A few months ago, as I was rummaging through old stacks of paper I had stored in my grandmother’s attic, I found a letter from 2007 that the assistant to then Chancellor Angela Merkel had written to me and my sister.
It was in response to an appeal for which we had collected 364 signatures in our high schools, asking Merkel not to put the interests of the German auto industry first, but to keep her promise and treat climate protection as a top priority.
Kind words were the response, informing us how strongly Merkel is committed to climate protection. Reading this answer, one could immediately feel how shallow these phrases were.
Today they seem to be even more superficial, as we are light years away from adequately protecting the climate. The crisis has worsened. This year’s October in Germany was 3.8 ° Celsius warmer than the average of any October since 1881.
I see the activists of today and remember how desperate I was fifteen years ago. I remember the sleepless nights thinking about what I could do to raise awareness. How I decided to organize a conference for my school about the threat of climate change, to at least do something.
And I remember resigning myself a little later because nothing was going to change anyway as a result of my desperate “activism”. That I was a lonely teenager who had no influence on political decisions.
For today’s young activists, it must feel even more like it’s too late and too little. For me, however, seeing their actions feels like a relief. Worrying about climate change is no longer an isolated perspective. Today’s fight for climate action is being waged collectively and is more powerful. It’s the fight of a generation that is willing to use more radical means to make its voice heard. That gives me a little hope. Even if the shallow phrases about not acting still sound much louder.