As I am sure you all know, the recent United Nations climate report estimated that we have until 2030 to reduce our emissions by 80 percent or we will not be able to keep the global temperature change from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. If this happens, there is no hope left for our species or our world. It's not about saving our grandchildren anymore, it's about saving ourselves.
But unfortunately, some people still do not see that surviving as a species will involve major lifestyle changes. They are okay with recycling every once in a while, but do not want to commit to remodeling the way we commute. They could tolerate a few more bike lanes, but they would not use them. But the thing is, we all need to realize that life will be very different in the future -- that is a fact. It is our choice whether we want to welcome that difference by adapting to tougher policies, or to perish from it. Merely a few years ago, the entire city of Mountain View was run on fossil fuel-generated electricity. Now, nearly every business and household runs on clean energy, and Mountain View is looking forward to its very first Earth Day celebration. Progress is being made -- just not fast enough.
Yes, a bullet train is necessary. And bike lanes can be fun and safe. In Amsterdam, the multi-level parking garages are not for cars, they're for bikes. And every day they are full to the brim. Besides, this is Silicon Valley. We surely have the power to revolutionize the sustainable energy industry, and make money doing it too. Forbes predicts that the United States' renewable energy business is worth $3 trillion. Anyone want to cash in?
Get involved in our community. You don't have to become Greta Thunberg (the Swedish teenager known for her climate activism), but you can join a local protest group, or organize community education events. Replace your gas-burning water heater with an electric one. Turn your company in a more sustainable direction. Explain to your cousin that climate change does not mean that you cannot form a snowball, it means that the global temperature is rising. Leave your car at home and dust off your bike. Every great change that has ever occurred started with one person with an idea.
People always remark that it is up to my generation to make things right. But my generation does not have time. In 11 years, I will be 28, barely starting my career, and it will already be too late to turn things around. It is up to you. We only have 11 years left, so let us make them count. Let us give it our all, and put up a fight. Because once our emissions are past the tipping point, we cannot go back. Our chance is now. Every living person has a responsibility to do their part, no matter how small.
This could be like the moon race, with countries racing to be the first to prove the extent of their technological innovation. Climate change will be the struggle that defines every generation alive today. While the "greatest generation" had to stand up and tackle two world wars head-on, we now have no other choice but to bear the burden of the cards we have been dealt, and fight for our futures.
Look at this from a patriotic standpoint, and do your part for our country. Do your part for our world. I want YOU to join the U.S. climate protection movement.
Jamie Minden is a sophomore at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View.