Climate change according to a Namibian Millennial
Millennial; also known as Generation Y refers to those born between roughly the years 1980 and 2000. We the children born during and after the independent struggle, are the Namibian millennial. Critics call us the narcissistic, self-entitled generation; the trophy kids, who skip through life on the basis of participation is enough. I tend to agree with those who describe us as being civic-minded; the generation that is concerned with the well-being of the community, through actions, activities or individuals that are motivated by or that show concern for the public good or humanity as a whole.
Let me start by asking you the reader a fairly simple question: what is climate change? Think about this question a little, while I introduce my interest in the topic.
Scenario: You love cake. You love all things about cake. You love to look at cake, eat it and make it. Thus you try and find out was much as you can on cakes. You read up on the sizes, on the flavours, on the designs, etc. You go to cake conventions (I am convinced that there is such a thing), you stalk your favourite cake baker (Buddy Valastro) and convince yourself that you are now an uncertified cake connoisseur. That is how I am with climate change, or how I explain my interest in it.
Human beings are selfish. This is a fact, we want the best for ourselves in terms of education, housing, electronics, technology, cars, fashion and most importantly standard of living. We are selfish; we want the best without considering the impact that it will have on our children, our children's kids and even the current generation. Just this morning I heard a story on the radio about how there is a rise in deaths caused by environmental issues such as air pollution. We are given and shown facts daily proving the damages of climate change and yet we choose to be ignorant, to rather focus on other problems than our own. How about we make #namibianyouthforclimatejustice a trending topic of discussion amongst our people this year? Climate justice is a global movement; it is understanding the impact of climate change on people and communities and how it is unjust, as it is usually those who contribute the least to the problem who are impacted the most. It also deals with how we should act to combat climate change. Climate justice is about focusing the attention to the people and not on the greenhouse gases or the ice caps. I am taking my understanding of this movement from one of the forerunners, Mary Robinson, who through her foundation, The Mary Robinson Foundation- Climate Justice, has brought a human voice to this cause.
Youths taking part in the Climate Justice Movement for the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice. (Photocredit: www.mrfcj.org)
Climate justice is a global movement; it is understanding the impact of climate change on people and communities and how it is unjust, as it is usually those who contribute the least to the problem who are impacted the most. It also deals with how we should act to combat climate change. Climate justice is about focusing the attention to the people and not on the greenhouse gases or the ice caps.
Now back to the question that I asked you; I hope that you could answer it without too much difficulty, but for those who are a little unsure, allow me to give my explanation on what I understand climate change to be. Climate change is the gradual variation in the Earth’s weather patterns, over an extended period of time (typically decades or longer).
The earth's climate has been changing regularly for hundreds of MILLIONS of years, sometimes getting colder and sometimes warmer. However, the climate change experts talk about today’s climate somehow seems to be different, doesn’t it? Most scientists believe it is caused by global warming, which is itself caused by a gradual increase in the use of fossil fuels. Traditional climate change makes the Earth as a whole either warmer or cooler, whereas modern climate change is going to make the climate more erratic—warmer in some places, cooler in others; drier in some places; wetter elsewhere. In a nutshell, this means that climate change will change our weather patterns—perhaps quite dramatically in some places more than others—as the years go by.
Let's take action together
This is why I am asking my fellow youths to join me, yes, it really does make a difference when it is a collection of voices instead of just one. If we continue to be idle and put the effects of climate change off as someone else's problem, we will only damage our already fragile ecosystems, future generations and the development of our country and continent. What I mean by that previous statement is that our country will have to deal with longer periods of drought or prolonged rainfall periods which will result in (especially) agriculture and most of our people’s livelihood, suffering. Temperatures will continue to rise, leading to the heating of the earth's surface, which will cause ice caps to further melt and sea levels to rise. This is disastrous for our fishing industry, as fish are very delicate creatures who rely heavily on their environment to remain constant. Also, if you as a youth living in urban areas think that this does not concern you, then you are mistaken. Think about the current water crisis affecting Windhoek, yes, that can also be traced back to climate change.
I am not suggesting you change your whole lifestyle all in one go, but we need to start thinking of ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, be it you as an individual deciding to buy a bicycle instead of car to be more environmentally conscious or coming together with other youths who share the same ideals as you on this issue, to find collective ways to make a change. It really doesn’t matter; all that matters is that you consistently do something, anything, to make a difference. This is what this post is about, inspiring youths to take the initiative to be the change that our community needs. Think back to my earlier reference to cake; just as a cake has many layers and can be presented in various ways, we should address climate change similarly. By having multiple approaches, different efforts from many partners and a myriad of inputs, we should be able to tackle it. I’m not here to force my ideals upon you, but it is my goal that at the end of my blog series that if even just one of you changes their ways and joins me on this quest to bringing climate justice to those affected, then I have succeeded.
To conclude, I just need to restate that this post is a part of a blog series, thus this is part one and there are more to follow in which I will delve deeper into the topic. This is a learning journey for both of us, as I write and research I find out more as well. I am not all that knowledgeable on climate change and all that is being done to combat it, which is why I want to learn more from other young Namibians. Let us hold hands and walk on this enlightening path together, to become the #namibianyouthforclimatejustice.
Picture I took during a visit to the Habitat Research Centre in Katutura (with the Training Young Namibians on the Energy Sector Programme, 2014).
About the author
EMMY-PIRKKO (EMMY) MWANDINGI is a 22 year old student, studying at UNAM, focusing on Public Relations and Media. Reading has been a long-time hobby of hers and she has just recently added writing to the list.