Climate change: you have two options in a crisis. Ignore it or act – Dylan Hamliton

15-year-old Dylan Hamilton delivered this speech at the climate protest rally on Friday

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 6:00 am
Youngsters march through Edinburgh during Friday's climate strike. Picture: PA

‘Hello, my name is Dylan Hamilton, I’m 15 years old and I’ve been striking weekly since February. It wasn’t a difficult decision for me, to come down to Parliament with my sign, I knew I had to. In a crisis you have two options, you can either act or ignore it. People seem to think that ignoring something absolves you of any guilt, but it is a choice.

I made the choice to protest, and it was very clear that the most effective way to make my voice heard was to strike from school.

Tuesday of last week, Sandy and I were sitting in Edinburgh City Chambers being threatened with arrest. We were told that if we marched on Edinburgh’s most prominent street, someone would get arrested. That is scary, while we aren’t doing ordinary teenage things, we’re still 15. Why would you threaten 15-year olds with arrest for trying to protect the future?

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Even though they apologised, the harm was done. I’m sure there’s people who haven’t come today because of the headlines like “Lock ‘em up.”

Edinburgh Council declared a climate emergency and immediately after they shut streets to race cars for a movie, but we can’t march for one day? I don’t understand that, how can they know what’s happening, to the point they declared a state of emergency, but not take it seriously?

Adults have known for decades about the climate crisis; all the information is right at your fingertips. So, the young people wonder, why didn’t you fix it? You knew what would happen, but you carried on like normal?

The boiled frog analogy best describes the current situation. If you put a frog in water it will sit there, if you increase the temperature slowly it will not get out and the frog will boil. However, if you put a frog into already boiling water, it will instantly jump out. The boiled frog represents the adults, who have grown up with it not being a problem until suddenly you’re in a crisis and it’s too late.

The second frog is the young people, we can see the problem instantly and we’re trying to live. We sit in a classroom and are told, “We are heating our planet with the emission of these gases which is melting the ice caps, causing extreme natural disasters, killing animals and displacing millions of people.” Then we’re told to go outside and play, yet people ask why it’s the youth that care so much.

I shouldn’t have to be on this stage right now. I shouldn’t have to miss school every week. I shouldn’t have to work constantly, often late at night and during lunch breaks to organise these events, to push the adults to take responsibility.

We should not have to march through hundreds of cities across the world to convince the government to prevent a catastrophe, I ask the government to take this seriously. Don’t let yourself boil, take action so that the young people and minorities of the world don’t have to boil with you.’

Alison Johnstone has gifted her weekly slot to Dylan Hamilton, a 15-year-old Lothians climate striker, who delivered this impressive speech at the rally on Friday.