25 Oct October Member of the Month: Aaron Kirby
When I was 12 years old, I gave my first speech to a government panel. It was a one-minute blurb to the solemn faces of the california coastal commission; they had previously sat through 7 hours of speeches all towards the same goal, to stop proposed high energy seismic testing off the california coast. Despite that, my speech was different. It seemed to shift the room. The officials sat up straight for the first time in 3 hours; I heard the sound of a few pens dropping to the table as they stopped fiddling and stared at me wide eyed and nodding. As I descended from the podium, I puzzled over why my short, and frankly mediocre, speech made such an impact. That’s when I realized, staring at the 300 faces of activists from all over california, wearing dreadlocks to suits and everything in between, I was the only kid.
Climate change is an issue that would most affect my generation, and yet, I was it’s only representative. When there is a separation like the one at the coastal commission, it is easy to divide the issue into two separate worlds, in this case, the most affected and less affected, or the younger and future generations, and the older generations. When I gave my speech that morning, those two worlds came crashing together and all of a sudden, the panelists were forced to think not only about the present, but the future too. When I gave my speech, I didn’t represent my generation, I represented the future. The commission voted unanimously in our favor.
I no longer speak on such things as seismic testing. Instead, I spend my time talking about, pondering, and strategizing on climate change. An issue that, unlike seismic testing, transcends environmentalism. Climate change is a human rights issue, a global health and international security threat, a menace to the impoverished, and an economic problem. In almost all of these affected sectors climate change is considered the greatest threat of the 21st century.
So now more than any other time in history we youth must come forward to represent our generation, to push the world towards making policies that empower its citizens to live with our future generation in mind, to live as if our future matters.