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When did caring about the planet become a liberal idea?

There is a disconnect in our community between the call to climate action and the commitment to doing it. More people than ever want to put a stop to climate change. Our local governments and establishments all acknowledge the existence of climate change, but when it comes to ADDRESSING this crisis, it is still a taboo subject.

I ask our community this: When did caring about our planet and people become a liberal idea? Why is calling out our elected officials, regardless of their party affiliation, for their apathy toward climate change something that you shy away from? Clean air and a sustainably based economy do not naturally have party lines; it is only corrupt politicians who have made it seem that way. It is the fear of offending these political parties that prevent climate allies from demanding change. Yes, it appears that everyone wants a clean planet until you must take the action that they talk so much about; then few want to be associated with the cause because of the political implication. Use the word “strike” to describe our disruption of a corrupt system or address the blatant neglect of the climate crisis by our lawmakers, and suddenly supporters of climate action fade into the background of compliance that benefits the greed of fossil fuel giants.

What message does this send to younger generations who want to make this world a better place when they are denied support from local government, establishments and institutions? What are we accomplishing in labeling them as zealots? More importantly, what does it say we fail to support them because of the meaningless politics of talking heads who deny that they are living on a slowly dying planet?

It says that our community is scared, apathetic and cannot live up to its words. We all lose credibility when we tell our youth that they have the power to stop climate change and then brand their physical efforts as salacious political acts. When we fail to show up for a generation trying desperately to save their future because of its “political undertones,” you show utter disregard for their existence. If we do this, we will no longer be the climate-progressive community that we claim to be; we will become stagnant and wither away.

The science behind climate change is clear: Our planet is warming, and entire ecosystems are under threat, including the Adirondacks. The opinions of Democrats and Republicans are meaningless in a crisis of this scale, and it’s about time we acknowledge that. We need to change now. Whether it is a Green New Deal, a carbon tax or subsidizing renewable energy, it does not matter if it came from the left or the right. Support for those youths who are fighting for it is imperative; anything less is a failure on our part as a community. We need to pick a side in the climate crisis. If you are too scared to follow through on support for the youth climate movement that you have publicly advertised, you have chosen the side of fossil fuel billionaires who profit off the death of our planet. We don’t have time for your mixed messages. Ask yourself what you are willing to do to stop climate change, and decide now.

Madeline Clark lives in Saranac Lake.

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