Young people and climate change: the power is ours

August 22, 2009

Sydney Resistance member Aaron Roden presented the following talk at the NSW Socialist Alliance conference on August 8.

The key issue facing young people today, tomorrow's leaders, is climate change. It will be our generation that will decide the long-term balance of life on this planet, and the fate of the human race. The science increasingly shows drastic action is needed within the next few years.

As a Fijian, I will be personally affected. My family back home will suffer from the effects of climate change. If no action is taken by 2050, Fiji's poor economy, based largely on tourism, could collapse if coral reefs die and beaches disappear, while increased incidences of floods, cyclones and drought sweep the nation.

This is just one drop in an ocean of countries. Other Pacific countries, like Tuvalu, risk becoming entirely uninhabitable. But this is a global problem. All around the world, already poor countries will be even worse off; children will face an existence worse than that of their parents. And it's largely not their fault.

Operating under imperialist direction and sometimes outright thievery, these countries have been exploited for the sake of foreign profit — profit for advanced countries such as Australia.

If humanity fails to avoid catastrophic climate change, it will be our generation who will have to deal with the ever-worsening effects: the rising oceans; the droughts; loss of arable land; climate refugees; and wars over natural resources.

We, the young people of Australia, need to become future leaders today. We need to take our place beside workers, unions and environmentalists against those who control coal, oil, agribusiness, motor industries and all the other environmentally destructive industries.

Our generation will either see the beginning of the end of human civilisation or construct the beginning of a brighter future.

Under capitalism, First World countries behave like spoiled brats, accustomed to unbridled consumption, supposedly unlimited resources and selfish individualism. As socialists, we must forge a path for humanity as a whole to grow up and take our place as a responsible agent in the community of Earth's biosphere.

Resistance campaigns bring the environmental and workers movements together. Our task is to educate ourselves and each other, to build a green revolution.

We don't need to get engineering and science degrees to invent new technologies — they already exist. Solar-thermal, wind power, geothermal, longer-lasting light bulbs – it's all there. There are new agricultural techniques and technologies, green urban planning and architecture; a green revolution is in the making.

The transition to a sustainable society must not leave workers in polluting industries behind. They must be retraining for workers in these industries, and guaranteed sustainable jobs. The recent speaking tour of ex-coalminer Graham Brown, organised by Resistance, helped highlight the need for a transition that is green and fair to workers.

Resistance is playing an active role in the campaign for a just transition to a green economy. Struggle involving masses of people is the only way to achieve a safe climate future, as it is the world's majority who will have to play an active part in building a new, eco-socialist society.

We're involved in organising climate camps, environmental collectives, and we participate in student conferences such as Students of Sustainability and Powershift, taking democratic socialist perspectives into the discussions.

United with others, we can convince masses of people to join us: complacency is destroying what could be a bright future. Get active with Resistance — we have a world to win!

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