In the absence of clear, concise, and unified action from elected officials around the world to fight the climate crisis, it’s the utmost bullshit that teenagers, children, and other students have had to step in and rise up. The nihilism driving this lack of interest (or, in cases like the Trump administration, abject mendacity) goes beyond simple financial greed and nefarious alliances; the undercurrent is selfish individualism, a notion that the people with the power to alter the climate’s downward spiral are either too old or too rich to ever have to actually experience it.
Their self-interest is in direct conflict with the activism currently uniting young people around the world—young people who, as Jezebel’s Katie McDonough chronicled in her interviews with teen climate activists, can barely envision a future. Their actions are driven neither by apathy nor entitlement, characteristics often ignorantly ascribed to millennials and Gen Z; it’s an acute awareness that our entire species is at risk, and kids are at the forefront because powerful adults are disinclined to take responsibility fast enough, or at all.
We don’t have to wait for a scorched-earth, apocalypse scenario (or the literal manifestation of the very good film The Day After Tomorrow, as Amy Klobuchar weirdly invoked during last week’s presidential debates) to know the climate crisis is the greatest threat to feminism today. We have seen an increase in global inequity, touching on every issue that’s important to Jezebel readers and staffers. Climate change disproportionately affects poor women and children of color, permanently altering the existences of the most disadvantaged among us globally.
In the United States, the political chaos is such that out of necessity our focus is pulled in innumerable directions: The looming threat to our reproductive rights; the incarceration of refugees and the separation of children from their families; the income inequity that harms everyday Americans, particularly black women and Latinas; the administration’s disdain for trans people and the narrowing of the LGBTQIA+ rights spectrum overall; the dismantling of our public education and housing systems; the overall subjugation of everyday Americans, with codified racism at its core. We fight this wholeheartedly, but at the risk of sounding reductive: none of this feminist activism matters if all of us are dead.
Each of these issues is tied in some way to the climate crisis, whether directly (refugees, for instance, fleeing areas in the increasingly uninhabitable global south) or indirectly (birth control, access to which helps stems overpopulation), making it the most overarching feminist issue that humanity has ever faced.
Feminism and climate activism are inextricable. As Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede who has become the face of the global climate movement organized and stratified by young people, wrote on Twitter in March, “We can’t live in a sustainable world unless all genders and people are treated equally.”
Today, Jezebel supports the Climate Strike around the world, and we beseech our readers to continue this activism beyond a single day of protest: to volunteer with the Sunrise Movement, to urge your representatives to support the Green New Deal, and to band together with the brave, organized, and eminently inspiring young people marching and rallying today around the world—we are too. The urgency is palpable, and we can’t attain gender justice without it.
Jezebel is participating in Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate crisis. You can find more details about the effort and other participants here.