For the first month of school, we woke up to dim orange skies and the smell of smoke in the air. Some of us packed bags for evacuation, others faced permanent loss and the unforgiving raze of wildfires. California’s fire season this fall was a direct consequence of global warming, and students and older generations both faced the unprecedented damage.
As the Arctic Ice shrinks and global emissions increase, politicians fail to even come to a consensus on the real existence of climate change. It took a 16 year old activist and global climate strikes led by members of our age demographic for many to even realize the need to reduce emissions by 55% before 2030 in order to prevent irreversible damage to our planet.
We are running out of time, year by year, month by month.
The world we inherit is shaped by the decisions and problems of previous elections. For a generation watching as the climate rapidly fluctuates and the ocean creeps into cities, we don’t have the luxury to wait.
18 of 50 states have already implemented measures to allow 17 year-old citizens to vote in the primary elections if they turn 18 by time of the general election deadline. Those eligible to vote in the general election should also be provided with the right to determine which names appear on the ballot in the first place.
If we are engaged enough to march in the streets and lead national movements such as March for Our Lives, why not bring that acute awareness to polling stations and ballots? After all, power to elect public policy that shapes our present and sets a precedent for our future lies in voting.
We are taught that the number 18 separates adult from child, active member of society from bystander. So in the meanwhile, we call our local representatives, take to the streets, and express our opinions. But our most basic right as a citizen, our most direct voice of expression, is cut off until we cross an invisible and intangible threshold.
Our generation understands and utilizes the fastest and most effective methods of communication, and we do not hesitate to continue. As students, we are also rightful members of society and part of a generation finely in tune with current issues. Voting is only a natural extension of our duty towards civic participation.