“What’s our Tomorrow?”
Youth perspective on Climate Change
Drops of sweat slowly running down my neck was enough to give me Goosebumps, of not fear but of nervousness as I stepped heavily on the entrance to the training hall.
“Come on”, I scolded myself, “you have done this before”. But it was no use, deep down I knew very well what awaited me once I went inside.
20 young eyes, with perhaps frowns or displays of annoyances at me for telling them about such a ridiculous thing like climate change. Hah….. Ridiculous as it is, whole world standing at sake to the mere changes in atmosphere. It seemed to me as almost an impossible task to convince climate change realities to these young, energetic, enjoying-the-life, youth from around Pakistan.
But my mind was made up; from the very day I came to know about climate change, to let other people know about this horrible truth. My recent selection in The Climate Projects Asia-Pacific Summit not only gave me a chance to go with my mission but was the answer to my question as how would I be able to do such a thing. And Thus with Al Gore’s training and the wonderful presentations in my hand I came back to Pakistan with a mission and that was to “Spread the Word”.
Being a young person myself I found it my utmost responsibility to reach out to my peers first, and thus here I was with well support from UNFPA Pakistan to train the members of UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)-Pakistan.
Entering the hall with my most elegant manner to escape the curious gazes that welcomed me, I made my way to the front. Once starting with my presentation, the formalities allowed myself to keep my cool and answer the questions that showered down me in the between the presentation.
So what do you find related among Reproductive Health and Climate Change? UNFPA works on Population not environment? I was asked. I didn’t let my jaw drop and answered:
About 200 million women around the world need but unfortunately lack access to contraceptives. And thus about over 76 million unwanted/ unintended pregnancies occur each year. The high rate of population growth is a great demographic pressure on the environment and surely there are important links between population dynamics, Reproductive Health Rights and Climate Change.
Another question fallowed through:
Pakistan is already wrapped up in unending problems, now this? Do you really believe we need to be having extra tension about trapped GHGs, increase in the heat or change in weathers when many other situations need our consideration?
I cleverly showed them a few video clips from The Climate Project, and gave some main points which answered the question very well:
· The earth’s average near-surface atmospheric temperature increased 0.74°C ±0.18°C, and can further rise between 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F).
· An increase in the temperature means the rapid melt of glaciers, which will be resulting in an overflow in the Indus river/delta in the coming years until the Indus delta becomes only a rain fed river as quick ice melts have been seen in the Himalayas and the Karakorum Range.
· Balochistan after the drought of early 20th century can go on another severe drought in coming years. Pakistan’s coastal zone will be affected by severe cyclones each year and livelihood of the fisher folk would be at sake.
· Sea level rise would be the end of about hundreds of coastal land at the Karachi coast. As in the last century oceans rose between 9 and 20 cms, this could increase upto 88 cms by 2100.
· In-country major conflicts can arise on the water sharing issue in the coming future.
Some more points and these young people were really in for the topic. Questions kept on coming, until I was deeply struck by a new meek voice coming from the far end of the U-table from a young boy with thick heavy glasses but a sweet look of emotions for the importance of his question:
“What’s our tomorrow?” he asked, “Why are we the young people in a challenge of climate crises, when our elders saw a clean climate?”
I moved ahead to face his fear-stricken eyes under the glass rimmed optical frames to reply him. Before I could answer, on the other end of the U-table a young girl participant gave my answer to him with a smile on her face, “we are facing the challenge because we are the “youth”, she said, “We accept challenges to conquer them, our tomorrow is safe because the challenge would no longer live to become our tomorrow, it will be conquered by us, the young population of the world, because WE are the tomorrow!
A few seconds of silence greeted her after she finished talking. Pin drop quietness could have shaken me with assumptions of despair from young generation of Pakistan, if I hadn’t heard the roaring claps, whistles and shouts of “yes we are ready”!
My mission of the day was complete. I looked towards the happy crowd of young change makers and stood proud, for I hadn’t just presented information, I had also produced information, for the whole world to know that: Young people are not just a solution, they are perhaps the only solution for a better tomorrow..… because THEY are the tomorrow.