It’s Earth Day 2021, and the launch of a momentous and important campaign is upon us. Want to stand up for nature in your local area? Be that change for those before and after you!
I wrote this article for The Wildlife Trust Wales, to showcase the amazing work being done globally by young people determined to save this planet and secure our future.
Here’s the link to the fantastic page and the blog published on the trusts website: https://www.wtwales.org/blog/dawood-qureshi/kids-are-gonna-save-world
Plus another link to the incredible Stand For Nature Wales project: https://www.wtwales.org/stand-for-nature-wales
As a marine biologist and a journalist, I often wake up with a sense that I have to make some kind of change in the world, that the path of one who makes change and who forges other paths has been left to people like me, and others with a similar interest. I have been given these opportunities and these chances, now what am I going to do with them? what will I do as a person who knows, to save what we have left? This mindset is what has carried me this far already, and every day when I feel the pull, I try to speak out, or write, or set myself against the grain of the fast-moving sheep.
But it’s hard.
It’s hard to forge a path through the crossroads of everyone else’s life, and especially when that life is being upended by so many obstacles. Today’s world can seem to be one of such chaos, especially one that is connected so closely to the environment and the natural world. It is a time of climate change warnings, armies of beings tramp the roads asking for change, men in ivory towers click pens and checklists without even glancing below…And yet…
There…as the smoke clears…we catch a glimmer of hope, a glimmer that steadily grows into a beacon.
A beacon that shines through all the chaos, and a group that forever inspires us to pull back from this precipice we as a world are forever afraid to topple off to the jagged rocks below.
I’m talking about the kids.
The kids, the youngsters, the next generation of climate change warriors, naturalists, activists, social justice warriors, scientists, conservationists, people who are yet to become an age where they are seen as having a societal norm of authority, and yet they throw aside the petty differences the elders have set in the dust, and seek to work together for a common goal, one that will lift us from that dirty water we lay in, and teach us that it’s not a world of chaos and strife, it’s a world of beauty and possibility.
The kids are gonna save the world.
There’s a lot to be said for individuality these days. We as a society seek out the “leader”, the “influencer”, the “marksman”, we seek out the torch that shines brightest to us, and we peg every idea and every criticism upon them. But the power is wrought by the collective: there is youth around the globe linking hands, standing shoulder to shoulder, and creating a wall of helping hands to protect the home we have, and I hope by seeing some light cast upon these incredible people, you too will become inspired to stand with them because too often we are not shown the highlights of these struggles, and when you cannot see the fight being fought, you either forget there is one, or you give up on there ever being change brought forward at all.There is youth around the globe linking hands, standing shoulder to shoulder, and creating a wall of helping hands to protect the home we have.
Name ring a bell? It should. It comes attached to some charged words; activism, climate change, fossil fuels, politics, diversity, story, heart, etc., these are all words that came to mind as I scrolled through her achievements and became enamored by her story. Aneesa is a warrior, a champion for the actions and achievements of so many around the world and for the climate and the environment. I was fascinated by the drive she represented in her words and her actions, specifically in the traveling she has done for the fight; Lima, Paris, Marrakesh, are but some of the countries she’s been to as an attendee of the UN Climate Conference, she’s headed and been involved in multiple organizations such as Sustain US, Friends of the Earth International and The Wilderness Society. Here is an individual who believes in the fight for ALL, that the underlying issues of our climate are ones that affect entire civilizations, and to throw aside our differences and work together, not only for the sake of the natural world but to break down the barriers between each other, is the way forward.
A name I came across when researching the organization Extinction Rebellion, an organization I admire and hold in high regard in many cases where they have used their sway, their motivation, and their people power to get entire movements off the ground and into the light, specifically when the future of our planet is involved. Ayisha was one of the reasons that, in September, at least 300,000 people attended a climate change rally in New York City, and over 4 million people all around the globe tuned in and took part. This was the largest climate strike in history, and this incredible person was a foundational part of that struggle. I was brought near to tears by her words, as she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the planet as a collective in Global Citizen; Ayisha spoke of hope, she spoke of courage and faith in the generation we have now, and the dream of one day no longer needing to ask for change simply because change will have already occurred and change will have already taken place. It is this astounding hope that we need, this passion for humanity as well as the environment they persevere within.I am a strong believer in the mantra that in order to help nature we must help humanity, and vice versa, simply because we are far too intricately connected to exist without the other, and the separation of humanity from nature itself as a term is what has led us down this dark road.
