Amanda Mckenzie is the founder of the Australian Youth Climate Committee. Her talk at the Festival of Ideas was pitched as a polemic look at what our future would be like if we don’t take action on climate change. The majority believes Gen Y is apathetic and this is one young person who is taking action and turning that on its head.
While I am blogging for the Festival of Unpopular Culture I felt an overwhelming need to hear Amanda speak. A few weeks ago Four Corners examined the derailing of the climate change debate by right wing skeptics. What struck me in that story was the age of those who doubted the science.
Now was my chance to hear how young people are contradicting popular thought and making themselves heard on this debate. While a history of how the committee started, stats on members and their events were interesting I could not help but be distracted by the audience.
Naively I believed this event would attract young people keen to hear about the movement and their work to date. But as I looked around the room I asked where are they?
And as Amanda said the media perception is that young people did not care about climate change I was one journalist starting to believe that.
While I love the lesson on social media and the story behind the ‘Climate Elephant’ I can’t help but feel that Amanda is preaching to the converted. I’m sitting amongst the older Greens voters, who are comforted by the words of a young person declaring that something is happening.
It was a question from the floor that finally asked how does Amanda deal with the ‘older’ anti-carbon protestors? To her credit she does not fear them and through her work she has not participated in the ‘hate’ argument that has ensued, instead she has chosen to engage in a respectful discourse.
While the media chooses to cover the conflict the climate debate creates, it does not cover the stories of people in agreeance. And this is what Amanda finds when she travels to rural communities. A comment I found heartening.
Amanda is an articulate, positive activist passionate about her environment. Of course the obvious question is why is she not getting involved in politics. Simply she believes working at the grassroots is more effective for change rather than working up the food chain of a political party and having her hope diminished.
Honestly I think Amanda is mobilizing her peers to work effectively in turning the perception that Gen Y don’t care and don’t do anything. The earth is warming and the science is there but with the minority derailing Amanda and her committee she is going to have to be louder and more active to break through.