It seemed like an early wake up call for a Friday morning, but with the sun shining and coffees and croissants on the go, we gathered at The Conduit with energy and intention for a panel discussion, led by Impact Champion Clover Hogan, on Eco Anxiety. First question: why is the climate crisis unique to young people today? This is a generation who have been thrust onto the frontline. Poster People for a crisis that they are not responsible for. The difference with this particular ‘crisis’ is that it exudes an urgency that no other ever has. We are now talking about the end of the world. No wonder this is a group who find themselves bursting into tears mid-meeting, or in bed for a week contemplating the destruction of the planet. Yet despite feeling a deep sense of duty for this cause, often the young are excluded from the conversations where crucial decisions get made. They make the front cover, but don’t reach the pages.
So exactly who holds the responsibility for creating actionable solutions? Is it the young? Well, they feel it is. The impact of this being a weight of obligation that contributes to a sense of desperation and fear. But what was so affecting about this astonishing group of young women was their tangible sense of connection to one another. This is what they cling onto when it all feels too much. When it seems like they are the lone firefighter in a bushfire of burning trees, each one comes back to the knowledge that there are others out there dousing the flames. They see themselves as part of a collective, not waiting for an immediate impact of their actions, instead determinedly swimming forward knowing that somewhere across the pond there will be a ripple effect. This is the power of collective action.
The conversation continues to come back to emotions and feelings. Something that a lot of decision makers mistakenly ignore. Yet this is where the real power lies. This use of emotive language has created a shift from statistics and data. These women don’t really care for numbers and figures, to them it misses the point. Emotions are their greatest asset. But when it comes to eco anxiety there is a scale. In certain parts of the world eco anxiety takes on a new meaning. People one step away need to unite with those on the frontline so that there is a recognition that we are all humans in this together. We can’t just switch off and hope for the best. The youth have a superpower. They can open their hearts, lean into the pain and grief of what could be a lost life and channel it into a furious drive for freedom. They are literally uprooting centuries old systems, and doing so successfully. They keep showing up. They keep doing the work. This is not a short term project for them, it is a journey of a lifetime. The youth are an army, spending their days fighting. Not for a cause, but for a future.
Clover Hogan, Founder, Force of Nature
Dominique Palmer, Climate Justice Activist
Noga Levy-Rapoport, Israeli-born British Climate Activist & Speaker
Daze Aghaji, Youth Climate Justice Activist