It’s the future Earth calling, it needs your help!


“We didn’t start the fire” – Billy Joel

The Willow project has been approved. Choruses of “What? How? Why?” are heard. I’m in shock and I’m angry because I’m being told I’m not going to have a future. Even worse, President Biden, a supposed advocate against climate change, is the one who approved this project. This makes me and millions of other young people furious as seen in comments like “Yup, that’s a good way to become a single-term president.” and “I don’t understand how they think they will get the youth vote in 2024, the one that got them elected in 2020.”
Now just what is the Willow project? The Willow Project is a massive and decades-long oil drilling venture in northern Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (owned by the federal government) by ConocoPhillips, a company that has been surrounded by controversy for continued oil drilling, exploitation of nature, and posing risks to indigenous communities globally.
And that’s just the start of the problem.
Not only would Willow emit more climate pollution per year than 99.7 percent of all single-point sources (any single identifiable source of pollution from which pollutants are discharged) in the nation combined, but it would have a disproportionate impact on native Alaskans. Due to the high levels of pollution they are exposed to, their population has abnormally high rates of chronic illnesses like cancer and respiratory ailments.
I feel like we are losing our future and it’s all because of ourselves, human beings. Climate scientists reported they know that human influence has been the dominant cause of global warming since 1950, as surely they know that cigarette smoke causes cancer. There is no denying that this is on us and while it’s our past and present, it doesn’t have to be our future.
Kiesha Blaser, English teacher and head of Eco Club, said “Looking at it from an individual perspective, I think it’s really important for people to know that even if you’re “not doing enough,” imperfect efforts toward protecting the planet are better than not trying at all! You don’t have to be a no-waste climate activist to make a change; small efforts like recycling, using reusable bags, and avoiding single-use plastics are all steps people can incorporate to make a difference.”
For instance, I bought a few eco-friendly products on Etsy, an online small business shop, and while it was a bit more expensive, it made me feel better. Unfortunately, that alone won’t make a huge difference. It’s the celebrities who take private jet trips for 20 minutes instead of driving and the oil companies who are dumping millions of toxic chemicals into our bodies of water that can make significant differences.
“I think that when possible, people should work on making eco-friendly choices even if they take more work, cost more money, or take more time. We need to change our priorities from what’s quick and easy to what is responsibly sourced, ethically made, and safest for the planet,” said Blaser.
I think what’s really been hard for me is that I have people in my life, people close to me, that think it’s all nonsense. I once blurted to someone close to me, “I don’t think I’m going to have a future or see my kid’s future because of climate change, of the Willow project.”
And the response? Mockery. “Grace thinks the world is going to burn and we’re all going to die.” This just makes me ask myself, “How can someone so close to me have so little disregard for my future?” But don’t worry, you’ll die of old age. I’ll probably die of climate change.
It does not have to be this way! Everyone can help the Earth get back to a healthy state. Donate to second hand stores, eco friendly charities and visit sites like NASA, the UN, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to learn more about what’s going on. Recycle when possible, compost food, and reuse anything you can.
Things like boycotting fast fashion and being aware of your carbon footprint can make a huge difference, even though it feels small. Petition for your government leaders, local or federal, to pass bills for preventing climate change. Every step taken is another step towards the Earth having a future.