India’s Youth Climate Activist Urges People to Adapt a Sustainable Lifestyle ~ Bushra Satkhed

With the increasing number of natural disasters in the past few months, Mother Nature signals the human race to pay attention to its burning ecosystem. The Australian bushfires, Assam floods, Atlantic hurricanes, Sudan Floods and the recent California wildfires, all point out to the unending sufferings of the environment at the hands of humans, which remains even amidst a large scale pandemic. People continue to be affected more by the climate crisis than what COVID-19 has done as floods, fires and storms are ravaging various landscapes and livelihoods of millions across the globe. Studies reveal that the current mismanagement of nature rises potential threats of another pandemic. Irrespective of the fact that whether the COVID-19 virus is here to stay or not, there is a requirement for serious action to be taken in order to address the climate disaster and avert the situation of ecological & societal collapse on earth. Building a sustainable future is the need of the hour is. 

Kerala based youth climate activist, John Paul Jose, recognized this threat at the tender age of 12, when he explored his interests towards nature and decided to take action.

“It was hard to see the nature that I loved and nurtured since school days being destroyed in other areas for development.” Jose said, “Gradually that destruction reached our region as well. I began my activism with individual action, but it was not enough and I had to scale to advocacy due to government ignorance & lack of action. The voices must reach the government. Joining the strikes were a very important aspect of that.”

Jose began his journey of working for the betterment of the environment at the age of 18 with small steps, concentrating on tree plantations and local environmentalism. Eventually, he joined protests against larger development projects that were destructive for nature and a threat to people as well. However, Jose realized there is a greater threat awaiting in the near future, as he researched deeper about climate change and worked on coastal zone management, with NGOs like Greenpeace and engaged into full activism and awareness campaigns. 

“People should be well informed of what’s happening around and how transparent and accountable their government is in response to climate crisis. We should advocate with all we have to ensure that we could live peacefully.” Jose stated.

Jose believes that without individual effort, the environment crisis will continue to grow. He suggests that adopting a sustainable lifestyle by cutting down the energy demands and thinking carefully about smaller actions such as plastic usage or private commute options will help in bringing a change. Utilizing re-usable bottles, disposal of wastes responsibly and relying on public transports are a few recommendations that can help in achieving ecological goals. Focusing on energy consumption at home and switching to renewables, one can avoid transmission lines, the large reliance on fossil fuel or hydroelectric power sources. Jose encourages people to transform their way of living into a sustainable lifestyle and collectively create a positive impact. 

Jose also stressed on the significant role of media and how often a crisis, issue or activity can be shown in the media to inform the masses. 

“If media could cover politics, sports and entertainment continuously, why not the everyday catastrophic of the climate crisis? If the media and the government successfully made even the remotest corners of the world aware of COVID-19 in few months, the kind of transformation through sensitization on climate crisis which is an everyday reality for years will be remarkable.” Jose said.

The climate crisis has been left out for the next generations to tackle and decades of inaction and ignorance have resulted in today’s alarming situation. Placing profit over people, this systemic injustice is now being challenged by young people. 

“Due to the environment negligence for generations, the recent Australian bushfires modelled as a warning sign for the upcoming disasters that will cause significant biodiversity loss and fragmentation. The ignorance of the government towards timely response and lack of control measures led to exacerbating it into a complete catastrophic.” Jose stated. “Learning, hearing and experiencing about climate crisis which is an unimaginable threat not even given importance in public domain, politics and media has made youth to step out in public demanding action. With current climate crisis and IPCC warnings, considering unwarranted emission rise and biodiversity loss corporates and government should step into action by mitigating all problems with the available solutions and exploring more. But they all are delaying action pretending they are doing something without even considering the seriousness of the crisis. With such fake actions and incompetency, young people being future voters and adults have a responsibility to ensure there is climate awareness, good governance and concrete actions so that at least future generations could live peacefully.” Jose further added.

 Talking about the current pandemic situation, Jose informed that he continues his remote activism and local initiatives to raise awareness.

“If the safest thing during the pandemic is to stay at home, in many areas the safest thing is to leave everything and run for life, due to climate crisis.” Jose stated, “We shouldn’t be building back the crippled economy with fossil fuels and going back to the same old polluting lifestyle. We should place nature and all its living being including humans as central part of our future progress. All actions that are detrimental for a peaceful and suitable society should be stopped now.”

Awaiting to graduate from Ambedkar University, New Delhi, Jose looks forward to continue his advocacy, campaigning and actions towards bringing awareness about the environment and ensure that the new generation fights for a safer future. 

“We should move forward to zero emissions and everything possible should be done.” Jose added, “Post that, if the current system achieves that goals, then we young people could actually start living our life to the fullest.”