If it’s something hugely present in our daily lives, then it must be taking place in our society. The society, which is governed by policies and administration, and operates within and with the law. The society where educational institutions are seated and where we were taught “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”—words that the human population knows by heart. However, although these Rs are something, and relevant, what the schools failed (and perhaps continuously do so) is to emphasize that they are not enough.
For a very long time, the youth and humanity, in general, have been eating up the idea that the climate crisis is something personal. That it’s something caused by a person and, therefore, solvable by a person. There may be some truth in that but an inadequate truth is always dangerous. They sell to us an idea and lifestyle of a climate emergency in the frames of individuality when it is something systemic.
The whole truth? The climate crisis and its threatening effects are both personal and societal, but heavier on the part of the latter. A person can reduce, reuse, and recycle their entire life, and even pass that on to their next generations, but it would not be enough to answer to a year of destruction brought by multinational, multimillionaire, profit-obsessed corporations, capitalists, and government. You can give up using plastics, and the sweet taste of meat, but if industries continue with their ways, you will still taste the bitterness of this truth: you can do a lot, but you cannot do everything. This is where voting comes in.
We operate in a society guided by laws, and these laws are made, unmade, and administered by the government. And this government is composed of people operating through our votes. We say who gets the power. Voting is important because it is important to give power to people who can guide and redirect the society in facing, and hopefully, solving a societal problem such as the climate crisis.
Our vote should go to candidates who have platforms for the environmental sector—platforms that are intersectional, pro-poor, sustainable, and not commercialized. Moreover, our vote should go to rightful candidates who have the courage to face capitalists—deserving candidates who reject to be part of the machinery.
Some government initiatives that we’d like to see be implemented are (1) sustained and institutionalized pro-environment policies that extract accountability from people and organizations that cause widespread environmental destruction through their businesses, and (2) more funding for pro-environment projects—conservation, protection, and proactive responses.
Chomsky once said, “If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that’s something, but the people in power can live with that. What they cannot live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning from the last time, and doing it better the next time.”
With our fists raised, our calls heard, and our fingers inked, let’s do better this time. Our vote is our sustenance. Power from the people, for the people.
Jazmine Cate Pama is a Management student at the University of the Philippines Visayas. She advocates for an inclusive, pro-Filipino, truth-led, Philippines.
This piece is one of the three winners of the Climate Week of Action Blog Post Competition, a collaboration between Climate Reality Philippines and Climate Reality Canada to ramp up and amplify the Global Climate Youth Strike last September 24, 2021.
This blog competition asked Pinoy high school and college students to tell us why voting is important in addressing the climate crisis. Through this initiative, we encouraged the youth to join us in demanding intersectional climate justice while raising awareness about the importance of voting in ensuring that climate action and sustainability will be front and center of our leaders’ agenda.