I’ve been obsessed with reading the news since I was a little kid. My friends advised me to take breaks from the media, fearing for my mental health because I “care too much about everything.” But I never gave up. Empathy and awareness are an important part of my journey as an activist. Today, I make sure I stay connected, travelling the world through headlines.
“Apocalyptic Scenes in Australia as Fires Turn Skies Blood Red.” – The New York Times.
I received a notification from a group of friends a couple of days after celebrating the new year. I ran to check the news, not realizing how horrifying it would be. Millions of acres burnt, thousands of buildings and homes destroyed, and not to mention the millions of animals killed.
Two days passed and all I could think of was the picture of a kangaroo clinging to the leg of the man who saved its life. A week passed and I learnt that Australian forests had been burning since July 2019. Had I been living under a rock?
I texted my friends in our group chat.
T: “How have we never heard of such a huge fire taking place in a developed country like Australia?”
L: “What is the role of the media if it has been six months and we haven’t heard about it?”
S: “Remember the session we had about climate change when we were in the summer camp?”
C: “Yes! That’s when we learnt about the term ‘Climate Justice.’ It was really eye-opening.”
T: “I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine and he said that it’s not that bad because people were already cutting forests to build more factories, so what’s the point in worrying?”
S: “These fires will change everything for them. There will be a lot of pollution, agricultural crisis, and eventually economic losses. I heard we’ll also have the worst summer so far! ”
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This is happening in Australia right now. Not from a dystopian movie. Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by this crisis. It’s time for us to escalate action for #climatejustice like never before. Photos: 1. Matthew Abbott 2. Allison Marion 3. Matthew Abbott 4. Peter Parks #australiabushfires #bushfiresaustralia #bushfires #climateemergency #climatecrisis #wildlife #fires #wildfires
“Adorable Stuffed Koalas Have Taken Over NYC to Support the Australian Wildfires.” – Untapped New York.
I have been aware of how powerful social media is, and it will always inspire me how people are able to collectively react to dire events. I remember reading the above headline and thinking about how people all over the world are sharing sadness with Australians. The people of Australia were losing their homes and fighting to extinguish devastating wildfires, but at the end of the day, we’re living on the same planet. No matter where we live, our race, gender, or financial state, the solidarity that people show across oceans when it comes to such a crisis is astonishing.
While we share the same planet, connected to each other even if oceans and borders try to separate us, I must acknowledge that climate change affects people unequally and unfairly. The rich won’t be as crushed as the poor. Women and Men. Abled and Disabled. Old and Young. Developed and Undeveloped countries. Coastal and non-coastal hometowns. Urban and rural. The reason we are calling for climate justice is that some are privileged enough to adapt to climate change in ways others can’t. When it rains heavily, some are happy to watch it, while others are drowning without shelter or without food because their crops are damaged.
T: “I love how everyone around the world is trying to help Australia in a way or another. People are finally showing their humane side.”
S: “I wish now some politicians and businessmen would realise that climate change is real.”
T: “People should at least try to realize that even though we’re all connected, justice will never reach each and every one.”
“A New Virus is Spreading in China” – BBC
Another message and another headline that turned my life, and the whole planet, upside down. In the beginning, I thought it was “just a virus”, but as time passed, I realised it was much more. The new virus (Covid19) turned into a lifestyle. It taught me the basics of life. Things we always took for granted like running to a supermarket, having breakfast outdoors, or hugging your friends. My new lifestyle became reading the news and washing my hands every fifteen minutes. While I was stuck at home, now more than ever, I felt connected to everyone all over the world – staying home, learning to survive being locked down.
L: “I don’t understand what is going on in the world, but I won’t be able to spend the summer with you, guys.”
S: “I was suspended from work for the unforeseeable future.”
A: “I have to stay in the hospital for the next couple of weeks.”
T: “Let’s have a Zoom video call to share our stories because I miss you all.”
“’We can see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years’ – from India to Venice, the beautiful side effects of the coronavirus pandemic.” – The Telegraph”
We stayed at home, learned how to breathe, and accepted our fate. But things changed. We had movies to watch and books to read. We appreciated those who fought on the frontlines like local workers, doctors, and nurses. We learned that scientists are less likely to lie than politicians. We believed them when it came to a pandemic, and we should when it comes to climate change. It took us a pandemic to learn that we should never go back to how things were because they shouldn’t have been like that to begin with.
On the other hand, the Earth started to heal. People in India, one of the most polluted countries, were able to see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years. In Italy, the water became clearer.
Even though the coronavirus is a pandemic, it still taught us lessons we never thought we would learn. We also saw how people could not adapt equally or fairly to it, exactly like climate change. Some are locked down in tiny apartments, others are locked down in homes with gardens and pools and have access to more resources. Some have the luxury of working from home, others are still stuck in subways because they can’t pay their bills without running to work.
Whatever the situation is, whether it be a pandemic or climate change, we need to have empathy and think about those who will be affected, more so if they are different to or far away from us.
T: “What have you been up to lately? I hope you’re healing as the environment is.”
S: “I’ve been able to reconnect with all my old friends and I don’t want to brag about my homemade food, but I believe you’ll taste it soon.”
L: “I’ve been having a lot of time reflecting on my life’s decisions.”
A: It’s very hard always being stuck in the hospital, but your messages always find a way to keep me connected with the whole world and lift my spirits.”
“Coronavirus: When will the outbreak end and life get back to normal?” – BBC news
We are struggling to keep up with everything that is currently taking place in the world, but I’m glad that I can see some little changes. Change is important.
T: “As it’s been said: ‘We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.”