What are you afraid of?
I have to ask, given the gross lack of action on climate issues. In recent months, millions of people have gone on strike for the climate. On Friday, Dec. 6, myself and millions of students nationwide continued this tradition, and went on strike as a symbol of environmental advocacy.
Demonstrations looked different in every city — some picketed, some spoke with their representatives and some did both. In my town, the sleepy suburb of Lake Oswego, our strike was centered around an open discussion with four of our city councilors.
There were two functions to this meeting: to lay out demands, and to ask questions about a plan of action moving forward. Students shared their concerns about everything from recycling education, to the expansion of Trimet, to the recent vote against a feasibility study for the OGLO bridge. Considering that Lake Oswego's current public transportation system consists of only four bus lines, students were especially vocal about expanding public transit options. In response to these expressions of concern, all four of the represented councilors applauded us for organizing and expressed their sentiments about climate change. However, their sentiments were hollow, as they justified inaction with two excuses: lack of funding and lack of staffing.
The reality is, we cannot critique the process forever; at some point, solutions have to be on the table. With any policy, there are financial considerations; the underlying question, however, is one of our values: would we rather have lower taxes or a sustainable future?
Although we are young, we see through this façade. We know the difference between passive promises and concrete action. I speak for my generation when I say that we are tired of organizing without seeing change. We want to go to school and be regular teenagers, but climate change is simply too important for us to ignore. This shouldn't be solely our responsibility, but when our leaders won't take action, the weight of the crisis is put on our shoulders.
Our demands are simple: visibility of the issues posed by the climate crisis, and a clear plan of action to solve these problems. With each demonstration, we, the students, are getting the first of these goals accomplished. However, the second goal, defining a plan of action to actually solve the crisis, must be accomplished by our policymakers.
Continuing to argue over what one of our councilors called the "low-hanging fruit" is not going to give us the change we want to see for a sustainable future. Lake Oswego has the affluence, resources and support for pushing forth more active sustainability policies.
Addressing the climate crisis in Lake Oswego is feasible, and not doing so immediately and aggressively blatantly disregards the concerns and safety of people in our city.
Our city councilors believe that climate change is harming our community. So, my question stands: when it comes to putting the future of the people of Lake Oswego first, what are you afraid of? We have shown up, why haven't you?
Ella Feathers is a senior at Lakeridge High School.
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