The refreshing words of a 14-year-old

Not many 14-year-olds are brave enough to speak out about the need for a radical change in human behaviour if they are to survive on a changing globe. When one admonishes us for the way we live, we should pay attention.

Olivia Tenzing – the 14-year-old granddaughter of Tenzing Norgay, who climbed Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary – had her opinion piece on the part that humans play in global warming, published on the Forest Ecology Network website.

Tenzing lives in Pacifica, California, a city located in northern California with a population of about 40,500.

Tenzing is highly critical of the society that humans have created. “It seems to me that humans have been programmed to think that they need to fulfill their every craving, their every desire and this is why global warming is getting worse. In our conditioning as human beings we have set up societies that rely on these superficial needs and our lifestyles are comprised of actions that continually destroy the very part of the natural world that we all need to stay alive,” she says.

That’s enough of a damning statement but she goes on to comment on her belief that humans may be hard-wired to be self-serving as she says, “We as a species are selfish and short-sighted. We don’t think of the big picture. We always want more…bigger, better, more. We never seem satisfied with what we have.”

We must plead guilty to the charges against us. Our attitudes toward the earth and what it provides are outdated. Our lifestyle is contributing to our demise and the extinction of thousands of other species that share the earth with us and fulfilling our desires, wants and needs has contributed to unforeseen changes in the earth’s atmosphere. Tenzing is right when she reminds us that our health is directly correlated with the health of the planet and that our focus on things that do not really matter, like sports, entertainment, government theatrics, the value of our investments, and consumerism, is foolish. In doing so, we take no personal responsibility for the environment that supports all living beings from soil bacteria to elephants.

We are invited to ask ourselves what our children, grandchildren, and all other living beings are worth to this world. Tenzing implores us to push ourselves to the uncomfortable place of personal responsibility and do something that makes a difference for the greater good. She asks us all to care, go beyond what we hear in the mainstream news and learn about what is really going on.

None of us can plead ignorance. There is plenty of information available about the changes that are taking place to keep us informed. Changes in the cycle of the seasons are occurring; new diseases have been identified; crop production in most parts of the world is failing and the state of the atmosphere is becoming more unpredictable, making weather forecasting more difficult.

Dismissing Tenzing’s commentary as the ramblings of an uninformed teen, who isn’t mature enough to know what is really happening everywhere on Earth, would be easy. However, comments from young people are needed and she’s likely much better informed than the huge majority of the adult population in her city and her state.

It would be refreshing to know that there are a growing number of individuals like Tenzing who care enough about what is happening to the environment to speak out about it. They are the ones who will have to learn to live in a radically changed environment. If any are living in Boundary country let’s hear from them.