By Contributor Srihita Adabala

We are brought up with the impression that the Earth is our forever home, plentiful with resources with no end. In retrospect, this is no longer the case. As Greta Thunberg would say, our house is on fire, burning with such madness. These flames, real in Australia and Siberia and metaphorical within us, burn deep red and amber, almost like the Aurora Borealis. I have always wanted to see the ribbon of color dancing in space between the stars, displaying the Earth’s natural beauty, relieved of any human legacy. Will I ever see it? Maybe, maybe not. Sadly, I have lost the true conviction that I will ever see a product of nature’s beauty like the Aurora Borealis due to my actions. Our actions. 

Growing up, the only footprint I  understood was the one I could make in the mud after a light shower. As the rainfall conjured a sweet pattern upon my skin, I had no concerns regarding what would happen to our planet in ten years. Now, the only footprint I can think about is my ecological footprint, how my actions exert influence on this Earth. Each step I take adds a layer of anxiety that cannot be reversed. Each moment we deprive our environment without giving back is a step closer to irreparable consequences. 

It has been 30 years since the climate fight started and still being fixated on this issue could be considered exaggerated to some; however, the term “climate crisis” has expanded to cover phenomena we used to only dream about. I can no longer appreciate the portrait of the Atlantic coastline in our living room without thinking about sea levels rising, flooding millions of homes. I can no longer embrace the stuffed polar bear from my childhood years without picturing the majestic creature struggling to hunt because of thin ice. I can no longer drive to school without thinking about how many emissions are produced worldwide as people embark on their respective journeys. In the past, we took these daily actions for granted; now, going through business as usual could have devastating repercussions.

This is my call to action. I want change. I demand change. If we want to sustain our home, we must become aware of the evident issue and take conscious steps for action. We must demand changes in public policy and pressure large corporations to instill environmentally-aware methods. Installing climate education within schools, joining movements such as Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and pushing politicians to support the Green New Deal are just a few ways an individual can enact change. 

I live in a small suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, a town that has done little-to-nothing to fight this current crisis. This letter is for everyone in my borough and boroughs alike. 

If you would rather sit still as our house burns, surrounded by the smoldering flames and the thick, acrid stench of smoke, so be it. But I will not. I want my children to experience the clumps of wet flakes drifting windlessly down on a bitterly cool December morning.  I want my children to experience heat raining down on them like the breath of the sun on a bright June afternoon. I want my children to experience everything a healthy planet has to offer.