I was to be inspired more by the tale of this warrior. Artemisa is a 19-year-old activist of the Xakriabá people, a tribe located in Southeastern Brazil. Her speech at the climate strike in New York that I spoke of earlier was nothing short of extraordinary, an impassioned, measured, highly encapsulating, and brilliant speech, a wake-up call to those ivory tower goers with their carrots and sticks to suddenly take notice of the changes happening below. Artemisa has been fighting for the Amazon Rainforest; She is the leader of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil and has faced off politicians about the destruction that is occurring in her home, and the great struggles her people and family have faced because of it, her words burning a hole to the heart of the US Senate and Congress, extending not only friendship and support but a hand of encouragement to all those affected by the heinous acts occurring all around the world at the hands of corporate bodies. Artemis is bravery incarnate, a testament to the soul and vigor of the human race, she is ready to fight for this planet and to keep the zeal of the youth alive, and I for one look to her and others like her to lead us to the future.
“Cliches aren’t always the best choice of language, but here I feel compelled to utter these words; these people are the leaders of a greener, safer world. It may have been said before but I will say it again, and again, and again if need be, for does not the emphasis of a statement simply reinstate its value?”
A name those who are familiar with me and my work have heard many times. I first became aware of Mya many years ago, when I was naught but a young naturalist, just pottering about the garden in search of wildlife, and every so often going online to update my blog. Even back then she was a force to be reckoned with; an ornithologist with a keen eye and a strong sense of justice about her, I have watched in awe as she climbed the often rickety and obstacle-ridden ladder of the British wildlife and conservation world, reaching numerous heights, all laden with accolades and awards richly deserved. I have watched her speak many a time, mostly on the big screen, and at times heard on podcast or radio, and the experiences she has gained from being out in wildlife, observing bird species, investigating other terrestrial wildlife, and spreading much-needed awareness of our dwindling countryside, are an inspiration to myself and to so many more. I recently also spoke to her myself, and it was just as inspiring, if not more, to speak about issues so close to home and heart, and to see yet another wildlife warrior looking to the heart of the issues of our environmental destruction being that we are not caring of our people as well as our wildlife, and thus we must speak of politics, of diversity, of unity, of the plight of so many all around the globe being linked to these natural disasters, if we are to save our world.Previous
I have fought to have a voice for so long.
The activist in me is one that has been alive ever since I could speak, an incredulous panther stalking my dreams of a cleaner world, it growls low and strikes fast should I ever leave the path. I would not speak of these issues were they not so very close to my heart; I study Marine Biology for the intense passion I have to save the world’s oceans and to swim amongst the creatures of the deep without the encounter of a shredded net, or the ominous presence of an intoxicating liquid.
I tell stories, and I speak to bring light to the wrongly demonized, to those who would be shunned for the same reasons I have been, and who have been left to drift, but still seek to save the lives of those who left them without even a moment’s glance behind, for they have the insight to see the bigger picture. I write, and I write, and I write some more, forever stretching my aching hand as it seeks to draw every last drop of the word out of me; I am trying to convey a message, a message of shock, of hope, and of heart.
I reach out to you and to others to listen to the long echoing ring of the wild, and to heed our own voices as they tell us that there is hope, there is a reason to keep pushing forward, we are able to change this world from within, we just have to continue to believe there’s still a fight to be had, and I do believe you will champion this message until the day we can no longer speak.
And so I do not shrink from saying that these are some of the most inspiring and incredible people I have ever come across. But I would also not shrink from saying that this could be you. Yes. You heard me right, You. The reader of this article could be and probably already are of the status that will deliver this untold promise we have to the environment. You don’t need a qualification, you need knowledge, and knowledge is found with interest and passion. The passion that you already have within you, and the flames that perhaps will be fanned further by the reading of this article and seeing the encouragement of these people.
They are all people. We as people often forget that we can and often do anything we put our minds to, and in this case, the saving of the planet, from ourselves, is a task worthy of our combined efforts.
You may think that a stage is needed, that a speech with many a proverb is required, that a timely announcement from a famous newscaster is the show starter for you.
But these are only achieved upon flight, and to fly one must first get off the ground; it all starts with a small action: a signature on a petition, attending a rally at a local park, writing an essay on nature, seeing birds and wild animals outside your window, using reusable products, recycling, cleaning up after yourself, picking up litter, reading up about the nature in your garden, asking someone online advice on bird feeders, turning the lights off at night, buying sustainable clothing, the possibilities are endless!
We live in an age of possibility, you are not just a watcher of change, you ARE the change! We are all activists, communicators, scientists, naturalists, enthusiasts, and we are here to tower over the bringers of environmental injustice, to peer down upon them and change the course of history for the better, so that we can one day do as Ayisha so eloquently put, and stride through the clean streets of a greener world, with no need to ask for climate justice, for it has been fought and paid for, and lives on ever since.
We are the kids, all of us, and we’re gonna save the world.