Notice of Drafting: The World Wants You!

12/19/2011 09:28 am ET | Updated Feb 18, 2012
  • Erik Rasmussen Erik Rasmussen, founder of Sustainia and CEO of Monday Morning

If there were ever a right time and a good reason for a global youth movement -- that time would be now. The politicians have yet again proven their failure to govern and to take responsibility for the younger and next generations. While independent institutions like the OECD, the IEA, and McKinsey have presented us with shocking facts about the speed and consequences of our carbon dioxide emissions and future resource shortage, the negotiations in Durban didn't come close to matching the challenges we will be facing in a few years. Fact is, the politicians who make the decisions now won't be the ones suffering the consequences -- but our children and grandchildren will.

The projections from OECD and IEA show a potential global temperature increase of four to six degrees Celsius. A temperature increase of that magnitude will among other things result in drastic change in water availability, sea level risings and never before seen weather phenomena. Meanwhile, the McKinsey report urges the need to rethink our resource management -- since the world population is ever increasing in size, and resources get harder and more expensive to retrieve.

It seems that when the need for progressive action and long-term decision making is at its highest -- the ambitions of our political leaders are at their lowest. If we consider the fight against climate change as a war, the result of COP17 can be compared to two fighting forces standing on each side of the bridge, which marks the difference between reversible and irreversible climate change. While the enemy is gaining in strength and speed -- our army chooses to take a break for 10 years to talk strategy -- assuming that the enemy will wait for them to finish. Guess what? The enemy will not wait -- it will cross the bridge -- and there will be no going back.

The politicians are not just acting against better judgment -- they are acting on behalf of the generations, which will inherit the world after them. This is not only irresponsible -- it is unethical and an exposure failed political leadership.

At different times in history, the injustice of society has grown to a point where a countermovement was born in order to fight it: the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as its leader, anhe students rights movement, where student Mario Savio as a particular expressive student, said:

There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious -- makes you so sick at heart -- that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop.

It is time to make the global climate change stop. But where is the movement against the injustice that is happening to the earth? Where is the great speech that will create a vision for a better and sustainable future? Where is the leader that can carry a movement from a dream to action?

It's you.

You are the next generation -- you have to create the vision and take it into reality. Time hit the nail on the head in 2006 when it made "you" the most influential person of the year. According to Time, this marked the end of the rule of the few and powerful. Because of new technology and the expansion of social media, it is no longer the few and powerful who shaped our collective identity as a species. It's you.

This year, Time has chosen "The Protesters" as the most influential person of the year, arguing that the protesters from the Arab Spring once more became the makers of history. Both appointments indicating the same trend: that true change comes from bottom-up movements.

My hope and my expectation is therefore that you embrace this opportunity and show high ambitions for your future -- and you have an amazing platform for change. Facebook currently has over 800 million users, most of which are people I would classify as members of the next generation. The social media has already been acknowledged for their role in the Arab Spring, where a bottom-up movement -- largely coordinated and visualized on Twitter and Facebook -- succeeded in removing dictators. That movement didn't come from a political leader or a motivational speech -- it came from many leaders and many speeches delivered in the form of Facebook updates and Tweets. The need for a youth movement has never been greater -- neither has the opportunity to successfully go through with it.

Consider this a draft on behalf of the future earth -- can you think of any war more important and justified than the one against climate change?