refuse to respond to the call and the urgency of the times so as not to rock the status quo.

Just recently, we have seen how the students from Parkland, Florida who faced a tragic shooting at their high school in February 2018 spearheaded a movement that demands gun control legislation and came up with the “Peace Plan” to put an end to gun violence and mass shooting in America, all because the adults of the country — especially the current occupant of the White House and the Republican leadership have nothing to offer but “thoughts and prayers” as they remain beholden to the rich and powerful National Rifle Association lobby group for political expediency.

This is the same dilemma faced by activists in a more urgent problem that affects not just a state, or a country, or a region of the world. It affects the whole planet earth. It affects all of us living thing.

Last Friday, September 20, millions of the youth and young adults in different countries all over the world walked out of their classrooms and work to join a global protest to demand URGENT action on climate change.

This was lead by climate activist Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old student from Sweden who started this global movement. She happens to be in New York City to speak before the UN General Assembly, after delivering her forceful message to Congress.

Greta Thunberg and 15 other young people on Monday, September 23 filed a potentially and hopefully world-changing climate complaint, announcing that “they’re suing five of the world’s major carbon polluters on the grounds that the countries are violating their rights as children’.

The lawsuit, according to Gizmodo report, was filed on behalf of the youth by the international law firm Hausfeld. It contended “that world governments are violating children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention drafted in 1989 is the most-signed human rights treaty ever crafted and lays out the inalienable rights of children. They include among others, the right to life, health, and peace, all with special stipulations for indigenous groups. They’re also all things climate change is upending. There’s ample evidence climate change is already making kids and adults sick, killing them, and uprooting their lives.”

With the success of this fight, the UN would then classify the climate crisis as a children’s rights crisis. “And more importantly, it would compel Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey—the five countries named in the suit—to work with other nations to forge binding emissions’ reduction targets,” as reported by

Greta was only 15 when she took time off school to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament, holding up a sign calling for stronger climate action. The power of one exploded to a global movement driven by young people who are afraid about what is happening in our planet and how this will affect their future.

“This is all wrong, I shouldn’t be up here,” Thunberg said, addressing the General Assembly and shaking with rage. “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.”

The message isn’t just for the world’s major carbon polluters, but are also directed toward the adults — who, despite the facts and data from scientific research, had not acted urgently enough to solve the climate crisis that has now endangered life on earth as we know it.

“We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” were the strong impassioned messages of Greta on behalf of her generation and the future generations.

She continued, “For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here and say that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight. You say you hear us and understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am I do not want to believe that because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil, and that I refuse to believe.”

“There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable and you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is,” Thunberg added. “You are failing us. Young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. Change is coming whether you like it or not.”

I AM WITH GRETA. I am fighting for my children and grandchildren and the generations more to come.


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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to,

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to and

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