I had a great time discussing "Monty and Rose," the film we made about endangered Great Lakes piping plovers, on Fox 32's "Good Day Chicago" on Jan. 20. You can watch the appearance here.
By Ellie Raidt
It is well known worldwide that we are in the midst of an environmental apocalypse. Our planet cannot adapt to the way we are developing. With increasing population and demand for new technologies, material goods, food, and entertainment, it is difficult for our environment and ecosystem to stay stable. Our home is choking on our excessive level of fossil fuel and drowning in our rising seas. This is not only a risk for humanity, but a burden for the youth of the world to clean up after those before them who left this mess.
For years, the newest generations have been making it clear to the leaders of the world that they need to work harder toward the end goal of a clean Earth. Youth are making their voices heard and are not afraid to step up and speak up to those in power. For example, young women like Varshini Prakash, who led a 150-student protest outside then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office. Also Xiye Bastida, who is one of the many leaders of the youth climate movement. Young men like Benji Backer, who, despite being conservative, submitted his testimony to Congress stating that environmental wellness should be world governments’ No. 1 priority, as it impacts every single person. Also Vic Barrett, who is a part of the Alliance for Climate Education, one of the most important movements in the world today. Lastly, the renowned Greta Thunberg, who at only 16 years old has spoken to United Nations leaders about how they have betrayed the young people of the world by leaving a mess of a planet.
In August of 2018, Thunberg began the soon worldwide school strike by sitting on the steps of the Swedish Parliament every Friday in a silent, solitary protest. Thirteen months later, this led to a worldwide strike of about 7.6 million participants throughout 185 countries, the largest climate strike in history. Millions marched the streets with signs reading clever statements on single-use plastics and fossil fuels, grabbing the attention of pedestrians, city-goers, and most importantly, the world’s political leaders. In December Thunberg was named Time’s Person of the Year.
These people are making it clear that they are willing to stand for the one thing that every person has in common: our planet and home. It is still unclear exactly how the United Nations will act upon the requests being made from millions of people across the globe, if at all. One thing is clear: the Climate Crisis is making headlines and being acknowledged, which is more than what we have had in far too long. If politicians do not act when millions of people are on the streets rather than at school or work, then there is likely nothing that will impact their judgment.
If humans are going to reach the year 3000, the world needs to stop talking and start acting. Carbon emissions must be cut to zero, agriculture must become entirely sustainable, and green energy must be implemented as part of daily life. The Climate Crisis is a mountain that is seemingly impossible to summit, but with people like Greta, Benji, Varshini, Vic, Xiye, and the almost 8 million activists standing up for our home, there is hope for a green future.
Ellie Raidt is a first-year high school student who previously wrote a piece for The Fact Sheet.
The recent Chicago coyote attacks led me to start thinking about an encounter I had with one a few years ago when my daughter was about six months old. She was strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn and we were walking in Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, a brief escape from home on a crisp fall day. In those early days as a parent, it was a joy simply to get outside, but it was especially nice to introduce Sonja to our closest natural area.
There was a coyote ahead of us on a path near the central meadow on the point, about 50 yards from us. I suppose my tendency could have been to turn around right away when we saw it, but I stood for a while so we could both get a look at it. This passed for a type of adventure amid a lot of sleepless nights, diaper changes and bottle feedings. The coyote eventually turned away and walked in the opposite direction. Maybe I’m naive, but I never felt in danger - it’s also been a fun story to tell as Sonja gets older. The coyote attacks have led to perhaps sensationalistic media coverage - a producer or editor’s delight. This preys on our fears, though, and leads to an even deeper disconnect between people and nature, just as there is a wonderful re–wilding taking place in our cities.
Of course, my heart goes out to the child who was attacked - I have been in the woods enough to know that there are genuine concerns. But this shouldn’t lead us to lock ourselves in our homes and further withdraw from the outdoors. If anything, we need to head back out into nature with all of our senses attuned and a deeper awareness of the world around us. And indeed, that is what being in nature is all about.