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The Canary

A canary in a coal mine sings.

But a canary in a coal mine also dies. It dies when there is danger. The death of the canary gives the miners time to escape, it sacrifices its life, not by choice, for the lives of men. Men who continuously bring canaries into coal mines to sacrifice their lives as though they were as insignificant as the rock upon which they dig.

The canary dies.

The canary is the millions of species becoming extinct and endangered, the ice caps deteriorating in wake of the rising temperatures, the forests being brought down by fires we set with our bare hands, the pollution pouring out of factories in horrific clouds of tainted black, painting the sky a color it is never supposed to be.

The canary has been dying. Its song ceased years ago, decades ago, and we turned away as it became softer and softer, more strained, weaker, as the music began to die from our ears to be replaced by dead silence filled instead with our ignorance.

The coal mine is the Earth. The coal mine is the planet beneath our feet. The world that lets us live. Not the economy, not the government, not technology, not education, not humanity, the world.

The coal mine is the world, and the canary is everything in the world that is dying because of us and our actions.

We’re dying too. As the planet dies, we die. Because without it, we cannot live. It is not possible in any way, shape, or form. If the canary dies, we die. In a coal mine, when the canary dies, the miners die too. If they catch it quickly enough, they can get out. We caught it quickly enough, but we have not done enough to escape the trauma befalling the planet, and therefore befalling us.

In the vast span of time, of all Earth’s existence, we have mere seconds to pull ourselves out of the danger zone. Even that would require a complete turn around, it would require us to turn the world as we know it upside down, to make sacrifices, but it is possible. We still have a choice.

We can turn the world upside down in way that will save it, and allow future generations to put it back, right side up.

Or we can let it be, and watch it turn upside down in a way that will bring all of us down with it.

And if we choose the latter, there will never be any going back.

We have to prioritize. At this point in time there is no other option. There is no time to tolerate denial, objection, devaluation, and blindness to the problems at hand. There is no excuse for denial, objection, devaluation, and blindness. There is no excuse, because it is a fact. It is a fact, and it is an undeniable fact.

Climate change is real.

It is not a hoax. It is not a conspiracy theory. It is not “just weather”.

There is a difference between weather and climate, and anyone who refers to climate change as weather is not credible, because they failed to look up the simple difference between the definition of climate and the definition of weather. They failed to understand one of the most basic concepts taught to us in elementary school. And if they failed to understand that, how can they understand how detrimental the problem is? If they can deny science, science with such a strong, unquestionable foundation, what is there to substantiate their claims that climate change is not a priority?

Weather is temporary. It is day to day, it changes, it fluctuates.

Climate is not temporary. Climate is the average temperature over a long period of time. Not a week, not a month, but years. Years upon years that show how average temperatures fluctuate, and that now show a continuous increase in global temperature, higher than any changes we have seen in the past. A change far more drastic than anything seen within the climate changes that occurred before the industrial revolution.

All it takes to see that climate change is real is a look at the actual data. Anyone who has looked at the actual data, and understood it, could not in their right minds deny that it exists.

We no longer have the time to tolerate priorities that have taken precedent over climate change.

Climate change is the priority.

Because if the world falls, everything else will fall. It will not matter whether or not the economy is strong, or weak, whether or not there is independence, or freedom, or if one country has gained back their land from another, or how many people have died fighting for their countries, or even whether or not everyone possesses basic human rights.

If we let the world fall, everything that we have spent centuries fighting for will have been in vain.

If we sacrifice the economy now, we can rebuild it later.

If we sacrifice the world, there will be nothing to rebuild.

The canary in the coal mine is dying. Once it dies, the mine will crumble with it, and nothing within it will make it out alive.

We are standing at the brink of the danger point. The point of no return. We are standing with our toes hanging over the edge, watching stones fall one after another into the abyss below us. We are standing there, oblivious to the fact that soon the cliff will give way and the land beneath our feet will no longer be there.

The generations before us have failed. The adults of this world, the ones we are taught to look up to, politicians, teachers, our own parents, have failed us. They, collectively, have failed to keep us out of danger, to do the one thing they have always sworn to do. Protect us. They turned aside at the daunting problem, the “limited” solutions, and handed it to us instead. Up until now, the future generations could continue to pass it along, saying, “It’s not our problem. You can handle it.” But now, it is our problem. It is our problem more so than it has been any other generations problem.

If we let the canary die, our children will never hear its song. They will never know a world in which the canary sings, a world in which is not filled with silence.

Our children will not know a world at all.

Right now, there is a very high probability that we, this generation, will not be outlived by our planet.

A concept only thought to be encountered in science fiction or dystopian books.

A concept that is no longer condemned to the pages of fiction or fantasy of which they have so commonly been found.

A concept that has become our immediate reality.

We have run out of time. Our seconds are slowly ebbing away and soon there will be no more seconds. We can’t plead for more time, for just a few more seconds to go back and correct our mistakes.

We are out of time.

Our only time is now.

It astonishes me that there are people within my generation that laugh at the issue at hand, who take it as a joke, as another endless school assembly rambling on about dress codes. Maybe part of the problem is that schools often prioritize such minuscule issues as dress codes above those of climate change. Instead of being taught that we have to protect the planet, growing up we are taught how to objectify women, discriminate race and religion, and distinguish ourselves from others in ways that make us appear more superior.

When the truth is, we are all the same under the umbrella of climate change. There is not a person alive, no matter what their social standing, race, sex, religion, etc., who will survive in an uninhabitable world.

And I cannot fathom how anyone could see the numbers, the science, the facts, knowing that everything of substance is saying that there is no more time, there is no more time, this is what’s happening, and this is what we have to do, and not be terrified. One of the reasons I find myself straying from environmental science is because I am terrified every time I stop to think about it. I don’t want to live my life being scared of a force greater than humanity, because humanity has failed to see that it is above them and instead has brought it down.

I am terrified.

I am scared for my life, and the lives of the children I will never get to see grow up.

It terrifies me that there are people within my generation who can turn just as blind an eye to this topic as their parents, even though it affects us more than it has affected any other generation.

I am terrified.

Fear has always been a stronger driver than hope. We had hope decades ago, years ago even, but now we have little hope. We have fear. And if everyone was terrified and panicked, we would have hope. Because then there would be motivation for action, no matter what type of action, but action to fulfill the basic animal survival instinct.

Each and every one of us should be terrified.

We are out of time.

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