Nfld. & Labrador·UNDECIDED

Why these teens are worried about the next 11 years in a warming world

Allison Jeon, Erin Lee and Chloe Puddister are some of the organizers of Fridays for Future in St. John's. They aren't all old enough to vote, but they know what they want out of this election.

They've organized demonstrations at Confederation Building and they want adults to get serious

Chloe Puddister, Erin Lee and Allison Jeon are Grade 12 students at Holy Heart High School in St. John's. They want leaders to act fast to address climate change. (CBC)

They're in Grade 12 and everyone asks them what they're doing next year. They hear it all the time.

As we chatted in this St. John's café — me, Allison Jeon, Erin Lee and Chloe Puddister — the guy at the next table leaned over and asked if they plan to go to university in the fall.

It's constant.

But for these Holy Heart High School students, next year isn't the most pressing question. 

Instead, they're wondering where they'll be in 11 years.

Teens say leaders need to act now. Watch the latest episode of Undecided:

Jeon, Lee and Puddister are thinking about 2030 because, according to a UN climate change report released last year, that's when global warming must slow in order to avoid massive climate upheaval.

"We need to act now and there's really no time to waste because the time is only getting shorter," Lee told CBC's election series, Undecided.

It might seem far away, Puddister said, but in 2030 she'll only be 29. Maybe she'll be thinking about a family. Maybe she'll want to settle down.

We're going to be the ones that are going to be trying to make sense of this mess.- Allison Jeon

But that UN report warns heat-related deaths, water shortages, and extreme weather events will all balloon by then, if the warming trend is not curtailed.

"When I'm 29 I'll be starting a career and that's just so scary to think about — that's going to be happening around me if we don't make changes."

That's why these teens are organizing. They started an environmental club at school to promote causes like composting. 

They also worked with two other students, Sarah Dunphy and Alice Ferguson-O'Brien, to plan two Fridays for Future rallies at Confederation Building, both of which drew hundreds of demonstrators.

Jeon, Puddister and Lee are among the organizers of Fridays for Future demonstrations in St. John's. (CBC)

Lee, Puddister and Jeon don't believe the provincial and federal governments are doing enough to curb climate change. They're not interested in vague promises or supportive platitudes; they way concrete action.

"We're going to be the ones that are going to be trying to make sense of this mess that we're creating now on earth," Jeon said.

"So … my preferred leader is someone who's going to listen to me and listen to the needs."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bailey White

CBC News

Bailey White is the producer of the St. John's Morning Show, on CBC Radio One.

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