Climate Change Demands Our Immediate Attention

By Erica Kurash

Erica Kurash is an 11th-grade student at Woodstock Union High School. As one of the organizers of the recent student climate strike, she delivered this speech on the Woodstock Green. We felt more people needed to hear her powerful message, so we’re sharing it with you here.

Climate change, global warming, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, severe weather patterns, greenhouse gases . . . these are words we hear day in and day out, and yet it seems they have had little value in our ever-evolving world. That is until today. Today is the day to make change, to apply pressure and demand commitment from ourselves and government officials.

The power we have together must put more fear in politicians’ minds than the fear we live with every day. The fear that keeps you up at night, distracts you from your homework and influences your decisions. Now, why doesn’t that same fear reside in the minds of all other people? In short, humans fear change of all types, both good and bad.

Historically, climate change has had a neutral connotation, but that is no longer true. We have known the earth’s average temperature has been increasing for some time now, but many people are afraid to admit they are part of the increase. Afraid to take ownership for the detrimental effects of climate change that are powered by global warming. Fear is within all of us, myself included.

I often question myself, asking, is it okay to demand change from other people when I, myself, need constant reminders to bring my own coffee cup and reusable bags? Does that make me a hypocrite?
Well yes, but it is far better than turning a blind eye to the issue. Although my contributions are small, they are the beginning of something larger. Much like Greta’s Friday’s for Future movement, starting small and ultimately growing to over a hundred-thousand people today. When a hundred-thousand people cut their plastic consumption in half, compost, and hang dry their laundry, the environmental impact is considerable. These seemingly insignificant actions add up, so don’t give up on them. Greta says, “Refer to the science.” I say, refer to the basics. We can make solving the climate crisis as complicated or simple as we want. I prefer to keep it simple!

I am not here to remind you of the storms and fires that have devastated communities around the world. The media has that covered. I, like Greta, am here to encourage you to do your part, while demanding change from others. “It takes a team to make a dream work.” We are all in this together, requiring the friendly reminders and support to keep us motivated—to push ourselves to new heights in the world of sustainability and be better leaders for the future.

With just a short amount of time to make enormous changes in our lives, it is extremely important that we be supportive and proactive. Understand that drastic changes, like eliminating plastic from our daily lives takes time—time that we can’t waste. I urge you to make a conscience effort to eliminate plastic by politely saying no to straws, plastic bags and to-go containers one step at a time.

Each step we make towards solving the climate crisis is an explanation dodged. When younger generations ask what we were doing in the face of this crisis, the last thing I want to admit is nothing. This brings me back to fear, the fear that keeps me up at night. We have a choice to make. Either we attack our fears while they are manageable, or we don’t. Either we stop the irreversible effects of global warming or we don’t. Just know, your decisions today create your fears for tomorrow.


DO JUST THING: “Politely say no to straws, plastic bags and to-go containers.”


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